A recent commission illustrates how a collaboration begins. Christi Z. saw a ring on my CarolStroud/ArtJewelry page on FB and inquired about it. We began an exchange on Messenger.

That ring was too large so I offered her a choice of Fine Silver ring blanks in different ring sizes and widths. We discussed the price for a ring with a hand sculpted motif like the ring Christi saw and she would get back with me.

I waited for a reply and this is what happened.

Christi wrote: “I think I know what I want to do. Last night I found myself randomly in Haggai. Before the verse about the signet ring, it said, “from this day forward, the work of your hands will be blessed…” Then…I about fell off my chair. It said, “from this day , the 24th day of the 9th month.” That was the very day I was reading this!!! I feel that God is placing me in a new season and I want to mark my faith in it.”

Christi’s comments brought me such delight because she was given a clear inspiration from scripture for helping her and I create a personal story in this ring.

At that point Christi gave me total creative freedom to add anything else as the Spirit led.

I began sketching the design and planning the process to create her Sunflower Signet ring. After receiving payment I went to my bench to create a one of a kind Visual Testimony ring.

Explaining the process of making Christi’s Fine Silver Ring

After sketching the Sunflower to the correct scale I carved it in Polymer clay and baked it in a craft oven. This made it an original mold.

I used the Polymer clay mold to make the impression of the Sunflower in the soft metal clay. The ring was to have an oval shaped top so after some time to dry I cut the clay to correct size. This element was left to dry until leatherhard, usually overnight.

The oval was applied to the Fine silver ring blank with thick metal clay paste. Again allowing for some drying time I use a small paint brush to shape the top of the ring. When the shape is as I like it there is another period of drying.

Original mold and kiln

The ring must be bone dry before firing in my jewelry kiln. Here the kiln is shown open after a complete firing and cool down. Notice the raised shelf where the bone dry metal clay was placed and has now become Fine Silver elements (99.9%). That process is called sintering.

The ring is now pure metal and I begin refining with hand polishing and then in a tumbler to bring the surface which appears white to a polish.

After polishing, a patina solution darkens the ring and settles in the recessed areas to reveal the Sunflower detail. After one more step of re- polishing in the tumbler to remove patina from the high areas the ring is finished.

Original mold and kiln

Refining Process

Polishing before Patina

Testimonial from Christi Ziebarth:
I asked Carol to create a ring one-of-a-kind because I trusted the intent of her heart … that she believed and valued the sentiment and belief behind my unique request. As an artist, I do not use the word, “inspire” lightly. Carol’s commitment to not only create unique spirit-inspired works of metal goes farther than most artist’s creeds. She commits to forgo opportunity and, like the sunflower, “turn her face” towards works with greater meaning than the sum of silver and fine stones. She creates in response to the heart of God. I believe in the power of blessings. How could I have a work of art hand-crafted by someone who does not believe?