handmade jewelry & metalsmithing

Posts tagged “bluegrass

Custom Handmade Banjo Fingerpicks

I got a banjo for my birthday. The happiest most fun instrument there is. I thought the ukulele was the coolest, but since a banjo requires jewelry-it wins!
How long did it take me to start making my own banjo picks? Not long. Almost instantly. I am allergic to nickel, and I have the tiniest fingers ever, so it was a mix of necessity and artistic opportunity, which often combine to mean the same thing.
How many mock-ups before I settled on the best? Countless! I made banjo picks different ways in silver, copper, aluminum, paper and foil for 2 months until I found my sweet spot.
Finally, I nailed a design that is completely original and fits like it isn’t there at all. The bonus is that sterling silver is not only beautiful, but sounds like heaven. I was playing on a pair of National’s that I inherited from my Dad. Not only were they too big and uncomfortable on my skin due to the nickel, the sound of the nickel on the strings is awful and scratchy. You don’t really notice it until you’ve heard the sound of the silver. But, once you do there’s absolutely no going back.

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Here’s a view if the process, from copper mock-up to the finished product. You can purchase a pair of these from my Etsy shop. You can even add a custom design and inscription.
Here’s a view of the process in making the design, from copper mock-up to finished product.

First, it’s just copper sheet.

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Then, I apply masking tape so that I can draw my design.

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I trace my design from a paper mock-up.

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I saw it from the sheet with a jeweler’s saw.

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Banjo fingerpicks come in pairs, just like making earrings. They have to match.

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Next, I file away the rough edges.

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Then, I draw the star.

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I drill a hole for the saw blade, then carefully excise the design in the metal. I add the stamps for sterling silver, my maker’s mark and copyrights.

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I tap the ring shanks around the mandrel.

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They are now beginning to take shape, but still require a lot of filing, sanding and polishing.

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Here’s how they line up to an old National.

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Here’s how they would fit if your fingers are batteries.

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Now here are some various glamour shots because they are so beautiful.

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