Moldable plastic is awesome.
September 5, 2014
Last week or so I posted this picture to Instagram. As is my habit lately, I’d dismantled a ring I bought in the student union in college and wanted to reset the stones. I’ve never set princess-cut stones before, but hey, now’s as good a time as any!
These are 4mm stones. Tiny. Tiny stones require tiny settings, which aren’t inherently problematic for me. I run into problems when I’m turning those tiny settings into earrings. Tiny earrings are really, really hard to hold when you’re setting stones.
That translates to a ton of broken earring posts. This is a tool issue: I have to hold the earring by the post so that I can reach the setting to secure the stone. Using pliers, a ring clamp, or a vise means all the pressure of stone-setting is on the post itself, and the next thing you know, my setting’s on the floor and the post is still secure in the tool.
I got really, really tired of breaking off earring posts. It’s wasteful and frustrating, especially when the stone is all but set! So, to the Internet! I came across jigs and tiny vises, but they’re generally pricey and I wasn’t sure they’re what I need.
Then I remembered the time my teacher used Jett Sett to hold an oddly-shaped bezel setting in place on a bench pin. Jett Sett’s thermoplastic, meaning that it gets nice and pliable at a certain temp and then hardens as it cools. It’s also easy to clean up without leaving residue (unlike wax, which likes to get into nooks and crannies and then stay there).
However, I’m on a budget and Jett Sett was more than I wanted to spend. I did find an alternative: InstaMorph, another thermoplastic that’s half the price of Jett Sett but seemed to have the same qualities.
It’s amazing! I poured hot water over the InstaMorph in a Pyrex dish, and two minutes later I had a blob of plastic that I was able to mold over my bench pin and press the earring setting into.
Never in my life have I had such an easy time setting an earring. I was surprised by how incredibly well it worked. The InstaMorph takes a few minutes to cool, so I had time to position it just right. Once it hardened, my new tool was steady and secure and didn’t get in my way.
And the best part? This stuff’s reusable. I reheated and repositioned the plastic a few times when I was polishing the earrings without any degradation in performance. The little 6oz bag I bought should last me a good while.