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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pocket watch fun.... and the cabochon has it!

My glass cabs glued onto the little pocket watches

Well, whilst conducting my usual late night "surf the large chinese supplier website because I can't sleep yet" internet use, I came across some really cute little pocket watches with rather cheesy porcelain cabochons installed on the front.   I thought to myself that these would look so much better with a nice glass cab on there and decided to dip my toes into negotiating with the chinese supplier to get something custom made..... little did I know that about 1 million (prob only really 50, just felt like more) emails later, it looked like they have made up exactly what I wanted.

So I paid, stalked the postage tracker until they arrived into my hot little hand......... Cute, great.... but not exactly what I wanted.  The big issue I had was that the surface of the watch where the cab gets glued is not exactly flat.... not even a little bit flat... bugger!

The domed surface for the cab to go onto
Well after some brain storming with a lampy friend Darcy we came up with the cunning plan to remove the front from one of the watches and try using it as a push mold on the back of a hot glass cab to give the perfect shape to cab for annealing and then later gluing on... it was a plan!

Watch I "killed" to give me the cab mold

So, even though i was still feeling a little bit under the weather, I fired up the kiln yesterday and tried out the idea using both borosilicate glass and then some soft glass.  I used the boro first (because the kiln was ramped up hotter to start with this, then I ramp it down later to the soft glass annealing temp).  I made up the cab using a slice of my recent boro butterfly cane in a large diameter... the cab was looking nice, so I heated the backside up nice and hot and plunged it onto the "mold".  First off there was some really nasty smells.... then a spitting sound and then when I lifted the cab up, this is what I found!
melted mold after first use
There is no doubt.... I killed it!  Clearly not made of stainless steel, but probably zinc or something.  In any case I was grateful for the good ventilation in my workspace thats for sure.

After this cab, I ramped down the kiln and resorted to plan B..... shaping the back of the cab by hand and just using this mold as a guage for diameter.  I tried using the stumpshaper (the curved bit) to make a concave back..... nope, not neat enough.  Then I tried using the back of a teaspoon and .....yahooo, it worked.  This option works, but is not completely ideal I do admit.  I am thinking of getting myself some graphite and sanding it into the shape I want and using that as a mold which would be MUCH better I reckon.

Some of the tips I got from this first batch other than shaping the back for gluing.... keep it slightly smaller than you think.... heat the back of the cab quite hard and then press down to give slimmer sides which sit nicely on the watch front.   I am thinking there are a complete raft of interesting things that can be done with these watches.... it has been a difficult track to run, but worth it in the end!
Butterfly cab glued onto pocket watch front.... this one was a little bit thick around the edges as my first one


  1. wow!!
    it's so lovely and styles pocket watches. pocket watches back in fashion.

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  3. Oh!! I don’t have much to say on this for the reason that it just gives me the idea of getting one of this for my kids because I know that they surely going to love this pocket watches… Love it!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  4. It made me sing “All I want for Christmas is you”… I love it!

  5. Hi,

    I like the watch and i would like to make some for my own.
    Can you tell me the website, wear you can buy the watches?

  6. Hello Inge, sorry to take ten million years to reply to you. I got my watches from China and they were a special order, Milky Way Jewellery. I had to ask for them specifically without the cabochons on them. They were quite inexpensive, but I had to order 30 as the minimum last time I got some.