MD22 Fusing Fine Silver

After yesterday’s debacle, it was a relief to find that fusing fine silver links came back just like riding a bike.

Note: The rest of this post is a technical description of the fusing process. Feel free to skip down to the pictures!

First, I switched torches from my usual oxy-propane to one that just uses propane. The flame is not as hot and it’s easier to control for this process.

Then I laid out my links on the special dedicated soldering board that I use only for fusing, so it stays clean. Setting up the links means butting up the ends precisely, so there are no gaps. I put them on the board so that the joins are all oriented the same way, at the top.

For the actual fusing, I dim the room because it’s easier to see what’s happening. One link at a time, I take the torch in quick little circles around the circumference until first I see the join as a little red line, then the line disappears and that one’s done. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. There are always a few that fail, for whatever reason. Those go into the fine silver scrap bin.

Then I oval out each one with half-round pliers as I take it off the board. This is why the orientation when I laid them out is so important. For the chains I make with these links, I want the joins in the middle of the oval because they are a potential weak point and that’s where the least amount of stress will be. So because I know where the joins are, making the ovals correctly is easy.

One board’s worth of links was enough for one day. I’ll do another one tomorrow.

Fine Silver Links Ready For Fusing

Fine Silver Links Ready For Fusing

Fine Silver Links, Fused & Ovalled

Fine Silver Links, Fused & Ovaled

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MD21 The Scrap Heap

My latest project turned out to be not at all what I wanted, so it went to the scrap heap. *Sigh*

I know this is fine, and I’m trying not to be discouraged. But I am really not feeling particularly creative right now so I have to move myself past that.

I think this is a good time for a “skills focus” project, something that will help me hone a technical skill and give me a breather.

I have a bunch of fine silver links (that’s pure silver) that need to be fused – in other words, changed from cut links to closed circles. This takes precision torch work, and I used to be really good at it. I haven’t done it in years. So I think it will be the perfect project for tomorrow.

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MD20 Hydrogen Peroxide & Vinegar

Today was a long, busy day. But I remembered that a mixture of hydrogen peroxide & vinegar will remove the copper from soldered brass.

So I mixed some of that up & put yesterday’s piece in to soak – it only took a few minutes & now it looks fine.

More tomorrow.

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MD19 Sweat Soldering

Today I proceeded with the parts I was playing with yesterday. Still not entirely sure how it will end up, but I started by sweat soldering the circle of etched brass to the the circle of silver.

This is done by melting tiny pieces of solder into little puddles on the bottom piece (in this case, the silver), then laying the top piece where you want it and heating it again, mostly from underneath. The solder re-melts and hopefully sticks the two pieces together. It’s important to make sure the top piece is really flat on the bottom, so I had to sand the back of the brass to get it flat enough.

Soldering brass has an interesting side effect, because it has copper in it. The heat brings copper to the surface of the metal. There’s a way to get rid of that, but I will have to go back through my old notes because I don’t remember how to do it.

Sweat-soldered disks on a copper background

Sweat-soldered disks on a copper background

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MD18 Designing…

Today I spent time playing with individual parts and thinking about how to put them together.

I like the way these look, I think I can make a fun pendant. Etched brass, silver, and copper that’s been through a tube ringer & and then torched.

More tomorrow.

Metal components

Metal components

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MD17 “New” Silver is so Pretty

I love the way newly cleaned & polished silver looks, especially in chains.

This is the Byzantine bracelet, I finished it today.

Sterling silver Byzantine chain bracelet

Sterling silver Byzantine chain bracelet

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MD16 More on the Byzantine

I meant to spend more time on jewelry today, but I just didn’t get the time in that I wanted.

What I did get done was complete the chain part of the Byzantine bracelet. Tomorrow I’ll do the clasp and finish the rest.

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MD15 A Byzantine Bracelet

If you’ve been following along with this series of posts, you’ll remember that I made some 4mm links last week that I haven’t used yet. They were the wrong size for the Foxtail chain, but they are the right size for a Byzantine chain.

So that’s what I’m making now. This is a lovely chain that makes beautiful jewelry.

Byzantine Chain in Progress

Byzantine Chain in Progress

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MD14 Foxtail Bracelet is Done

Today I finished the Foxtail chain bracelet. Did the last part of the chain, soldered on the clasp, soaked it in hot vinegar to remove all the black from the annealing, & put it in the tumbler for a couple of hours to make it all shiny.

Beautiful!

Sterling Silver Foxtail Chain Bracelet

Sterling Silver Foxtail Chain Bracelet

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MD13 My New Toy

Today most of my “metal” time today was spent on my new toy, a rolling mill. This model is made by Celtic Dreams, and is affordable for someone like me.

It arrived covered in protective grease, which needed to be removed. About an hour with a can of mineral spirits and a bunch of paper towels got that done.

Now I just have to bolt it to my workbench, and it will be ready to use. What’s it for? It can be used to roll out sheet metal & wire to a finer gauge, but my favorite use is to add texture & patterns to metal. For example, rolling etched brass with silver to transfer the pattern. Then that can be used to make other things like these earrings.

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