Friday, November 21, 2008

Silversmithing In My Studio

I spent the evening yesterday forming clasps, jump rings, and different sized and shaped rings to incorporate into my jewelry. I had Allan take some pictures of the process so you could have a peek at all the fun steps that go into forming the one of a kind findings that are combined with recycled beads to complete the ecocessories jewelry I sell!


I've formed a bunch of hoops, and now I want them soldered shut! I start by painting the seam with flux, which protects the silver when heating. It also helps hold the tiny piece of silver solder in place! Using tweezers, I place a tiny rectangle of sheet solder on the seam.


I sneak up on the hoop - if you move too quickly, the tiny piece of solder jumps off! It's very annoying. Moving the flame from my torch around the solder on both sides distributes heat along the ring and when it reaches it's melting point, the solder flows. Then, I dip the ring into cold water to quench it - a very important step! The metal is now extremely hot, and it is tempting to eagerly want to pick up the soldered piece right away.


Finally, I put the soldered hoop into a crock pot that contains heated lemon salt and water, which removes the discolouration that occurs from the flame. The silver piece will come out with a matte finish, and to create a shiny finish it then gets tumbled for a few hours.

It is a lot of steps, but I love every minute of working with metal and giving my jewelry that much more of a handmade touch!

4 comments:

  1. My brother inquired about a key step in this process, but left his comment on another post. Just so you don’t miss out:

    Question: Hey Jess,
    The one thing that I didn't understand was what you meant when you said "to create a shiny finish it then gets tumbled for a few hours". What do you mean tumbled? Tumbled like laundry?

    Answer: Dan - you caught me! I did kind of glaze over that step. I have a machine, called a tumbler, and it has a small rubber barrel. Inside are a bunch of tiny, hard, metal beads. To tumble silver pieces, I toss them in the barrel with a drop of soap and a little bit of water. The barrel sits on a base that rotates it and the sloshing motion of the contents gently polishes the silver to a shiny, bright finish! It also helps to harden the silver findings.

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  2. Can you give more details on the pickle you use as it sounds non-toxic. also have you found a non-toxic flux? thanks

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  3. Instead of pickle, what I am using is citric acid, also known as lemon salt. It comes as a powdered substance that should be available at most grocery stores, and I simply dissolve it in water in my crock pot.

    It is non-toxic and works just the same as pickle, but it does take longer to work (approx. 15 minutes). The hotter the mixture is in my crock pot, the better though.

    No, I don't know of a non-toxic flux. I would recommend emailing my silversmithing teacher though for more questions about non-toxic alternatives for the chemicals used during silversmithing. Check out her blog at www.silverbee.ca!

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  4. I found out that the flux the schools use which is the safest is Superior #6 at
    http://www.ccis.com/home/hn/index_files/Page7.htm. Thanks for your help

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