Welcome to my blog, random stuff about me and where I live, plus some bits about my jewellery.

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Sunday 24 August 2014

Finally getting round to this one, copper and silver star set.

I have had these 5 brass and copper stars around for quite a while, I fused the silver onto them with the intention of making a necklace and earrings. Several months ago to be honest.

That's a very old laminated table top. had a lot of stuff thrown at it over the years.

As you can see I've finally linked three of them to start the necklace.

The reason for leaving it so long was the fear of drilling holes in those narrow points!
I have done it before, but only one hole, I don't have a drill stand, just a little cheap modelling tool.

Here it is in action.

Without a stand to lower the drill precisely down onto the piece the sliding around is really hard to control, I found that making a small dent in the surface with a tack (I'm sure there are more professional ways to do that)  helped, I developed a technique starting with the drill in the dent and switched off, then turned to it's slowest setting and gradually turning up the speed.
You need three hands really, I taped the pieces to the wood with masking tape and held the wood still with my right hand,  I had to use part of that hand to steady the drill too its a complicated manoeuvre. I actually had the wood on the heating block you can see on the table, (bit of  a staged shot that, drill not switched on and a hole already drilled).
So right wrist braced against the edge of the block, thumb and 3rd and 4th fingers holding the wood, 1st and 2nd fingers against the side of the drill near the chuck, left hand holds and operates the drill at the same time, phew what a way to work. Don't recommend it but worked for me.

Well eventually got all the holes drilled, the wire linking them is copper wire twisted and then fused, again a tricky job as I didn't want to heat the stars or melt the untwisted wire loops through the holes, I use this stuff to try to prevent that:
Its a thick paste which coats where you don't want the heat. Not 100% but pretty good.

Here are the earrings, not an exact match of course, not possible with this technique, you can see the raw copper wire before melting/fusing. On the right you can see how well the paste has preserved the star while I was fusing the wire link. You can also see where the drill has made a total mess of the bottom point of the left hand star, will have to see what I can do with that.

Heating the copper to melt and fuse the twists, you can just make out the grey blob of  Technoflux paste to the left of the flame, unfortunately I foolishly forgot the loop at the other end, it's burnt through so I shall have to redo this bit! My excuse is that I was getting rather tired, it was after 7pm and I'd been at it for a couple of hours or more.
 Well there you go I will have to look into getting a little drill stand sometime, if there's one that will fit my little drill. (It came from Lidl in case anyone wonders, very cheap and very reliable, my more expensive cordless one doesn't have variable speed! Amazing shop, keep an eye out they're bound to have them again sometime)

I'll post again when the set is finished.

Monday 18 August 2014

Fusing Metal Experiments

I've been making stuff by fusing metal together without solder, some of it quite simple, just a copper shape with some silver wire melted onto the surface. Yesterday I tried creating a 'cage' of wire for a piece of sea glass.

This is the result.

You might be able to see in the lower picture that a small section of the glass has become clear and shiny, as it would originally have been before it's time in the sea. I'm slightly amazed that a blowtorch could produce enough heat to apparently melt the surface of the glass. A friend tells me this is probably quite impure glass if it did that. The fusing is more obvious in this image too.

This is quite a nice technique, it works most easily with pure silver wire. You can create jump rings this way but it's tricky to do as part of an existing piece of jewellery, because of the chance of fusing other parts of the piece.

The basis of the technique is to play a blowtorch flame over a piece of silver wire that has been formed in such a way that two or more sections of the wire either touch or cross each other.

You need to use the end of the inner paler blue cone of the flame. This is the hottest part of the flame:

My technique, very technical, is to play the torch onto the piece until it gives in and melts. To begin with it should glow bright red and at the melting point it will become shiny and slightly shimmery, let it stay like that for a second or two and then remove the flame. Watch carefully, if you don't want it to run over a surface (as in the pieces below) keep a close eye on it. With luck, and practice, the wire will be fused.

Most of what I've done up to now has been these sorts of things, using pre-cut metal blanks in copper and brass:

The star has an old bone counter behind it, held in place with a copper wire loop.

This technique works with sterling silver too, it's not so easy as the melting point is slightly higher. The wire cage at the beginning of the blog is made using eco silver - recycled silver wire, it doesn't say sterling but I guess most silver scrap will be sterling.

I love this technique, it's very unpredictability is it's attraction for me. Have fun playing but be careful with blow torches they are not toys! Use a soldering or charcoal block to heat your work on, and keep flamable items clear obviously.

As a last tip, I use a mixture of cream of tartar, water and lemon juice to clean the firescale off the pieces, leave them covered in a solution the thickness of single cream overnight and voila! Of course pure silver doesn't tarnish but if you're fusing to copper it will go black.

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