Sunday, June 28, 2009

what I did today...........

Today I've been very productive if I say so myself. I am working on several pendants and 1 bracelet... when you metalsmith, the soldering is often the easiest and quickest part of it. I spent several hours today just prepping the projects. You have to plan out your piece, cut or punch out the pieces, file and sand it, and clean it (dirty metal doesn't solder very well). You have to put flux on it ( that helps keep the metal from scorching.. and leaving streaky brown spots called fire scale) You you carefully put little tiny pieces of solder where you want them, and light the torch.. if you have done everything else correctly, the soldering is less than a minute. Stupid me, I should of thought to take pictures all along the various stages, but I did take one of the items in the pickle pot... I've got 8-9 projects in pickle right now......

This is one of my little trays with a project in it.. it shows my rough sketch of what I'm doing. the open circle is of copper, the triangle is brass, and the little bits of decoration are sterling.. in fact you can see the top bits in the tray... If you are soldering more than 1 or 2 items together, it pays in the long run to break up the soldering tasks. That way you can control were you want the solder to flow better.. This first past is just the circle and triangle, you can see it the pickle jar toward the bottom right corner, on top of a couple of other items.

this is a picture of my wonderful bench as I set it up for soldering. The aqua colored thingie is my pickle jar. Most people heat their pickle, I don't, because the odor bothers me. It works faster heated, but I've found it works just as good to leave it in longer as heated, and no fumes. Since I rarely get more than an hour or 2 straight in the studio, I just leave it in the pickle overnight, and do the next stages another day.

Here are some cut outs for future projects and scraps. I keep all my scraps... you never know when some bit or piece will come in handy, and of course you can melt it all down and get it remilled if nothing else!

Here are 3 examples of pendants.. I actually made these a couple of months ago, and they are long gone-- all got sold at a show in the recent past. See how pretty and shiny they are? Briefly, after you solder and pickle, you rinse off with baking soda and water, you clean with soap and water, you file/sand/dremel away rough spots or bad soldering, you clean it again, then you polish them, add bail if needed, and then tumble them. this is simplified. Sometimes you have to solder additional stuff on or do "remedial soldering" if something didn't get done well the first time. Always an adventure, soldering is.
this bottom one is my favorite of the 3, I almost kept it. To the lucky customer who bought it, I hope you enjoy it for years to come!

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