Sunday, April 28, 2019

05.06.19 A little precision goes a long way. Kinetic Jewelry 2.0, Part 2

It had been a minute (ok, more like three years) since my last attempt at making hollow form pieces, and those were in sterling silver, not argentium. 

This might not sound like a big deal, but it is; if you want to understand the difference between the two metals, you can read my post on the magic of argentium (which is 93.5% pure silver, and 6.5% germanium - not copper).

Making hollow forms with argentium silver is great - because there is no solder required - the metal can be fused together...but...this requires precision both in the fabrication of the parts and in the application of heat and flame.

I measured (twice) and cut (once) my frame pieces, formed them into teardrop shapes and drilled them before I fused them down onto sheet metal on the first side.

Fusing the first side is relatively straightforward - you have to be careful about directing your torch, so you don't melt the frames, but it's not unlike putting down a bezel for a pendant.  

The first fuse went beautifully, and once it was done I was ready to cut away the excess metal, clean up the exteriors, and fuse the second side...which is the part of the process that's really tricky.

If you over heat the metal during the process of fusing the second side to the form, it will slump, and instead of having a "hollow" form, you will end up with a "sunken" form...definitely not the look I was going for.

It was fine to fuse both the frames down to the first side at the same time, but to finish the hollow forms, I did them separately.  The more metal you are working with, the more difficult it becomes to control your heat - so the trick is to have enough back plate that it won't shrink away from the sides, but not so much that it makes heating difficult, or that you waste metal.

With De at my side, I successfully fused both forms together! 

The next task was to repeat the process of trimming away the excess metal, then sanding and polishing the forms to a finished state.  This wasn't the last step - because there was still gold to add to the pieces, but the surfaces had to be completely finished before I went any further.

Come back in a couple of weeks for the third installment in this series of posts - and learn about the excitement of fusing gold!

Until next time.

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