Adventures in Soldering and Other Silversmith Techniques

A few weeks ago I decided to try my hand at soldering. I’ve been so afraid of it for so long, but I knew it was the next logical step in my creative journey (that sounds so cheesy and cliché, doesn’t it?). I’ve soldered quite a few pieces so far, some have had horrifying results, and some, not too bad. So ok, I’m starting to feel like a solder master! I bet I can solder anything! Those were kind of the feelings I was starting to have. And then the idea for this ring hit me. I got nervous… That’s a pretty small connection. What if solder is not quite as strong as I think it is? What if I pull the setting off the first time I stick my hands in my pockets? What if copper isn’t as strong as I think it is? What if I used too big of a gauge of wire? What if the stone falls out?! And on and on… Thankfully, I don’t listen to that little voice very often. Maybe I should though, because I’ve got a huge pile of scrap and ickies that I don’t know what to do with. Oh well, live and learn.

 Anyway, once this idea hit me, I was off. The band was the easy part, so I’ll skip that. Although, I must say I was very excited to use my new texturizing hammer for the first time. It gave the band a really cool, almost layered look. Then came the copper prong setting. I soldered two bits together (whew, not too bad so far), and then started hammering again! I hammered those little puppies from a flat X into a really cool bowl shape. My poor husband was in the next room catching up on the last season of Lost. Poor guy, not only was he watching a show that started out good but became, um… not so good, but he had to contend with my incessant banging around and calls of “am I bugging you with all this noise?” He said I wasn’t, which of course was the right answer 😉

Next, more soldering. I was terrified I was going to solder the setting on crooked. I appreciate Picasso as much as the next person, but that’s not quite what I was going for with this ring. Somehow I managed to get it on pretty straight though! It only needed a couple of tweaks with the needle nose pliers after. That’s right… solder master! The silver solder did flow up the prongs a bit, and I thought about cleaning it off, but I kind of like the look. Almost like the copper and silver aren’t two separate parts, but one morphing into another (I’m full of cheese and cliché today!)

After a liver of sulfur patina bath and a quick polish, I was ready to set the stone. More anxiety… if the stone won’t stay in, this is all for naught. But it worked! Good thing I remembered to notch the inside of the copper wire! Aaah, the anxiety is gone, and in its place, a beautiful ruby ring. The prongs haven’t moved, and the ring hasn’t had any altercations with my pockets… yet. I’m quite comfortable with this technique now! I have even made a similar piece with silver prongs. You can see more pictures of this ring in my Flickr Photostream. If you would like one in your size with your choice of stone, feel free to email me at janefont@comcast.net or send me a message on Etsy. I won’t hold you responsible for any stress I feel during the making of your ring 🙂

Jane

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5 responses to “Adventures in Soldering and Other Silversmith Techniques

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