I haven’t gotten sick of this technique yet! That’s quite the record, for me. I knew the next step was to figure out how to use this technique in a ring, so that’s exactly what I did. Four, to be exact. Well, ok, five. But one of them is crunched in half because I got mad and ruined it. My husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last month. For the last two years, I’ve been thinking I wanted to make us new rings for this milestone, but I couldn’t figure out what to make, so it passed me by. After messing with the faux shibuichi finish, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. The set of rings above are our new wedding bands (we’re a little non-traditional, hehe). This post is not so much a tutorial on how to make a ring, but to tell you what else I learned about this technique. If you haven’t read the tutorial yet, check it out here.
I love copper: the color, the patina possibilities, the workability, the strength. The only thing I don’t like is that it turns your skin green! I know some people don’t mind that, and wear copper rings all the time. Not me! I like the color green and all, but I don’t like my finger to look moldy. I decided to see if the faux shibuichi finish would prevent this ickieness, or at least delay it. To do this, I did the fine silver fusing on one side, quenched in water, scrubbed the back of the band, and fused the fine silver there too. Doing this on both sides did not seem to have any kind of an impact on the other side!
Now, here’s where I got angry: soldering. First, I kicked myself because I grabbed the hard solder right off the bat. What did I tell you in the tutorial? No hard solder! Medium or easy only. So that turned into anti-solderable oxidation city. Then I broke another cardinal rule. Yeah, I pickled it. Then I had to scrub it to death with steel wool, then polish the tar out of it with the flex shaft. I tired it again, this time with easy. Same thing. Part of it would adhere, part of it wouldn’t. I must have tried soldering it in various ways four or five times. That’s when I crushed that ugly in my hands (told you I was mad), and tossed it in the ‘whatever pile.’ I started over. This time I had a really good idea, that turned out to be a junk idea. Instead of using solder, I smeared a little more metal clay paste over the seam and heated it until it flowed. Nope. You’ll never guess what I did then…
Wanna try to guess?
I freakin’ pickled it again! This time it stayed in overnight. I figured, what the heck? It’s probably going to end up with its brother in the ‘whatever pile.’ And then, it happened…
While I was sleeping, I thought about how frustrated I was. Why wouldn’t those rings solder together!? I scrubbed them, I cleaned them, I used easy solder, I had no problem soldering the coils on the charms. Why now? Ah HA! The coils were sterling silver. Maybe the shibuichi finish doesn’t like to be soldered to itself! So first thing this morning, I pulled the blue/green crusted ring band out of the pickle pot, gave it a quick polish with the bristle disk, and cut a little strip of 18 gauge sterling sheet. I can’t remember if I used medium or easy solder, but it doesn’t matter. It soldered beautifully! I like the contrast too. Now, I’m no metallurgist, so I’m not sure why the silver solders so easily to the finish. I wonder if there’s just so much oxidation going on that two pieces of the finish can’t adhere to each other. That’s funny though, because I don’t pay much attention to getting the metal very clean when I solder the sterling on (I like to live life on the edge), and I have zero problems. It’s a perplexing quandary served with a side of whatever.
Now that I (finally) got the rings soldered, I gave each one a quick, asymmetrical flare, a slight cleanup with the bristle disk, and threw them in the tumbler. Notice the difference in color in the photo below? The larger one on the left is the one that got pickled… several times. The smaller one on the right was never so unfortunate. I’m not a huge fan of the pinkishness of it, and while I could polish that out, I think I’ll leave it for awhile and see how it wears. It might get more pink, it might turn brown or grey. Who knows? I’ll let you know when I do.
Now the real test: Does it turn my finger green? It looks like it might be trying to, but I’ve only been wearing it for a couple of hours. **Update: Yep, it’s turning my finger green. However, I choose to see it as still wearing my ring, even when it’s off 🙂
I know the above photo is a little blurry on the face of the rings, but the inside is clear. You can see that they look the same on the inside as on the outside. I like that.
One final note. I didn’t think that the rough finish would be very conducive to stamping. I like to stamp the inside of all my rings, and I was worried that wouldn’t be possible. I used 2mm letters (that’s pretty small!) on the inside, and they’re just as legible as they are on a flat surface! You can just barely make it out in the pinkish ring in the first picture.
Has anyone tried the technique yet? I’d love to see if you do!!
Happy No Pickling!