Thursday, June 21, 2012

In My Studio - Sterling Silver Ring

Happy Thursday,

It's Studio time again, but when isn't it around here.

Today I thought I would show a project that I completed as part of the classes I am taking to upgrade and refresh my skills.  It has been a long time since I soldered anything.  For the past couple if days I have been annealing metal and playing with fire.

I had not intended on sharing this particular project, as it was meant as a practice piece, so I did not take progress pictures.  I should probably do that.  Any way, I thought to it would be good to show what is good, and what is not so good about the ring.  It will not be put up for sale, as I do not feel good about listing this anywhere, but it will work as example for now.

Twisted Celtic Knot Style Sterling Silver Ring
Original Design by The Alchemists Vessel

This ring is made of Sterling Silver sizing stock, I think it was meant as a bezel strip, but I liked it and it felt like it would be easy to work with, I believe it was 18 gauge stock.

Rings are made using sheets or strips of metal.  The metal is cut, shaped, hammered, heated, and repeat around the mandrel until you have a circle.  The joint or seam where the ends meet is then soldered.  The metal is cleaned and polished.  Viola!  You have a ring.

Due to heating, and pickling during the process of forming the ring, sometimes not all the fire scale or other agents that are hard to get off the ring will be removed entirely.  In the case of the twisted-braid like design, some areas are difficult to reach, as seen here.  More polishing and / or a Q-Tip is required.

Soldering a ring is not easy, I do not know what I was thinking when I soldered the inside of the ring, over flow spills into the twist pattern of the stock, in an effort to make it smooth, I over polished and wore some the unaffected stock flat.  Oops!  This needs another cleaning as well.  I see spots!

The last photo shows the back of the ring where it has been joined, this is the toughest part about soldering, guessing the correct amount of solder needed to seal the seam.  I used a paste type solder instead of wire type solder.  That was a mistake, as working with the unfamiliar paste type lead to "bad" jewelry finishing.  The problems I encountered with the stock were due to my choice of design.  The rounded edge does not meet flush, and therefore does not create a good joint for the solder to fill.  The stock itself is twisted around itself, making two pieces into one, this also does not work well, as some of the solder has pitted and / or pooled in the spaces of the stock.  Pitting, the holes that you see, can come from over heating the metal, not using enough flux, or simply too much solder, as was the case here I think.  It is possible in my attempt to smooth out the join while polishing that I over polished the spot causing a hole to form in the solder itself.

The only way to correct this is to saw the ring apart, removing the soldered area and sizing the ring smaller, re-soldering the joint (seam) and trying not to make another mess in the process.  This is why they call it practice, and it most definitely makes perfect, in this situation anyway.

Thank you for stopping by and having a read.  In hope this was informative or at least interesting.

The Alchemists Vessel would like to wish you a pleasant Thursday.

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