It’s Time to Create Metal Components…

It’s been some time since I’ve worked with metal.  I’ve been making lots of polymer clay components, but I want to use sterling silver as well in the necklaces and bracelets I plan to create in the coming weeks.  Uniform links in different shapes to connect polymer and beadwoven elements are what I have in mind.  I could form the links by hand but then I thought, “Why not use my NTAJ (Now That’s a Jig) tool to perform this task.”  My NTAJ had been sitting on a shelf collecting dust, but just as one never forgets how to ride a bicycle, working with the jig was just a matter of setting it up on my workbench and using various pegs to create the shapes I had in mind.

Now, lest one think that soldering metal components made on a jig is a piece of cake, it isn’t.    Each shaped wire component needs to be cut precisely with the ends aligned perfectly.  This requires cutting both ends flush and filing off any unevenness as solder will not fill empty spaces. In doing so, the precise shapes I had created on the jig had to be realigned so the ends of the wire would meet exactly.  After performing that task each link was dipped in flux, tiny chips of solder were applied, and I fired up my torch to complete the task.

The links were then placed in a pickling solution to remove the fire scale that forms on sterling silver during the soldering process.  Then came the task of reshaping the links with jeweler’s pliers.  Once reshaped, I opted to add texture to the sterling links with a hammer.

Dipping silver in a solution of liver of sulfur gives the links an antiqued, tarnished finish.

I then used a polishing square to rub the dark patina off the surface, leaving only a hint of darkness in the recessed areas that had been hammer-textured.

The final step was to throw all the links into a jeweler’s tumbler and run it for several hours.  This final step adds strength and extra shine to the silver.  And voila!  I now have some really nice sturdy links to use in my mixed-media work!

~ by BarbaraBriggsDesigns on May 1, 2019.

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