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The Work Room is the Creative Journal of Wendy Sue where she shares her creative journey in all things handmade. The Work Room also offers an alternative to your typical jewelry making workshops. Scroll down to the end of the page to see how you can learn to make your unique piece of artisan jewelry online.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Beginner's Silversmithing : Part VII - It's a wrap!

I'm wrapping things up before the year ends!

But before I do that, allow me to get this off my chest first. So here's the story. 2009 hasn't been a particularly good year for me. True enough, I got to go places, see new things and learn new things. That, I am very grateful for, given the 'predicament' that I'm now in.

At the same time, it was also the most heart aching moments I've ever experienced in my life. So heartaching that I even woke up in the middle of the night with an heartache. So painful that I still shudders at the thought of it. I think there was a short period of time in the UK, that I was experiencing some sort of a depression.

It was something personal. To others, it might seem like nothing but to me, it hurts a lot. All I can say is that lesson learnt although I would have appreciate it even more if it wasn't done in the way that it was done.

There are two sides to a coin, so many different branches from the same tree, so many different veins on the same leaf.

Anyway, I'm just glad to be back at home. No wonder they say there's no place like home!

I need to get this off my chest, to wrap things up, shove it behind the doors of 2009 and in the words of a friend, "lock it and throw the Keys into the Depths of Yesteryears and will look forward to the trials and challenges of 2010. It ain't gonna be a smooth ride, but then again, nothing ever is".

So, I'm ending all the stories of my UK adventure in this post, on the last day of 2009 and tomorrow onwards shall be a fresh start all over again.

Sorry, I've digressed too much along the way already... LOL.... just need to get it off my chest! Phew!

Okay, back to the story. The ring you see above was the one I remade out of the failed metal clay pieces. Remember this and this?

I was very amazed but at the same time very intrigued with metal clay.

I attended the silversmithing course right after the metal clay classes. The failed metal clay pieces merely gave me the perfect excuse to experiment further with the medium.

The particles of metal clay, once fired, goes through a sintering process and turns to metal. Hearing that and actually seeing it happening right before my eyes was a very different feel together. Yes, I'm in awe with metal clay.

Accordingly, you can do what you do to metal the same way to fired metal clay as well. I was very keen to test it out.

I brought the failed pieces to Yvonne and told her I want to have them melted and turned into a new ring using silversmithing techniques. Yvonne was just as interested to try it out although she did mentioned that she wasn't very impressed by it. Oh well, she's a purist, I reckon! LOL.....

But...... before we can go ahead and melt it. If you remember, the petals of the rose was set with some CZs (Cubic Zirconia) and we need to remove that first.

It felt just like metal!

Okay, this part felt a 'lil funny. It just reminded me of tooth extraction at the dentist! LOL... XD

Don't ask me why. That thought just sprang to mind! :P

All rotten teeth CZs are removed!

And now, we're all ready to melt!

It melts just like how sterling silver would!

Molten fine silver.

When cooled........

You get fine silver ingot!

Next up, to put it through a couple of tests. Well, I didn't actually had this in mind but Yvonne implicitly suggested it, so what the heck!

First and foremost was to put it through the rolling mill.

If you're wondering what's up with the patterns, well that's because we did some stamping with it!

In other words, after turning it into metal sheet, we ran some other stuffs together with the sheet through the rolling mill. Some pretty obvious ones that you can see are like paper clips, chains and I think the netted effect was from some mesh I think.

Actually, the edges of the sheet cracked a little initially. You know, just like how flour dough cracks a 'lil when it is a 'lil dry. Then I think it was because we didn't anneal it enough or something because as we anneal it and run it through the rolling mill, it turns out alright in the end which led us to continue with the stamping.

Ouh, we also try out doming but doming wasn't exactly experimented with that metal clay piece. We just used some sterling silver scrap that Yvonne had but I believe it would work on that just as well because doming is just a very straightforward technique of turning metal sheet into dome.

You do this......

To get this......

Pretty straightforward, no?
After we are satisfied with all the "guinea-pigging" work. We start getting down to business and that is the remelt it to make it into the second ring design.

We melted it again to turn it into square wire. The design for the second ring is predominantly made from wire with a circle disc thingy affixes at the top.

Erm, okay, I think it'll probably be clearer for you to see from the pictures.

It's just a long piece of wire folded into half , soldered at the ends and with a round silver disc soldered at the fold. Actually, what I had in mind was to have the disc soldered above the wire instead of below, so that the disc appears to be floating at the top instead of impressed down on the hollow. Oh, well......

Also, if you see from the picture below, the ring band is not a joined band, which was intentional. It wasn't supposed to be so close to the other end that it looks like it is almost joining already. Now, it looks  more like an unfinished piece rather than part of the design. o_O

The wires was too long already, which is why it ended up almost joining. It was supposed to be shorter. The ring ended up slightly loose at that time but ever since I returned to Malaysia, I think my fingers expanded or swollen or what, I'm not sure but it seems to fit alright.

Okay, now it's to put it through the soldering test.

Here's the thing, I've read before that metal clay is more porous compared to sterling silver. So, I was keen to see how it's going to survive the soldering test. It can be done but there are a couple of things to look out for.

The two wire ends were soldered together using easy solder paste. No problems with that but on hindsight, I wondered now why was it soldered when it could have been fused together. Fine silver can be fused together, remember?

But anyway, the problem came with the disc.

Sa Kor had to cut the disc out for me since we were running out of time. :P

What you do not know is that the disc was actually cut out from a sterling silver sheet. So what we are doing now is soldering sterling silver to fine silver.

What was said about fired metal clay is that is is more porous that it soaks up solder more that sterling. Therefore, burnishing is recommended on the area of metal clay where the solder will be. We of course, did not do this step because neither of us know or thought about it at that time. It was due to the experience at that time which led me to search up on this upon return.

I'm not sure exactly what is meant by soaking up solder but when we were soldeing the disc to the fold, the solder kept 'jumping' and spreading out onto the disc upon melting instead of 'flowing' through which is ordinarily the case. In other words, it was kinda 'messy'.

It took us I think 3 time until we finally get it but even then, the finishing was a bit messy I think! *shrugs*

Also, another thing is this. I'm not sure if it's due to the earlier 'abuse' or the aftermath but the finishing looked horrible at the moment. The earlier abuse is the earlier melting and remelting coupled with the 'torture' through the rolling mill that we did earlier on. The aftermath abuse is not polishing it and me throwing it around.

After being worked on in the manner that we did, I even find the shine not as good as the other metal clay pieces. This one ended up a some sort of a matte silver *shrugs*

When I was still wearing it 24/7 upon return, it was still doing alright. But then I can't stand wearing my jewellery pieces 24/7 and so, I took it off and just left it on the bedside. Now it tarnishes horribly. I compared it to the other fired metal clay pieces. The others haven't tarnish one bit.

Either way, I just felt the something's amiss in this trial effort. Like it was done haphazardly without the requisite information. *scraches the head*

Oh, boy..... maybe I'll try the appropriate polishing step and we'll see what happens. But I wasn't been told about polishing in silversmithing in the class due to lack of time........ hhhhmmm, trial and error lor I guess and ......aaah, Google to the rescue!

Alright folks, it's a wrap then! Happy 2010! Have a great year ahead!

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