Here's my little setup on my desk with my mini-torch, heat proof surface (a ceramic tile I found in the garage), soldering pad, quenching bowl, and flux. I crack open the window above my desk for a little bit of air flow and I have a mini fire extinguisher in the room in case of a disaster. I went with a low tech and cheap option for pickle to remove firescale - hot vinegar and salt - it smells horrible, but it works very well and is totally non-toxic (I also do that in the kitchen where the smell won't linger as long).
First I tried out fusing fine silver. Fine silver is a bit more expensive than sterling, but fusing it is so easy without having to deal with flux and solder and pickling. I started out making ring bands from heavy gauge wire. I also ordered a steel ring mandrel so that I can hammer the heck out of the ring bands to texture them. Which is very satisfying... Here are some of my first creations.
I made myself a new (temporary) replacement wedding band set, with two plain and one textured band (because my fingers have gotten a wee bit too fat for my actual engagement and wedding bands.) I left them as three unconnected bands and I kind of like being able to twist them around - it helps keep my hands occupied when I'm feeling fidgety.
|Wow, my hand looks wrinkly close up...|
I also made a whole bunch of simple thin stacking rings and listed them in my shop.
|Available here in my shop.|
|Also available here in my shop.|
And that pretty much depleted my new order of fine silver, so I ordered more, a lot more. And moved on to soldering sterling silver.
Now, I'll just say upfront that I definitely subscribe to the notion that you have to make mistakes to learn. And luckily, with all the disastrous mistakes that could occur when holding a 2000° flame in your hand, all I managed to do was accidentally melt a balled headpin. Still, the abstract spatter that occurred when it hit the ceramic tile was interesting. I rolled with that, and melted that spatter into a ball and soldered it onto my first little tiny sterling silver ring.
And then I tried my hand at soldering a copper ring. I used some scrap sterling to make silver balls to cover up the silver line where I soldered the ring together. It's a little rustic, since I still haven't exactly gotten the hang of making pretty silver balls that don't have pits and dents in them.
Having gotten the hang of soldering, I made a pair of earring out of various size rings (and that is also listed in my shop.)
|You guessed it! For sale in my shop.|
I'm really glad I took the plunge and learned how to solder. I still really enjoy wire wrapping and I will keep making new wire wrapped jewelry, but soldering will open up new forms of jewelry that I can add to my shop. Next up will be sheet metal, and learning to make bezels for cabochons.