If you work with metal and use hot connections rather than cold connections (such as wire wrapping), there are a few important tips to keep in mind.
First, a quick explanation of the 2 types of connections, Cold and Hot…..
*Cold Connections involve connecting 2 or more pieces of metal together without using heat.
Two types of cold connections used in jewelry making are wire wrapping and riveting. There are others (I am sure) but these two are fairly common. The first, wire wrapping, I have never tried (although I know many people who do use this technique). The second, riveting, I learned in my college Metalsmith class. This is a photo of a rived project I made in Metalsmith 1 class at SUNY Brockport…
Riveting involves a few steps…
1. Drill the same size hole in 2 pieces of metal
2.Cut a small piece of metal tube which fits tightly in the holes you cut in your metal project
3. Sand/smooth both ends of metal tube to remove burs
4. Fit the metal tube tightly into the 2 holes of your project, once in place use a hammer to carefully pound the metal tube down until flush with your metal. Once finished the rivet will hold the one piece of metal to the other.
Riveting works good for larger projects but since I make small scale jewelry, I prefer hot connections.
*Hot connections involve using heat to connect 1 piece of metal to the other. My hot connections involve silver soldering using a torch. There are many different types of torches on the market, there are also different types of gas available to power your torch… it all depends on what works for you and your workspace.
When soldering you can connect different types of metal, brass, copper, gold or sterling silver… I use sterling silver. When soldering, the solder I use is silver (solder is what holds the 2 pieces of metal together, think of the solder as the “glue”). If you are soldering 2 pieces of copper together with silver solder remember…. after you use your torch and silver solder your connection you will see a bit of silver at the connection site!! Some people don’t mind this but others don’t like to see silver at the connection site on a piece of copper jewelry. You can clean the joint using a dremel tool to sand/grind off the visible solder but the connection joint will always have some silver on it (if you remove all of the silver you will open the joint back up and your connection is ruined). Keep this in mind. This photo shows some of the silver visible under the copper at the connection site….
Personally, I don’t mind seeing some silver on a copper piece of jewelry, it gives it a rustic quality which I like. Silver soldering involves practice with your torch… the more you do it the better you get. It also involves using very small chips of silver solder, and by very small I mean tiny like the size of crumb – that small!! If you use too big a piece of solder, once you use your torch and make the connection, you will have A LOT of clean up to do on your jewelry!! You’ll need to do a lot of grinding and sanding with the Dremel to the remove excess solder that melted and hardened.
* The key: Use a small enough solder chip that will hold the connection together but not too big so that you have a lot of clean-up once the connection is made and hardened.*
I hope you learned something about the basic processes available when working with metal!! Feel free to check out my soldered jewelry on my etsy shop, Sunshine On Water, here:
Betsy ~ Sunshine On Water