I had this exact same set of troubles a while back- the lack of
fusing, the reddish and black patina, etc. I got lots of helpful
suggestions at that time- that thread starts here:
After that, I worked on my own, and here are some of the things that
The metal has to be REALLY clean, like Rhonda shows in her videos,
where water will slick across the surface, and not gather or bead up
at all. I thought I was getting that level of clean with similar
methods to yours, but I was never getting that wet sheet look with
the water test, until I started using green scrubbies as she shows.
There is something magical in the green scrubbies that doesn’t happen
with brass brushes and soap. I don’t pickle until after I fuse, and I
just use a citric acid and water mix in a little crock pot.
I was using My-T-Flux, too, but I started watering it down for all
applications, sometimes up to half water. That seemed to really help,
and made the water-bead-look moment much more visible, so I could see
when the fuse was happening. Like I said in my original post back
then, I am new to all this, but the right moment for fusing and the
indicator visuals for it are much briefer than I expected. And the
colour change in the metal is very subtle, much more so than the fine
silver I was working with before. It helped me to work in a pretty
dark space, with just one light pointing up, off to the side, so I
could see my area, but the work was in the shade. I found that when I
stopped looking for an orange glow, as I had seen with fine silver,
and understood it more as just a slight change to salmony-pink, I got
the timing right.
There has to be very good contact between the pieces, and it helped
me to practice fusing little flat chips to each other, wire side by
side, and simpler, more flat surfaces like that for a while before I
went on to granules and edges fused down (like with bezels).
I use a Meco Midget torch, and was thinking that might have been the
problem, but I’ve had success with it since I practiced some more. At
Rhonda and others’ suggestions, I took the tip off entirely, and use
it that way. The flame is really loose, bushy, even floppy- think a
bigger version of a gas stove flame. That made a big difference in
not warping and discolouring the metal, which I think was from
overheating. I think the key is to heat all of the metal evenly, none
of it too much, and even indirect heat if you can, bouncing it off
the charcoal block. Keeping everything moving really helps, too, so
you don’t get hot spots. I made a turntable for my charcoal block as
in Rhonda’s videos, and I spin it pretty good as I’m working.
I hope this helps- it was really frustrating until I realized I
could tap in here for help, and get tips to try again and have better
luck. So, I hope you stick with it, especially since your gemstones
are gorgeous and your family is begging for jewelry!