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Argentium onlayed onto copper or bronze?


#1

I was wondering if Argentium can be onlayed onto copper and not
tarnish. There is a turn of the century style of Hollowware by a
company named Heitz, that I am interested in reproducing. I have
done some of this style with regular Sterling, soldering it, but I
had troubIe with the solder pooling into the copper around the edges
of the design. This requires a lot of cleanup. It also is very time
consuming to tin the sterling in order to sweat solder it onto the
copper. I read that Argegntium fuses beautifully and recently tried
an experiment of fusing it to copper, it fused easily, completely
with no pooling onto the copper. II haven’t tried activativing the
germanium surface yet to know if the argentium will tarnish or not.
Just wondered if anyone had tried this yet and what their results
were. Will the copper eventually bleed through the Argentium
(24-22ga) from the back? I was thinking that I might get some
wonderful colors on the copper too when I heat the piece in my oven.
Which brings be to another question, what’s the best way to get
really vivid colors on copper?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,

Thanks
Ellen Starr
Starr Design - Crystal, MN


#2

Ellen,

Did you have flux between the copper and the Argentium? A lot of
possibilities here!

Bill Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#3
Which brings be to another question, what's the best way to get
really vivid colors on copper? 

Ellen, one resource is a book by Jinks McGrath, The Jeweler’s
Directory of Decorative Finishes (2005), which has some good
on patinating/oxidizing copper, on pp 53-57.

Judy Bjorkman


#4

I use cooper a lot. Its a great contrast to silver. I have founf
putting both piecies in a clean hot pickle solution. run a brush
over it and rinse. When applying flux whip excess off flow solder
ontop material then sweat from the bottom.

This works every time. Use a brush flame heating from the bottom.

Eric


#5

Wow, Ellen, this is really exciting!

I knew that Argentium Sterling fused to copper in a very melted
state because I worked with Suzanne Juneau at the Stuller Workshop
last April. But, I have not tried fusing it in a crisp manner, as you
describe. How fabulous that it works! Yahoo!

How are you doing the fusing? I would suggest black flux for working
with copper, but I wonder what you used? What torch? Any insights to
share?

I think that you should go for this! I do not think that there will
be any problem with bleed through with 24 gauge. The only thing that
you will need to be careful about is if you polish, not to smear
copper onto the silver, as that would, of course, tarnish.

In terms of beautiful colors on copper, I am personally fond of
cleaning the copper, then brass-brushing it with soapy water as a
lubricant, drying it, and then heating with a torch, gently. A wide
range of gorgeous colors are available. If you want that red that you
see sometimes on the antique stuff, like the old Tiffany two color
stuff, I saw some patina samples at the University of Illinois in
Champaign, where Billie Theide teaches, when I was doing a workshop.
She told me that they got the red by heating the copper to red hot,
and then quenching in boiling hot water. This might be a problem with
Argentium Sterling, but not with the Argentium 970 Silver. (currently
only available in grain. Sheet soon, I hope!)

PLEASE send me or post images of what you do! This sounds great!

Cynthia
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#6

Cynthia -

This (heating Cu red-hot & quenching) might be a problem with
Argentium Sterling, but not with the Argentium 970 Silver.
(currently only available in grain. Sheet soon, I hope!) 

Would you elaborate on this statement, please. I have not kept up on
the latest Argentium developments:

Debby Hoffmaster


#7
I knew that Argentium Sterling fused to copper in a very melted
state because I worked with Suzanne Juneau at the Stuller Workshop
last April. But, I have not tried fusing it in a crisp manner, as
you describe. How fabulous that it works! Yahoo! 
How are you doing the fusing? I would suggest black flux for
working with copper, but I wonder what you used? What torch? Any
insights to share? 

Just by chance, I did the fusing with flux that I use for 18K
granulation. I was first trying to see how easy it was to granulate
with 18K on the argentium - which by the way was beautiful. Since I
had that flux out I used it, but it might be the secret to the
’crisp’ fuse. The solution I used was 1 part Batterns, mixed with 3
parts water, 1 part hide glue or gum tragacanth and a little copper
carbonate powder. This formula is from Kent Raible’s granulation
masters class that I took at Revere. The copper powder makes the
flux lay nicely in place without pooling or bubbling and I only used
a very thin layer because I wasn’t sure if I even needed it.

Cynthia, Here’s a link to a site I have some of my photos posted on:
http://vestarr.zaadz.com/photos. I haven’t finished anything with
the argentium yet as I am just starting to experiment with it. There
is a piece with Copper and sterling though. From what I’ve seen so
far in my experiments, it makes me want to trade in all my old
sterling and only use it. It’s pretty wonderful stuff. I’ll post any
items to the site above when I finish them.

Ellen Starr
Starr Design - Crystal, MN


#8

Helen

Try this link at orchid

http://ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/list/f/Patination_Coloring.htm

This includes these two books:

  • Hughes, Richard, the Colouring, Bronzing and Patination of Metals.
    Watson-Guptill Publications, 1991.

http://www.ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/product/0823007626.htm

  • McCreight, Tim, and Bsullak, Nicole, Color on Metal: 50 Artists
    Share Insights and Techniques. Guild Publishing, April, 2001. These
    along with the one mentioned by Judy are on my want list.

http://www.ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/product/1893164063.htm

  • McGrath, Jinks, the Jeweler’s Directory of Decorative Finishes.
    Krause Publications, 2005. I TrdPbk.

http://www.ganoksin.com/jewelry-books/us/product/0896891933.htm

Karen Bahr - Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


#9

Hi Debby,

This (heating Cu red-hot & quenching) might be a problem with
Argentium Sterling, but not with the Argentium 970 Silver.
(currently only available in grain. Sheet soon, I hope!)

Would you elaborate on this statement, please. I have not kept up
on the latest Argentium developments: 

Peter Johns has been experimenting with Argentium alloys that have
more silver, in hopes of making it work better for enamellists. 970
Argentium Silver is currently available in casting grain. Peter
asked me for my input, so I poured an ingot, and was amazed at how
easily it rolled out. I am not an enamellist, so I don’t know how
it’s going to work for them, but I am looking forward to when this
970 AS alloy is available in sheet and wire, because I REALLY like
it! It is not fragile when red-hot, the way 925 AS is. (Yippee!) It
has a higher melting temp., so folks can use regular sterling hard
solder, if they want. It is REALLY soft when it is annealed, but
heat-hardens as hard as 925 AS. I did some quick fusing experiments,
and it still fuses beautifully. So, I imagine that it will cost more,
since it has more silver, but I am looking forward to doing more with
it in larger sheets.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#10

Cindy,

It is not fragile when red-hot, the way 925 AS is. (Yippee!) It has
a higher melting temp., so folks can use regular sterling hard
solder, if they want. It is REALLY soft when it is annealed, but
heat-hardens as hard as 925 AS. 

Sounds like he is getting the bugs out of the product. Keep us up to
date about when it will be available as mill product.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#11
I am looking forward to when this 970 AS alloy is available in
sheet and wire, because I REALLY like it! It is not fragile when
red-hot, the way 925 AS is. 

So, Cindy, the remaining big question is, does it still get the
germanium layer that prevents tarnish? And if it does, what do we
need the “standard” alloy for?

Noel


#12

Hi Noel,

Yes, the germanium in the alloy combines with oxygen to create
germanium oxide. The germanium oxide does not let oxygen through,
thus preventing tarnish and firescale.

In terms of your question “what do we need the “standard” alloy
for?” I think, from what I’ve seen with the few pieces that I’ve made
with it so far, I’ll be using AS 970 rather than AS 925 when AS 970
becomes more readily available.

As for other people…heck, I have no idea. Argentium Sterling is
less expensive than 970 Argentium Silver, since it has less silver.
So far, that’s the only downside I see. It is really very little more
money, though–on line, 970 AS is only 20 cents more per troy ounce
than 925 AS.

Cindy
Www.cynthiaeid.com
Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#13

Hi Noel…

Not Cindy here…

Also depends on the heat-treating chracteristics of the 970… If
it’s as easy to deal with as the 925…or not…

I like the idea of using a kitchen or toaster oven to do the
majority of heat treating needs…

I also suspect the 970 would be at a premium price level… That
is…ARG 925 is a step up in price from std sterling… ARG 970
would be another price point up from that…

Kinda a Argentium Sterling Plus, if you would…

Here in Southeast WI, if you expose std sterling to the air, it
tarnishes instanter it seems…

I’ve been running a test with a piece of std sterling wire and a
piece of Argentium wire just kind of sitting out in the kitchen…

The Argentium is dead soft…and I haven’t heat activated it or
anything…

The std. sterling is showing colors…the Argentium pristine so
far…

Well…OK…I do use onions pretty often when I cook,
also…

BTW…if you want to see what’s floating around in your
neighborhood air… There’s a site for USA residents to hit and plug
in their zip code…

Gives you a snapshot of what’s going on, and better yet, who’s doing
things pollutant wise in your neck of the woods…

http://www.scorecard.org/

A Milwaukee zip…53210, for example, explains a lot why the
sterling colors so quickly, methinks…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)


#14
Sounds like he is getting the bugs out of the product. 

Now why would you say that James? Consider the following:

  • lots of folks --with the notable exception of yourself-- find
    Argentium Silver 925 (the generally commercially available stuff) to
    be very satisfactory as it is. What you seem to call “bugs” other
    people call “properties” and just get on with the job like they would
    for pretty much any other alloy.

  • as you well know many metals come in a variety of formulations in
    order to accommodate particular customer needs (casting alloys,
    etc). Are those all because the earlier versions of the alloy were
    "buggy"? Or perhaps it’s just because tweaking formulations can
    improve properties (or price point) for specific applications which,
    coincidentally, is what just about any book on precious metal alloys
    will tell you. It’s not “bugs” James, it’s “diversity” or “fine
    tuning” or whatever you care to call progress derived from
    specialized research.

I’m sure if someone came along, looked at the various metal
combinations you offer in your product line and said “oh, have you
finally gotten it right yet?” I’m sure you’d bristle a little at the
negative attitude implied by their question. Perhaps you wouldn’t,
but I’ll bet money that you’d take the opportunity to improve their
education regarding your products and the trade-offs involved. And,
of course, you’d be 100% right to do so because a question like that
would indicate a certain ignorance, at best, on the part of the
person saying such a thing.

Keep us up to date about when it will be available as mill
product. 

Quite so. The 975 formulation does sound interesting but of course
it will come a somewhat elevated price due to the increase in silver
in it. Like I (more or less) said earlier, different alloys for
different customer needs.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com


#15

Well, it’s been a long time since this first post, but I have some
updates and questions about working with Argentium and Copper.

So, first off - Fusing with Argentium is easy and wonderful. I used
Cuperonil - no solder. I did flux heavily to prevent the copper from
oxidizing. The piece I made was a hollowware vase and I was able to
use the fact that Argentium slumps to my advantage. While heating
the larger pieces of copper, the argentium relaxed onto the copper,
making it really easy to fuse it. Here’s a picture of the piece
before I had to reheat it…which brings me to my questions.

So here’s what happened next. I noticed that the argentium was
starting to tarnish, so I realized that I must not have heat treated
it long enough. So I read what everyone else wrote about how long and
at what temp. I reheated the vase at about 500 degrees for around an
hour. The result was the copper was now black, which I expected. I
then applied a soft bushy torch flame to it to recolor the copper and
remove the oxidation. I got the most amazing colors I have ever
managed. The catch is that something happened to the argentium while
I was heat treating the copper. It’s almost like the argentium copper
plated some how. It has oxidation on it and something that looks like
copper staining in places. Here’s a picture of it:

So why would the argentium, which has been heat treated get
oxidation? If I use a polishing cloth to remove the “graying (maybe
soot) and copper staining” am I going to remove the Germanium layer?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I absolutely love the
look of the argentium on the copper and the ease of working with it,
so I hope I can get this figured out.

Thanks
Ellen Starr
Starr Design
In chilly Minnesota - did you see the fabulous lunar eclipse last night?


#16

Ellen,

I have coated Argentium silver with copper in the same way you did
but on a much smaller scale than your beautiful vase. If any speck of
blackened copper oxide flakes off (while heating the copper or from
the pickle pot) and touches heated Argentium silver, the copper
alloys with the silver and quickly spreads over the surface.

I have not tried it, but think you might be able to prevent the
copper alloy from forming on the Argentium silver by coating the
silver with yellow ochre before you burn off the copper oxide.

Nancy
www.psi-design.com