I will try to answer your questions. I also suggest that since you
cannot afford a class or DVD, you do some reading. A good basic read
is the one I wrote for Art Jewelry magazine, downloadable from my
site http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/zd (under Publications), as well
as http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/136 Under FAQ, are my tips for
soldering and fusing. I recently updated and added to the more
detailed technical guide that Rio Grande offers as a download in
their Learning area http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1v0
Just how hard of a learning curve is there to switch over to AS, if
you learn about it's characteristics do you have a good chance that
a switch over will be fairly quick and painless?
I found it easy, but I think it may depend on your work habits.
People who are accustomed to pushing things to fit while they solder
seem to find it difficult to change to making sure that everything
fits and is ready to solder prior to applying heat.
2) I am assuming that the price of the AS and it's solders is
similar to standard sterling? Is there a price raise for
Yes, AS costs more than SS. When SS was $10/ounce, AS was about $11.
When SS is $30 or more per ounce, AS is several dollars more per
3) From what I am reading, the malleability seems to be better.
What about using As as thin strips for bezel wire? Has it been
tried, and what, if any, are the benefits/drawbacks? (Typically I
use fine silver but have occasionally used sterling. (Could this
possibly be a money saving alternative?)
AS is not as soft as fine silver. I still like to use fine silver
for a bezel, because then I can harden the piece before setting the
stone, and te fine silver is still soft.
4) For those that always use As, have you seen any reluctance on
the part of customers not trusting it as a "New Metal"?
I have not had a problem. I simply say that it is a new, improved
sterling alloy that is highly tarnish resistant.
5) Does As solder well with other metals, i.e. copper, gold & even
brass. I am using more brass lately, for an affordable color
change option in some of my work, as opposed to Gold. Can I get
away with soldering argentium silver to brass with careful heat
control and easy solder, and can I solder it to gold & copper, too?
No problem soldering to other metals. It was brought home to me how
easy it is during this past week, in fact. I have been teaching in
Anchorage, Alaska this week. The first workshop that I taught was on
Argentium Sterling—Fusing, Granulating and Soldering. A 19 year old
with no metal experience completed several AS pieces using both
fusing and soldering. In the second workshop, Synclastic and
Anticlastic Hammering (Shell Forming), he also made a number of
copper pieces on which he soldered Argentium Sterling.
6) Do I need to change my pickling solutions? With Rio Pickle in
particular, and will a "Super Pickle" (Rio Pickle mixed with
peroxide instead of water) still work if I am cleaning a mixed
metal piece? Is there still a white hazy "pickle skin" (as I call
it), when you pickle argentium silver, and if so does is clean off
the same as with sterling?
You don’t need a different pickle. Yes, it comes out of the pickle
white, just like SS.
7) Is there a decent supply of As findings being offered in the
marketplace, such as tubing, stone settings, etc. I typically make
my own, but sometimes I order them in. Are there some good supply
houses to keep in my notebook?
Rio Grande and gsgold have the most AS findings. There are not as
many available as for SS.
8) How does As perform with the use of conforming die
applications, for embossing and forming? Do you see any major
differences or need to make any major adjustments? (specifically in
use of my Bonny Doon press and rolling mill applications, as well
as with hand forming? I have read that it is really forgiving and
moves really well.
You will find that AS works a bit better than SS for forming. Just
be careful when annealing.
9) How about enameling and glass applications? I use sterling in
enameling, being able to raise a fine silver layer is a really
nice option with standard sterling, can you enamel onto As in the
same fashion you would sterling, and is there a difference in the
way you would prep an As piece to raise an enamel friendly surface
There does not seem to be any problem with opaque enamels. I am
currently working on AS transparent enamel experiments with Troy
Hines. We have had promising results, especially with leaded enamels.
It seems best to fire at 1400 degrees F, rather than higher
temperatures. We have had the best results, so far, when we prepared
the AS by putting it in the kiln at 1400 and then pickling to
deplete, two times.
Can I form glass beads directly onto argentium tubing like I would
I have no idea about this. Do you mean enameling onto tubing? Or
slumping glass? Or?
I really want to give a thorough try, but just can't afford to buy
it for experimentation. If I make the purchase it will be for
making a piece for my website inventory or perhaps this upcoming
commission I have. I am gearing up to do a very important and semi
large piece, (a full wrap bracelet that will be first embossed in
the Bonny Doon, then engraved, enameled, and as well will have some
I do not think it wise to begin using a new material for a large,
important piece. Start with simple pieces for your website inventory.