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Balling up sterling silver wire rough look


#1

Hi, I’m new to the forum. I’m a full-time lampwork bead artist
living in South Australia, and have been working with glass for over
20 years.

I did a jewelry making course about 10 years ago, and it is
something I’ve always enjoyed but have done on a very irregular
basis, until now.

I am now including it in my regular working day, but am quite
frustrated over what seems a very small thing, and this is where I
am hoping someone will be able to offer some advice. When balling up
sterling silver wire I generally end up with a pitted ugly ball
which I pickle and then need to file to try and take out the pits. I
have changed over to fine silver which results in a beautiful smooth
ball. Soldering this to a sterling silver stem, but although it looks
very nice I’m concerned with the softness of fine silver, as I like
to use it to form ‘wispy’ off shoots on necklaces and do not want it
to bend, it does seem a little harder after tumbling in steel shot,
but still too soft for my liking. Is there something I have
overlooked when balling the ends of sterling silver, I’ve tried both
with the end dipped in flux and without, would appreciate any help.

Lorraine Allan
G&S Lampwork


#2

About you not able to get a smooth round silver bead for your silver
jewelry.

I do not know what torch you are using but if you use an acetylene
torch the light blue flame coming out of the tip is gas that has not
yet started to burn, so it is cold, this in mind try this.

Put your sterling silver to be melted on your charcoal block and
melt it, just as it balls up remove your flame to give it a chance to
form a ball, now take the torch and go down onto the ball using a
reduced flame, re melt the ball to a bright red, now lower the flame
onto the ball into the middle of the light blue flame, remember this
gas is cold, hold it there until the silver turns a gray color,
remove the flame and you will have a silver ball with no wrinkles.
Pickle and use.

Have a good day.
Lloyd.


#3
When balling up sterling silver wire I generally end up with a
pitted ugly ball which I pickle and then need to file to try and
take out the pits. 

Holding the tip of the wire straight up into the flame and letting
it ball down will usually produce a smoother and more consistent ball
than holding the wire down into the flame. Also, I’m a acetylene only
smith, but I would expect that an oxy mix might create more porosity.

Best wishes,
Victoria
Victoria Lansford
http://www.victorialansford.com


#4

Hi

When balling up sterling silver wire I generally end up with a
pitted ugly ball which I pickle and then need to file to try and
take out the pits. 

This is info taken from “The Encyclopedia of Jewelry Making
Tachniques” by Jinks McGrath…

Using tweezers, hold the end of a piece of wire against the side of
a charcoal block. Concentrate the flame just above the end until the
metal begins to run into a ball. Withdraw the flame when the ball is
the size you want. It is not stated, but the wire is pictured as
being held pointing straight down (with the end to be balled up at
the bottom). This will help your ball to form evenly. Possibly, the
additional heat provided by holding the wire against the side of the
charcoal is making the ball form much quicker and not giving enough
time to cause the pitting you are experiencing…this is just my
opinion though, it’s not stated in the book. Let everyone know how
you make out.

Kim Starbard
http://www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#5

Melt your ball, cool then reflux and reheat to the point where the
surface just gets shiny. Kinda like flame polishing I suppose.

if you want a nice even ball on the end of your wire without
soldering the two try this. Drill a hole in your charcoal block (I
prefer a hard block, more burn resistant), chamfer that off with a
ball bur of the size you want the finished silver ball to be, insert
wire with an appropriate excess sticking out, melt and remelt as
above into the chamfered hole. This should yield you a ball on a
wire rather than a globule that tapers from the wire.


#6

Hello…

When balling up sterling silver wire I generally end up with a
pitted ugly ball which I pickle and then need to file to try and
take out the pits. 

I have the same problem. I put small pieces of wire on my soldering
brick, flux them, and then ball them. After pickling & rinsing,
about 1/4 of them are pitted. What am I doing wrong?

Katie


#7
When balling up sterling silver wire I generally end up with a
pitted ugly ball which I pickle and then need to file to try and
take out the pits.

It occurred to me once that maybe the wrinkling was happening in the
same way hot pudding develops a wrinkled skin when put in the
refrigator–cooling too fast. So what I do is SLOWLY pull the torch
away after forming the ball. Seems to work for me.

Gary Strickland, GJG


#8

If you are making small round sterling silver balls try this.

If you are using a an acetylene torch do the following.

Place the silver onto a charcoal block, using a small flame #3 tip
(just large enough to melt the silver), melt the silver and when it
starts to form a ball, take the flame away and let it form, now put
the flame back unto the ball and re melt to a bright red, now drop
the flame directly into the middle of the light blue flame coming out
of the tip of the nozzle, you will find that the silver will turn
gray, that is because the middle of the flame is gas that is not
started to burn and is cold, now take away the flame, cool and
pickle.

If you are putting a ball on the end of a silver wire hold the
silver in tweezers and heat the end of the silver till it forms a
ball and do the same thing, but the ball into the middle of the light
blue flame. This will take a little practice but you will get the
same results. A good smooth ball, more like a tear drop.

If you have any questions about this procedure let me know.

Have a good day.
Lloyd.