Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Balls at the ends


#1

I’ve asked about this before and might not have been clear so here is
a photo to show what I’m looking to do. I want to have a ball at
both ends of a gemstone using sterling wire and I’ve seen it done
with all kinds of gemstones and corals. What do I use to do this? A
butane iron? I want to make sure not to damage the stone but come
very close to it as the photo shows. I’m not a metalsmith and have
no one to ask about this technique which I’ve been wanting to do for a
long time.

Annie

Attchment removed


#2

Picture posted at:

I’ve asked about this before and might not have been clear so here is
a photo to show what I’m looking to do. I want to have a ball at
both ends of a gemstone using sterling wire and I’ve seen it done
with all kinds of gemstones and corals. What do I use to do this? A
butane iron? I want to make sure not to damage the stone but come
very close to it as the photo shows. I’m not a metalsmith and have
no one to ask about this technique which I’ve been wanting to do for a
long time.

Annie


#3

Annie,

From your description I believe that I once repaired a bracelet
similar to what you described. I believe it went through a washing
machine if I am remembering right. It was a link bracelet with many
amethyst beads on it. Each bead had a gold ball on each end and on
one of the balls was a jump ring to attach it to the bracelet. Some
of the gold balls had come off of the amethyst. The end of the link
with the jump ring had a gold wire soldered to the gold ball, the
bead holding the amethyst was glued on with what I thought was epoxy
since it cleaned up with a little soaking in acetone.

I cleaned up the gold beads and re-epoxied them to the wires being
careful of the amethyst.

Repair done, client happy.
I hope this helps.

Jerry


#4

Annie,

I have done pieces similar the picture. It requires very careful
shielding of the stone and a HOT flame, get in and get out FAST.
Warming the stone helps some. There is a limit as to how close you
can get too. I start with a wire that I have melted a bead on one
end…headpin.

Now the problem is that you want to use Sterling. Ain’t going to
happen. It conducts the heat far to easily to get the bead at all
close to the stone. I use gold. Platinum wire might be a possibility
too with the low heat conductivity.

To our laser people. Can this bead be formed with the laser welder?
Could you control the bead size?

Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#5

Annie,

Writing to this forum was the smart thing to do.

There are several methods, but here is mine.

You will need a very hot and tiny flame, butane won’t work. Use
fine silver not sterling. The copper content in sterling will make
an uneven ball. High karat gold will work fine, 18K and above. Stay
away from 14K as it has the same issues as sterling.

Cut a disk of thin grey cardboard, to a little bigger than your
gemstone. Make a small hole in the center and a slit. Soak it in
water.

Ball one end of the fine silver wire and thread it through. Take the
other end of the wire, thread it through the disk and ball the wire.

I came up this idea watching glassblowers use only wet newspaper to
shape hot glass.

You mention that you are not a jeweler or metalsmith. I suggest
that you outsource this part of the process to a jeweler. It will be
well worth your time rather than trying to put together a jewelers
propane torch and oxygen. However, if you incorporate this technique
frequently in your work, it would be worth it to you to take a
jewelry class.

Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


#6

Hi Annie,

I see this question asked from time to time. The answer is really
pretty simple. First use your mirco torch to melt a ball on one end
of the wire. Then pass it through the bead and flatten the unbeaded
end. Use a hot flame to run up the second ball as close to the bead
as is practical. Changing the cross section of the wire by
flattening really helps the second ball melt much faster. This
requires less time and therefore heat. You will have to play around
with the length of the wire until you get a good balance in the size
of the ball and how close it is to your bead. I use a hammer or
pliers to flatten the wire. I generally quench the second ball ASAP
in room temperature water.

I hope this helps you.

Jim Miller


#7
  [snip]...flatten the unbeaded end. Use a hot flame to run up the
second ball...[snip] 

Thanks! This is one of those forehead-smackers-- you know, “Now, why
didn’t I think of that!”

–Noel


#8

I agree with Noel on the tip! Thanks. I am going to try it and see
if I need to rethink my approach to close up fusing of Sterling wire.
I see no issue with gold. I can get away with that. It can be fun to
be proved wrong and learn a new trick.

Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#9

The important things, as mentioned before are protecting the stone
and using a hot, small flame, like oxy propane, for example.
Protecting it can be done a number of ways, including commercial
pastes that can be molded around the stones or you can take wet
toilet paper and wrap around it, or take a small jar lid (metal) and
fill with water. Then let the stone and one end of metal dangle lie
in the water while you melt the other end.

Jeanne
http://www.jeanniusdesigns.com


#10

Hello Orchidians,

The comments about the flattened wire tip to help ballup a wire end,
got me thinking. I’ve been playing around with Argentium sterling.
It’s lower melting point might be helpful in this effort. I’m going
to give this a try.

Judy in Kansas


#11

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/balls-at-the-ends

Use a small (5 cm deep? )metal box filled with wet sand and water,
and dig down the item, except what you need to melt. Use fine
silver. Same box is great to dig down a ring with a stone (if its not
to thick), and solder if you cut a piece to make it smaller or put
in a piece to make it bigger.

Lise
http://www.justliss.com


#12

hello!

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/balls-at-the-ends

i am new to silversmithing and am trying to figure out the best way
to ball silver wire that is very close to a gemstone or chain.

[see example: http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/2-end-balls.jpg ]

i know how to create one end, but i’m not sure how to finish off the
other end when the wire is so close to the bead or chain.

will a regular jewelry torch with a very localized flame such as a
Smith Little work?

thanks so much for any help! i really appreciate it!

jenni


#13

Hello Jenni:

Of course heating the wire with a hot flame to melt and ball up the
end is pretty easy when your just holding the wire in tweezers. It
is quite a different thing tring to ball up the end of a wire when
it is close to a stone or bead or an Omega clip back that you don’t
want to anneal. It is a quick in and out with a very hot torch. It
is cutting the wire to just the right length so that it will make
the right sized ball. It is getting the feel of exactly when to back
off the torch and if you need to quickly cool the item in water or
with soaked tissues.

Good luck.
Mike Mathews


#14

Why does the tip of a gold wire turn into a ball when heated

Rahul Rampuria


#15

Hi Rahul,

   Why does the tip of a gold wire turn into a ball when heated 

I’m not a metallurgist or a physicist, but I’ll hazard a guess.

A sphere is the most efficient form (volume per surface area) for
containing a given material.

The cohesive properties of the molten metal are such that they
prevent a small to modest sized molten mass from dropping from the
solid wire. The force of nature trying to be as efficient as
possible, causes the molten metal to form into the sphere shaped
ball.

Dave