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Beyond my known world of metallurgy

Recently I taught a Resin Inlay workshop to some high school
students. We used sterling wire for the boarders, brass for the base
and since my order of sterling strip didn’t make it in time, I used
some fine silver bezel strip for the wire work instead. I would have
used wire and rolled it, but we had only five hours to teach these
kids everything, so we improvised.

In soldering the wires down to the brass base, the most amazing
thing happened. The brass overheated (we were rushing in the end) and
the fine silver slipped through the brass like you had soldered on
both sides, completely intact. It was like the brass was cardboard
and the hard wire just pushed through perfectly. I was stunned and
had never seen this before.

What exactly happened here? This went beyond my known world of
metallurgy, but I am sure that this list can provide an answer.



School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854


Just a guess here. I think the brass was at its melt state not its
flow state. The flow state is when its a liquid and is at a higher
temputure. I know from trying to melt brass that it doesn’t easily,
it sits there. flow

Chris Gravenor

I could guess at some of the factors at work in your experience -
melting points, eutectics - yeah, I could see it. I’d say the real
explanation, though, is the Forrest Gump Law, which I just made up.
You had the metals, the fluxes, and the torch together in a
combination you could never duplicate in a million years, and it just
did it. In other words, Great Shot!!!

I had this happen with my beginning enameling students with the fine
silver wire and copper (even with a layer of enamel under the wire).
It was explained to me that when fine silver and copper or copper
ally touch the melting temp reduces at that point. The copper
softens at that point and gravity starts to pull the silver thru.

based on what i know of metallurgy, the theorem i as i know it goes
something like this…( and relates to wave and particle physics of
crystal structures):

the brass being an alloy of compacted metallic structures became
heated to the liquidus state, and the crystals of metal, still BARELY
attached to each other, stretched to their absolute limit, much like
a mesh, or netting, that allowed the non-alloyed fine silver, to fill
in the essential “holes” in the walls of netting with crystals of
silver that were somewhere between the liquidus and solidus states (
you perhaps could have manipulated it as a paste like material at
that point) yet remained ‘complete’ crystalline components/structures
that wouldn’t stretch as the alloy did, but would have flowed,like
they were lined up- with gravity in a downward direction and probably
in a linear pattern.(if you had some flux,or other conductive
substance applied non-linearly it may have taken a zig-zag path for
instance).As the metals coolled the crystals shrunk and the silver
became the mortar and the adobe, so-to-speak, both filling in the
holes, and coating the entire structure…Hope this really crude
explaination creates some mental picture of the process …I’m amazed
that you were able to repeat the phenomenon over and over…i’m also
wondering if you were using a flouride based flux ( battern’s like)
or borax based ( cupronil,prips, handyflux,etc.,).


You made extra easy silver solder (silver and brass) and the center
of the wire sank into the solder (sterling is denser than the brass
and solder).

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts