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Brass metal ball up


I took a class at the Jewelry Arts Institute a few years back and I
remember that if you heated the fine silver, it rolled up into
itself and made nice little balls for granualtion. I’m making this
pendant in brass, and thought I would do something similar.
Unfortunately, the brass wouldn’t ball up. All it seemed to do was
turn into a steaming mass of burnt metal. Anyone know why it wouldn’t
do the little ball trick? Does that only work with fine metals like
silver and gold? If it’s possible to make it ball, could some one
please give me the heads up on how to do it.

Augest D.

Best to avoid melting brass (an alloy of copper and zinc). The fumes
are highly toxic. With the fume precaution in mind you can easily
a ball on the end of a brass wire, or a small snippet on a 'prepared’
charcoal/pumice block. Just avoid very high temperatures… a round
flame will melt it.

Peter Deckers
New Zealand


The steaming you refer to is actually the zinc part of the alloy
burning and producing zinc oxide, not a good thing to breath. I have
beaded the ends of brass rivet wire for pens by using less heat but
don’t hold the heat too long. My funnest experience,lol, with brass
was several years ago while trying to solder a brass bezel onto a SS
back for a pendant. The zinc “ate” into the silver before I could
pull my flame away. I still have the attempt to remind me to think
before doing.

Peace, Happy New Year

....the brass wouldn't ball up. All it seemed to do was turn into a
steaming mass of burnt metal. 

Augest, are you applying flux to the brass before heating? It needs
to be fluxed. The black flux for brazing is best, but the white flux
for silver soldering also works. I regularly form little balls on the
fluxed ends of 16-, 18-, 20-, and 22-gauge wires with my acetylene
torch (even with a butane torch, for the smaller-diameter wires).

I don’t agree that brass fumes “are highly toxic.” If you overheat
brass, the zinc will fume off, and that’s not good for you, but I
would guess that the fumes from the flux are more dangerous, so be
sure to wear a mask for fumes or use a good exhaust system (or both).

Judy Bjorkman