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Difficulties with Silver granulation


#1

I have been trying to do granulation with silver and have been
successful in making the granules and copper plating them, but am
having trouble with the next step. I have read that I should mix
Batterns’ flux and hide glue to adhere the granules to the base. I
had thought that hide glue was just white glue like Elmer’s, but it
won’t mix with Batterns. What is hide glue? I tried using the glue
only and heating the piece with a Prestolite. The granules adhered to
each other but not to the base. Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks.
Ann


#2

Hi Ann,

Hide glue is just what it says - glue made by boiling down cow hides

  • the same idea as fish glue and rabbit skin glue. For your purposes
    you just need something that will stick the granules in place until
    the joint starts to form and then burn away without leaving much
    residue. One of the easiest things to use is probably what the
    ancients used for granulation - honey (the clear type).

Best Wishes
Ian

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#3

Hi Ann

Hide glue is exactly that, it is the boiled down hide and sinew from
animals, specifically horse and cow. Some prefer horse for
woodworking projects, but I have never noticed a difference between
it and cow. The stuff is most definitely not white Elmers.

I would look at wood working shops for the stuff or online. It will
come as flakes or pellets and needs be heated in a pot with water to
make it fluid again.

If it needs to be pure, I don’t think I would get a ready mixed
bottle they add stuff to it which may affect your process.

Terry


#4

Ann:

Hide glue is an organic glue used in making musical instruments.
It’s important to use an organic glue in granulation because it burns
off (at least that’s what I was told). I found that Titebond makes a
hide glue and I can find it at Lowe’s or most places that specialize
in woodworking. Please note, that since it’s organic, it will
eventually spoil. My old glue starts to mold when I mix it with the
flux/distilled water mixture.

Also, you might try granulation using powdered copper hydroxide. If
you want more details on that type of granulation, please feel free
to contact me offline.

Good Luck!
Tammy Kirks
Red Bee Designs


#5

Ann,

I am assuming that you are using the bottled hide glue, like what I
used to buy from the woodworker’s supply place. That glue used to be
made entirely from animal based ingredients. The formula has been
"updated" in the last year or so and it is no longer appropriate for
granulation. They have added some plastics (PVA) to improve the
performance for woodworking, which makes the glue useless for
granulation.

Hide glue is added to the granulation process to perform two
functions. First, to adhere the granules to the surface. Secondly,
the organic material in the glue created carbon when heated, which is
an important part of the chemical reaction in granulation. What you
need is another compound that can perform these functions. I have had
great luck with starchy flours subsitited for hide glue. I have used
potato flour, and rice flour. I have even used instant mashed potato
mix with great success. The flour will eventually spoil, but I simply
remove the mold, and keep using the solution (gross, yes, but it
works just fine). Of course, flour is not as sticky or as durable an
adheisive as hide glue.

I have a package of dry hide glue granules that I have not
experimented with yet. The bag contains (as far as I know) grated-up
dried rabbit skin. This kind of glue is generally used by painters. I
have instructions to prep the granules by heating on a double boiler.
This should make an adheisive similar to what I used to buy in the
bottle. I got the dried rabbit glue granules at an art supply store,
so they should be easy to find. If I get around to playing with this
stuff soon, I will let you guys know.

Good luck
Troy


#6

I’ve used the liquid hide glue for granulation, mixed with Batten’s
flux and water, and it’s worked fine.

Amanda Fisher


#7

Search gilders glue on google-- you will find the glues. Plain knox
gelatin is basicly a fine glue used very thin – egg white etc these
things have been around about 4500 years. no magic…

Really clean glue forms a reducing atmosphere when burning off. A
very little copper carbonate makes a copper gold diffusion joint. In
a lot of the historical metals books but Jack Ogdens ‘Ancient
Jewelry’ has it too. He shows up on this list occasionally as I seem
to remember

Silver isn’t really different since it makes a similar joint.

jesse


#8

Regarding the hide glue substitues made from potato flour, rice
flour etc spoiling, You might try adding a drop or two of carbolic
acid to the mix, and see if it acts as a preservative. I make batches
of gum tragacanth, and just add some carbolic acid to it, and it
seems to keep forever.

I used to be able to get carbolic acid at any hardware, feed store,
or drug store, but the last time I went to get some I found I had to
have a prescription. I haven’t a clue as to why one needs a
prescription now, but seems that in Oregon it is the law.

Alma


#9

Try Klyr-fire liquid glue from Thompson Enamel. It is much cleaner
and easier to use. www.thompsonenamel.com

Good luck,
Nancy
www.psi-design.com


#10
It's important to use an organic glue in granulation because it
burns off 

The hide glue also contributes carbon, which is reputed to help the
fusion process.

Noel


#11
Hide glue is exactly that, it is the boiled down hide and sinew
from animals, specifically horse and cow. 

Woodcraft carries hide glue. it can be ordered online at
woodcraft.com


#12

You don’t mention if you are working with Sterling Silver or Fine
Silver. Fine silver is easier to granulate with. I have never used
the copper coating with silver granules, only with gold, and that is
a step which you can eliminate. Hide glue is still sold in some old
fashioned hardware stores, or suppliers for woodworkers. It is a
brownish color, and is a thick, slow running substance. If you can
find it in it’s sluggishly liquid form, you can use it directly from
the bottle. I’ve never run into a problem with additives. The mixture
to use for the ‘granule holding’ process is: approximately 10 drops
water, one or two drops hide glue, and about 4 drops of liquid flux,
using a small eye dropper. Remember to heat the piece with the hide
glue on it in slow stages, and have it set in the kiln before you
heat it enough so the hide glue dissolves away. At that point the
granules are loose and will fall off or roam around if you move the
piece.


#13

While o the subject of fine natural glues used in the arts - search
fish skin glue on google. You should find the results interesting. I
believe the last company in the US that made hide glue was located
just south of Milwaukee

but it closed a few years ago.

jesse


#14

Kimberly,

I just made up a batch of granulation glue which worked quite well.
However, there is a difference between granulating with gold and
with silver that hasn’t been mentioned here.

Here are some tips which should will give you successful pieces.

  1. Granulation glue mixture. 10 drops of DISTILLED water, 3 drops of
    Batterns flux and 3 drops of Titebond Hide Glue. Use a small plastic
    container with a lid. Use separate eye droppers for each one. Don’t
    cross contaminate. Make small batches at a time. Put the date on your
    jar when you make the glue, toss it out after two weeks. It’s such
    small amounts anyway, compared to redoing the granules.

  2. The fine silver should be painted with yellow ochre on one side.
    This helps insulate the silver keeping everything nice and hot.

  3. Although you can work directly on a charcoal block, I like to
    heat everything up in a kiln first and then use the torch.

  4. Yellow ochre is messy and contaminates everything. Keep your work
    area pristine!

  5. Unless you are using sterling silver granules, there is no need
    to coat them in copper. Fine silver works the best.

  6. I like to use a water color plastic painters tray. It has about 8
    round scoops, perfect for storing the granules, some water and the
    glue. If too much glue is used, a little touch of water with your
    paint brush works wonders to reduce the glue’s grip.

  7. Before you place your newly glued spheres with your silver into
    the kiln, be sure to dry the glue out first. Parking them next to the
    kiln opening works well. I didn’t wait a couple of times and watched
    my gold spheres jump off. Place your dried piece onto the kiln shelf
    and wait for it to heat up. Once it gets hot, take your torch with a
    small tip and wave it gently over your piece. Once it heats up, wait
    for the blink or small shimmer and your granules will fuse nicely.

Once they have adhered, I like to blow on the metal to cool it down.
If you get a new trinket kiln, be very careful, as they are hot and
will literally melt your piece!

  1. If you are making a piece with wires, fuse these first. It’s nice
    to have a little steel spatula to push the wires down if you need to.
    Do it while it is hot though.

Gold is similar except you have to coat your granules first with
copper. The copper creates a eutectic bonding, sort of an
intermediate stage between the gold. Use 22K and above.

To charge the granules, one way is to use saturated pickle in a
copper dish. Place the granules in the dish and dip a little steel
wool. Personally, I like to use very thick steel wool, as the little
pieces of steel don’t come off in the solution. If they do, they are
easy to retrieve.

Good luck!

Thanks to Ronda Coryell for all this info.

Couple of great sites to look at granulation.


http://www.kentraible.com/

-k

Who is looking forward to Tucson!!!

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


#15
I had thought that hide glue was just white glue like Elmer's, but
it won't mix with Batterns. What is hide glue? I tried using the
glue only and heating the piece with a Prestolite. The granules
adhered to each other but not to the base. Any advice will be
appreciated. 

Just catching up on Orchid postings and yours caught my eye. You’ve
had a lot of knowledgable responses. Two things I would like to add
heRe:

First, it doesn’t necessarily need to be hide glue. The purpose of
the glue is to get the little buggers (granules) to stay put until
you’re ready to fire them. All that’s required is for the “glue”,
whatever you might be using, to be organic and for it to be able to
carbonize before it reaches the fusing temperature. The adhesive
doesn’t matter whether it’s hide glue, flour, corn syrup, or even
sticky spit after you’ve sucked on a piece of candy.

Second, someone mentioned Titebond glue. I’ve found it to be an
excellent glue. Just make sure what you get is the one that is the
dark brown viscous liquid. I happen to know that Woodworkers’ Supply
of Wyoming (also in New Mexico and one other state) sells it and has
an online catalog.

Usual disclaimers about a personal reference.

Kathy in Wyoming, formerly of New Mexico


#16

Hi Ann,

I’ve been reading the thread on “Difficulties with Silver
granulation” and I would like to comment on the advice you’ve
received.

Silver granulation is simple. (I didn’t say easy) You are basically
heating to a slow, controlled, surface flow (melt). This is Fusing.
Granulation is fusing granules to a surface and to each other.

Fine Silver is preferable to sterling. (Yes, there are those who use
sterling) I think sterling is a dreadful metal, sometimes necessary,
but not for granulation.

I was interested to read that hide glue is now new and improved with
nasty chemicals, not good. I guess I haven’t bought any hide glue
recently. The solid hide glue that dissolves in hot water works fine.
As does smelly fish glue and some other glues.

I love the idea of using honey! I’ll try that soon. Honey and Yellow
flux, I love it!

The point of mixing the hide glue with yellow hard solder flux is
this. After drying carefully and placing in kiln, the glue burns
away.

Simultaneously, the flux melts and takes over holding the granules.
It’s a wonderful thing. This is how one can granulate on a curved
surface or bead. If the granules move or fall off after the glue
burns away, you need to add more flux to the mix.

I start with 8 parts filtered (Brita) water (North NJ has hard
water) and 1 part flux, 1 part glue. I might have to tinker with the
mixture until the granules hold tight.

Use the smallest amount of glue that does the trick. Try to keep the
sheet around the granule design glue free. I mop up around the
granules with a damp rinsed brush. Too much glue/flux mixture and the
whole thing puffs up in the hot kiln.

Any type of copper mixture or copper plating of granules is totally
unnecessary for silver granulation. Gold is another story.

Clean Fine silver flows readily when heated slowly and gently to
flow point.

The backsheet should be thin, we use .011.

Thicker sheet is possible but takes more skill. When necessary I
sweat solder the finished granulation to a thicker sheet.

Your granules are fusing to each other but not the backsheet because
they got hot first and fused together before the back got hot. You
have to heat slowly and let the sheet around and below the granules
reach the same temp at the same time as the granules. Similar to
soldering. You have to heat the larger piece more so it gets hot at
the same time as the smaller piece and the solder flows to both,
Right!

Granulating in the kiln helps enormously to heat top and bottom
evenly. Just using a torch is possible but again requires more skill
and experience.

I hope I’ve clarified and demystified things somewhat. Good luck.

Regards,

Fredricka Kulicke

Fredricka Kulicke School of Jewelry Art
239 New Road, Suite B 101
Parsippany, NJ 07054

Tel. 201-230-2973
http://kulickejewelryschool.com


#17

Titebond Liquid hide glue can be purchased at most Ace hardware
stores or can be special ordered from them if not on the shelves.

Ronda Coryell
@Ronda_Coryell


#18
Granulating in the kiln helps enormously to heat top and bottom
evenly. Just using a torch is possible but again requires more
skill and experience. 

I saw pictures from a friend who took a granulation workshop –
sorry I don’t remember the teacher’s name – but they did it with the
Ultra-lite Beehive Kiln and a torch at the same time.

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#19

Quick question…

Before you place your newly glued spheres with your silver into
the kiln, be sure to dry the glue out first. Parking them next to
the kiln opening works well. 

If I don’t have a kiln to do the warm up do you think a hot plate
with some type of cover would work for the warm up?

LisaF


#20

Lisa,

If I don't have a kiln to do the warm up do you think a hot plate
with some type of cover would work for the warm up? 

You can let them air dry just fine. The key here is DRY. If you want
to do granulation though, I would invest in a little trinket kiln.
It’s a very useful piece of equipment. I agree with Alton Brown,
kitchen gadgets with only one use is silly, by the trinket kiln is
nice for annealing and enameling small pieces of work.

-k
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