Hi Jerry and Noel,
I’ll try and answer both questions in the same reply.
I don't understand why you say anything less pure than ,9999 is
not suitable for wire making.
It all depends on what you are going to use the wire for. I make 22
kt wire. I use it for making chains by Jean Stark’s method where I
create the wire, make the jump rings, fuse them and then weave them
into chains. Anything less than 4 nines gold will break during the
weaving step. I demonstrated this during one of her classes in Hilton
Head (not on purpose… …but as a result of not listening to
the teacher and using 3 nines gold.) When I start with 4 nines gold,
I know exactly what is in the final product, pure silver, pure
copper, and pure gold. With anything else, there are foreign
substances I cannot control. Sorry if I was misleading.
you go through some unnecessary steps
First, I melt the coin to determine if it is pure. When it cools,
if the surface is not bright-shiny-polished, but has a glaze over it,
or a crystaline surface, it is not pure. I save it for casting later
on. If it does not have the ‘hole’ when it cools, it is not pure. I
don’t really know what this means and would love to know the cause,
but Jean showed it to me, and I have seen it every single time the
gold cools with pure gold, and never with 3 nines gold. Any
metalsmiths out there with a solution?
Second, I do what you do. I alloy it and pour it into water if I dont
need a whole ounce of wire, or pour it into the trench if I need the
whole ounce. I use the charcoal block and a bamboo chopstick( or
dowel )to stir when alloying in lieu of flux. The charcoal removes
the oxygen from the process.
I wrap the charcoal block with binding wire, several times, around
the edge to keep it from splitting during use. After I melt or
alloy, I spray the charcoal block with a sprayer filled with water to
stop the heat. This seems to prolong the life of the block. I use
about 3 or 4 charcoal blocks a year.
One neat trick with the charcoal block, is if you are going to make
sheet instead of wire, after alloying and while the gold is in the
depression , press another charcosl block down on top of the gold.
Press down and flatten the mass of molten gold. It will take the
shape of the depression, square and about 1/8 inch thick. Ready for
the rolling mill.
How long do you work for the $150? (That is, how much time does it
take to draw wire from an ounce of gold?)
This all depends on the guage of wire I am making. Smaller gauges
take longer times. I usually stop about 16 ga. I can always draw down
whatever I need for a job, chain, neckllace, etc from that.
I’ve never timed it, but its not that long. Sort of a side interest
while I’m doing other things.
Melt the coin (2 minutes) and let it cool while doing other
Cut and measure the silver and copper for the alloy for 1 ounce
of gold. (3-4 minutes).
Re-melt the coin and add the alloy ( 2 minutes ) , pour it in
Water ( 1 minute).
Put gold pebbles in the trench, heat and form into a long ingnot.
(2-3 minutes) Let cool while I’m doing something else.
From here on out, its running it through 9 or 10 grooves of the
mill, about 2 or 3 minutes per 2 grooves, then put it in the kiln to
File a point on the end and draw it through the first two holes
of the drawplate, about 5 minutes, then put it in the kiln for
Continue until you get the size you want.
I probably go down to 20 gauge in about an hour and a half from
start to finish. This is with using the annealing time to do
The actual process may take all day, or several days if I’m not in a
rush for the wire. When I have a free moment, like waiting for a
pickle, I do a step in the wire process.
Love and God Bless