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Fusing Argentium


#1

I do a lot of fusing, in the form (primarily) of flat pieces on a
flat backing sheet. I bought a sheet of AS to try, looking forward
to the reported ease of fusing. So far, the results are far less
than encouraging! It is very difficult to get the flat bits to fuse,
though once they melt into little balls, they tend to fuse very
quickly!

So the question is-- all you folks fusing AS-- is anyone fusing flat
pieces, as opposed to granules? I’ve tried on compressed charcoal,
I’ve tried on firebrick… Not going satisfactorily at all.

Noel


#2

Noel,

A while back I was doing a series of rings in square and flat stock
and figured I’d try fusing, just for the heck of it. It took me a few
tries but once I got things dialed in it worked fine. I was using 18
and 20 gage (ASWG) flat stock, 1.5 and 2 mm square stock.

My observations were:

  • don’t use flux (others say “do”, take your pick).

  • watch your heat CLOSELY. I took to doing it in a half-dark room.

  • make sure the surfaces to be fused are VERY clean; my trick was to
    scape them gently immediately prior to the fusing.

I hope some of that helps.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit TouchMetal.com at http://www.touchmetal.com


#3

Noel, in welding steel you would need to use filler rod on the edges
of any flat on flat weld so that a fillet would be visable from the
top. I wouldn’t think that fusing ( welding) would be any different
with any other type of metal. The interior contacting edges of such
a weld would not heat up to fusing temperature before the exposed
back and top of the element being fused to the back would melt. It
sounds like your trying to fuse an overlay which,in my experience,
would never work. Soldering an overlay works because the solder melts
at a lower temp than the base metals. Mokame works, as well as forge
welding in steel, due to heat and pressure rather than just heat.

Maybe I’m missing what you are trying to do.

Sam Patania, Tucson
www.bahti.com


#4

Noel,

During Ronda Coryell’s class at Rio’s Catalog in Motion, one of the
phases of fusing, was to place scraps onto a flat backing and fuse,
creating a design. This did work rather well for me.

I wonder if the flat piece being fused, is close in size to the
backing piece, and whether that makes the difference.

Terrie


#5
It sounds like your trying to fuse an overlay which,in my
experience, would never work. 

Well, Sam, maybe this is one of those “it may work in practice but
it’ll never work in theory” things. I do this on an ongoing basis
with normal sterling. I lay out various flat pieces on a flat
background and fuse them-- only a torch, no solder, no flux. This
creates patterned raw material that is essentially one solid piece.
It isn’t easy, and some days the fusing goddess smiles on me, others
not so much.

So far, she doesn’t like AS at all.

Noel


#6

Hi Noel,

I fuse flat sheet to flat sheet in Argentium Silver without a
problem. I suspect that the reason you are having trouble is that AS
is not as conductive of heat as SS, so the application of heat is
different. Your technique that works well for SS may not transfer
directly to AS. Do you work in gold? If so, it can be helpful to heat
AS similarly to gold.

I find it easiest to do in thin gauges, on solderite boards. I am a
believer in use of liquid flux, and making sure the metal is freshly
cleaned.

Hang in there. You are a very bright and competent
metalsmith—you’ll get it!

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#7

Try fusing on a screen. You do not mention how large the flat sheet
is. Are you using flux?

Ronda Coryell


#8

thanks Noel, for that trial it is interesting. I have just started
to use AS and I like it for what I am using it for, but I like to
layer also and fuse. I guess we will stay with what we know the best
for now and stick with SS.

Jennifer


#9

Hello-New to this list, first post, so apologies in advance for any
dumb questions. Have been working with Metal Clay for 2 years and am
now wanting to ad some traditional metal work to my work. In regard
to fusing the Agentium Silver–or SS for that matter, I seem to be
reading about flat to flat pieces. Can something shaped or formed be
fused? Say the ends of a ring or bracelet?-or a fold formed piece to
a flat piece? Again, sorry if stupid ?, but just venturing into these
new waters. Thank you.

Debbie N.


#10
thanks Noel, for that trial it is interesting. I have just started
to use AS and I like it for what I am using it for, but I like to
layer also and fuse. I guess we will stay with what we know the
best for now and stick with SS. 

Yeah, I tried AS for fusing because I thought it would be easy. I
have some suggestions now to try, but there isn’t really much point
if it is harder than plain ol’ sterling. On the other hand, I bought
a big sheet of 28g AS, and I don’t have any other use for it, so I
may try a bit more.

It isn’t a total loss-- I confess I was partly sorry to hear it was
so easy to fuse AS, because I have put a lot of work into getting
good at this flat-to-flat fusing, and didn’t really want everybody
else to be able to do it with no trouble. No worries!

Noel


#11

Noel,

I’ve been a bit reluctant to get involved in the flat on flat fusing
with Argentium silver because I mostly fuse small granules and
wires. I have fused flat on flat but some worked and others on the
same piece popped off. If you want to use a spare piece of AS
silver, you should try fusing it to regular Sterling. A thin amount
of AS flows outward about 1mm past its edge but the AS cutout holds
its shape and fuses firmly. Have to watch what sterling solder is
used because the AS melts at a lower temp.

I do know that when fusing, at least one part must be sanded to
remove germanium oxide. This touches on the issue of use of flux
where you want to fuse. Once an item has been brought to fusing
temperature at least once, it must be sanded or nothing else will
fuse to it. For example, after fusing a jump ring onto a dome, I
sanded the dome but set it aside for several days. I believe a
germanium oxide formed on the surface during that time. I placed
granules on the dome but the surface would not flow and nothing
fused to anything - not the granules to the dome or to each other. I
pulled off the granules (with a fingernail), sanded the dome surface
and placed new granules. Everything fused as expected.

Also, when fusing the jump ring to the dome, a heat sink is needed.
However, once it is fused, it is no longer vulnerable and a heat
sink is not needed as long as it isn’t sanded (I wouldn’t try that
with regular Sterling). Multiple fusing of granules and wires can
take place without affecting the jump ring. When heating you can see
the surface either become liquid (and fuse) or just turn red but not
flow or melt. I have seen this limit on surface flow when trying
multiple fuses on the same piece. At some point the surface will no
longer flow and nothing new will fuse unless it is sanded. However,
once an item is fused (and not sanded) it is protected from melting
again even if you are fusing new items all around it.

Hope this adds to the discussion.

Nancy
www.psi-design.com


#12
reading about flat to flat pieces. Can something shaped or formed
be fusedi Say the ends of a ring or braceleti-or a fold formed
piece to 

I don’t quite follow you, but I’ll take a swing.

Yes you can fuse conventional metals together, or make one piece
melty around the edges just to look cool.

Oh, do you mean hammer the ends of a ring together til they meet and
then fuse themi Yes, but it is better to solder them. It is difficult
to learn to solder from a book, I suggest a class if at all possible.

Elaine

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


#13

My question concerns fusing or granulating on an Argentium domed
surface. My domes would always slump when heated during the fusing
process. I think I resolved the problem by placing a binding wire
nest under the dome. Maybe this is not so likely with thinner metal.
I was using a thickness of about 1mm, as I plan to do some flush
setting in the piece. Also, I was using a charcoal block, so will
make the switch to a solderite board for the next try. Any thoughts
on the slumping issuei Also, I wanted to granulate the dome with all
sizes of granules, from very large to very small. Should I be doing
this in multiple passes, starting with the largest granules firsti

Thanks to all who have been adding to this discussion. I am learning
so much by reading about your experiences.

Bonnie Cooper


#14

Noel,

Yeah, I tried AS for fusing because I thought it would be easy. I
have some suggestions now to try, but there isn't really much
point if it is harder than plain ol' sterling. On the other hand, I
bought a big sheet of 28g AS, and I don't have any other use for
it, so I may try a bit more.

I wonder what you are doing differently from me. When I started
working with AS, I has very little metalsmithing experience beyond
the basic fabrication course at Revere, and it fused beautifully for
me. I now use AS almost exclusively for both fusing and soldering,
and am using up my stock of sterling for wire wrapping and other cold
processes. I really like the look of fusing fine silver to AS too -
I had some fine silver that was incorrectly marked as AS, but I love
the look of fine silver fused to AS that I do it on purpose now.

A few people have mentioned flux, and whether or not they use it
with AS. In my experience, it is much easier to fuse AS to AS or
fine silver to AS with a tiny dab of batterns or Rio’s My-t-flux
where you want the metal to join.

I fuse on a solder pad or a ceramic kiln firebrick, and both seem to
work fine. My torch is a very basic plumber’s propane torch, because
I couldn’t afford a nice jewelry torch when I started working with
heat, but it works well enough that I haven’t needed to upgrade
(yet). I’m still doing pretty basic fusing and soldering though,
nothing with lots of complicated solder joints.

Leah


#15

Leah,

Could you be more specific about what you are fusing and the
technique you are usingi Are you fusing a piece of flat sheet
argentium to a piece of flat fine silver sheet — pieces you might
otherwise sweat solder or are you fusing granules and how exactly are
you going about the process which might be different from what others
are doingi Maybe tell us the gauges and sizes of the metal you are
using, etc.

Thanks,
Grace


#16

You can use granules (and wires) of any relatively small size and
fuse them all at the same time. I fused 3mm spheres down to 0.5mm
granules at the same time and all fused nicely. I use a drop of flux
in the glue mixture because if glue is used by itself it burns off
too quickly and granules will roll off the dome.

I think a 1mm (18-gauge) dome can be used for fusing granules but
steps need to be taken to prevent the dome from the overheating that
leads to slumping. You are correct to have placed the dome on a
binding wire nest, not so much to support the metal but as a heat
sink elevated above the soldering board to help the dome cool down.
26-gauge sheet metal works the best because the sheet metal cools
down fairly quickly on its own. 24-gauge sheet will slump unless
some “support” is included. I use a tight spiral of binding wire,
domed to conform to the inside of the AS dome and elevated slightly
above the soldering board. I don’t think the binding wire is
"supporting" a slumping dome. Rather, I think it is cooling the dome
before it has a chance to slump.

With fusing, you only want the top surface to flow before the
thicker sheet metal absorbs and retains too much heat. With thicker
metal, I only bring the surface to a liquid state one to two times
(one right after the other), then let it completely air cool before
bringing it back up again (if needed). A solderite board is better
than charcoal because it does not retain heat as much.

Hope this helps.
Nancy
www.psi-design.com


#17

Hi Debbie N.,

My apologies for being slow to respond. I have been working for
three years on writing a book about shell forming with Betty Helen
Longhi, and she was at my house for a week of intensive work
together, so I got behind on everything else.

In my experience with fusing Argentium Silver, you can fuse wire to
wire, sheet to sheet, wire to sheet, balls to sheet or wire…
Though I have successfully fused the ends together for a ring shank,
I prefer to solder, as the joint is not as smoothly flush when fused
in that situation. Regarding the idea of fusing a fold formed piece
to a flat piece, it is difficult to say without seeing the situation.
My general rule of thumb is to fuse at the beginning of a piece, but,
as the amount of time and material devoted to a piece grows, I tend
to start soldering, as the lower temperature is less risky to my
investment of time and materials.

Hope this helps!
Cynthia
www.cynthiaeid.com


#18

I mostly work with wire, actually - so I’m generally fusing wire to
wire, whether that’s to join a jump ring, or fusing two separate
pieces together.

I have fused small pieces of sheet and wire to flat sheet
backgrounds, but that’s mostly been experimental so far. It does work
though.

My process is to basically put the “base” piece of metal on my
soldering pad, then place whatever it is I’m fusing on top of it,
and apply a really, really small amount of flux right at the
connection point. Then I heat it, slowly if I want a precise join,
and quicker if I want the “melted” look. I can see a flash usually
when it’s fused, so that’s when I stop if I want it to look precise.

I have fused some granules too, but sometimes I melt them. I need
more practice with that.

I haven’t used solder more than a handful of times since I started
using Argentium - I just fuse, usually.

My favorite thing is making head pins. I dip the wire into flux,
wipe most of it off on the side of the bottle, and heat the end of
the wire until it balls up. Then I heat the rest of the wire just
enough to get rid of any discoloration, and it’s done - no clean up.
I used to buy head pins because I felt like the clean-up whem making
them with sterling made it not worth my time, but now I often make my
own with Argentium. I love being able to instantly have the gauge and
length I need.

Leah


#19

My thanks to Cynthis Eid and Elaine Luther for your answers to my
fusing question. As you both stated that soldering is a better
solution to closing a ring or bracelet form, what are your
recommedations for the best solders, fluxes, etc. to use. Thank you,
again and in advance.

Debbie N.


#20
fusing question. As you both stated that soldering is a better
solution to closing a ring or bracelet form, what are your

But of course I am saying that.

I use: Battern’s Flux, regular ol’ Sparex pickle (so old fashioned of
me) and Hard Medium and Easy Solder from your favorite supplier.

Other methods are fine, this is just what I use. I don’t like paste
flux because it bubbles up and also is harder to see what’s going
on.

Elaine

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