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Fusing jump rings

Hello All,

All this talk of fusing jump rings in Fine Silver has got me in the
mood to do a couple of cuff bracelets in sterling. So far with not
so successful results. I had done this technique in my college
jewelry fabrication class, but have forgotten a few tricks I guess.

I am using 18ga Sterling sheet 3/4"w and 6" in length for the base
of the bracelet and I am then lying 5 mm to 10 mm squares of 18ga
Sterling on top of the base piece, and I am fluxing all surfaces
with a paste flux. I have laid the bracelet out on a fire brick,
which seemed to work as a giant heat sink and then on a mesh screen,
which has worked the best so far. I believe we had used a charcoal
block in class, however I do not have one long enough on hand and
was thinking of using a soft ceramic block, so the piece lies
flatter then it does on the mesh screen for less of a chance of it
distorting to the shape of the screen when heated, since the screen
may have a bow or two in it.

My first attempt seemed to go well until I started filling and
polishing the bracelet and noticed that there was a lot of pitting
in my applied squares. I stack the squares 2 to 3 high and then file
them down to give it a heavy nugget or organic look. And only apply
one layer of squares at a time during fusing. So, I fuse one layer
of squares then pickle clean flux apply a second layer of squares
and repeat the said process until I achieve the desired height of
squares for carving. I also make sure I bring the entire piece up to
the same temperature at the same time.

My second attempt seemed to go a lot smoother, again until filing
and polishing when I noticed that some seams where still visible
between layers meaning that the pieces where not completely fused. I
did not bring the piece up as high in temperature believing that I
overheated the first piece, which might have caused the pitting.
Anyway in my aggravation at this point I tried to re-fuse the piece,
accept I forgot to apply a flux or fire protection to the piece and
got a bad torch texture on the entire piece, which is now scrap.

My question then is, do you heat the piece until you see the silver
change to the glassy state and then remove the flame? I can see as
the silver comes up to this temperature and the whole piece is
coming up to this state at the same time. Or is this already to hot
for the piece, which caused the pitting of the first bracelet. Also,
what is the best surface to attempt this process on; a charcoal
block, a mesh screen, ceramic block or fire brick?

I know it is torch and heat control, but if someone can tell me at
what state during the heating process the silver actually becomes
fused? Does it have to reach this glassy flowing state? It would
greatly help me in my efforts.

Thank You in advance for any tips,