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Fusing sterling


#1

Re: my recent post on enameling. I have been playing with fusing
sterling and having some success. Started with 18 gauge wire and went
to thin fine bezel… you just have to “kiss” it with the flame.
Using a small, hot flame - meco midget with propane and oxygen.
Small tip. Oxidizing flame. Lots of flux… am using FireScoff. Will
try Prips later. Bezel is thin. … and touch and go. Maybe something
thicker formed over a stake.

Not sure I will be able to put a bezel down on flat stock… flame
control I figure. We will see… probably needs to be some thicker
than “bezel wire”… which is 30ga or so fine.

I am intrigued… can I make a piece all the way fusing with
sterling? Maybe a simple design. May need to switch to .999… seems
at these temps the firescoff is not doing its job.

It all happens so FAST at high temps!
Sorry… sideline to enameling :slight_smile:


#2

Hello Brent,

It is totally possible to make a piece using fusing instead of
solder. You just have to be prepared for a free-flow experience, you
cannot expect perfect, straight edge results like you can get using
hard solders. Basically hard soldering is fusing using metal alloys
with lower melting temperatures then the metals being joined.

I find that using Sterling bases with Argentium makes fusing fun and
predictable rather then something you have to hold your breath while
doing as is the case when working with sterling and thin gauge fine
silver. I find the transition from fusing to flowing too drastic!!!

With Argentium there is a slight reduction in conductivity and this
really shows up when fusing, you get a nice amount of lead time
between fusion and shows up when fusing, you get a nice amount of
lead time between fusion and a lump of molten metal.

I made this pair of earrings fusing sterling to Argentium

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/15s

I used sterling silver domes and sterling disks to enclose the
backs. I then used Argentium wire for the swirls and links.

I used only flux to join the parts on this pair of earrings.

Check out Oppi Untracht’s book Jewelry: Concepts and Technology

In this book there is an example of a project that is fused.

Also check out this Ganoksin link: It is an excerpt on Fusing by
Brynmorgen Press

Check out my blog, Bench of an Apprentice, and let me know what you
think http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/12b

I am doing a post series on washer forming

Good luck, fusing is a lot of fun
Kenneth


#3

Most pro enamelists use .999 if not using high karat golds. So yes -
you can fuse with with fine silver bezel strip- it comes in various
widths and also as square wire which may be easier for you to learn
with- ordinarily they are stocked by vendors in 28g. or 30 g- you
should check and specify where you can choose without special order
prices. Another reason to choose a flat wire over bezel strip or
vice versa is the height your design dictates for the cloissons.

As for lots of flux… that shouldn’t be a rule you go by… enough
flux to protect the piece : if putting down a pattern you want enough
flux to hold the metal to metal and protect any exposed remaining
surfaces from firescale closed,with sheet under the pattern. If you
have too much flux glass on the soldered pattern before pickling the
enamelclean up is ore difficult when it is a closed design at the
joins.And it is essential to have ultra-clean surfaces before your
first complete coating of a product like Klyr-fire,isinglass, etc.
for your base coat of clear enamel / glass… Cloisonne’ is actually a
process more than a style : in the designing process you are making
cloissons, which, as you know, are “little containers” to hold the
packed in vitreous enamels/glass ( or a jeweler’s epoxy colourant
like ceramit, etc.). If the design is open, without a backing, then
it is plique’ a jouir - letting light shine through your cloissons

As for the kind of flux you can choose,. Cupronil by 4S labs works
far better than Firescoff in my opinion Whichever you choose build a
few layers by warming the metal before each layer and again, before
the final spraying of Cupronil or application of Pripp’s you make
yourself (boric acid and borax dissolved in denatured alcohol until
the alcohol stops dissolving the powders & at that point your
initital mixture will have texture of double cream (called heavy, not
whipping cream in the US) and you can store it in a non-metallic
container for later use)… Using tweezers you can dip each piece to
completely cover if you don’t want to spray a firecoat on. Coating
sterling is essential- fine silver less so, and gold almost not
necessary if the karat is above 18. and you never over torch a work
piece- hit-and-run soldering is a particularly good skill to develop
if you are going to incorporate enamelling into your repertoire as a
jewelry maker/metalsmith… Learning to choose the right mill product
for the design is I think, as important as the process of enamelling
without a kiln, which it sounds like you are doing…

One extremely important trick you should remember when doing plique
a jour designs is to keep a piece of platinum sheet dedicated to the
process as it ensures your enamels won’t stick to the work surface
when firing and will distribute the heat so that enamel lays down
easier when wet packing the vitreous materials, especially when
applying multiple layers to make different colours or saturations or
effects going into a given cloisson in a workpiece ( like adding 24kt
gold bits or cutting out appliques and placing between the layers of
colour to get different effects).For non-vitreous enamel-like
products (ceramit, colores, etc.) a sheet of teflon or silicone paper
will work reasonalbly well.

I recommend the website of Patsy croft to you wholehertedly.She is
an internationally known enamellist, and teacher and has a lot of
on her site as well s some good examples of professional
work in enamelled jewelery Marianne Hunter is another professional
jewelry enamellist whose site and work is worth the time you will
spend there- her construction is extremely well executed and equally
high end with patsy’s work but in very individual styles (as it
should be!)…If I can answer anything else feel free to contact me
off list… r.e.r