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Gold PMC on Sterling Silver


#1

Hello all:

I am new to silversmithing and would sort of like to get around
working with ‘real’ gold and all the tecnicalities that come with
it. I would like to be able to fuse gold to sterling. Can gold PMC or
any of it’s varieties (e.g. PMC gold foil) be fused to sterling
silver…like Keum-Bo? Also, can it be soldered to sterling or is it
too soft?

Any will be appreciated, and please assume that I know
practically nothing about any of this. (Also, I only use a butane
torch at home due to insurance reasons).

Thanks,
Lucille aka Beadwyfe


#2

Hi, Lucille aka Beadwyfe,

As a silversmith who has, bit by bit, moved into working with gold,
let me say-- I think that, in trying to avoid confronting gold
head-on, you may be backing into a pain in the butt ;>).

I haven’t used gold PMC, but it is much more expensive than gold
sheet, so I don’t think it will help you. It might be possible to
kumboo it, but not easily onto sterling, and you are much better off
with 24k kum boo foil (Allcraft carries it).

You can fuse gold to sterling with a torch, but it is a fairly
difficult technique. If you want to begin to add gold to your
pieces, here’s my suggestion.

First, a Don’t: don’t start with 14k. It has such a low melting
point that you could ruin a lot of stuff mastering it (I did!) Now a
couple of Dos: You could try working with 18k. Yes, it is expensive,
but it is much more forgiving than 14k, and will show up much better
on silver than its paler cousin, 14k. If you melt less of it, it is
cheaper in the long run.

An easier way to get started (IMHO) is with sterling/22k bimetal.
Then, you are soldering sterling to sterling (using silver solder),
you get the strong gold color of 22k, there is no base metal
involved (as with gold filled), and you are buying the smallest
usable later of gold but still getting big impact visually.

You can buy bimetal from Reactive Metals and from Hauser and Miller.

HTH! --Noel


#3
Also, can it be soldered to sterling or is it too soft? 

PMC can be soldered to Sterling or other Fine Silver. There is a
trick to doing it though . . . you have to pull the heat away as
SOON as the solder flows.


#4

As it happens I’m starting to make something similar. I’m using fine
gold and fine silver together. Take a look http://www.adam.co.nz/new

24k granules is the cheapest way to buy gold. Then you can alloy up
your own 22k red (add copper wire offcuts) or 18k yellow (copper and
silver). I’m making a tool to drill a flat landing recessed into the
gold, it’s like a woodworking spade drill, but 5mm dia. I made one
years ago for a similar job. I suppose I’ll make the cutting angle
differently, smaller central pointy-bit.

Then I guess I’ll pop the 5mm cabochon stone in and gently bash the
24k to bezel it in. Hope it’ll work.

Brian
Brian Adam
Auckland NEW ZEALAND


#5
An easier way to get started (IMHO) is with sterling/22k bimetal.
Then, you are soldering sterling to sterling (using silver
solder), you get the strong gold color of 22k, there is no base
metal involved (as with gold filled), and you are buying the
smallest usable later of gold but still getting big impact
visually. 

Hi Noel,

When using silver solder with sterling/22k bimetal as you suggest,
are seams noticibly visible on the gold surface? Obviously I’m
thinking of butt joins as in a ring rather than sweat soldered
overlay on a silver base.

Thanks in advance for any advice,
Daniela Muhling


#6

Hello Brian,

If I understand you correctly, you will create a disc-shaped
impression in the 24k and " Then I guess I’ll pop the 5mm cabochon
stone in and gently bash the 24k to bezel it in. Hope it’ll work. "

That’s what I thought - 24k gold is so maleable it should be easy.
I studied Blaine Lewis’s video on flush-setting and carefully
followed the process. I could NOT make the 24k gold budge and form
that bezel lip. I ended up making beads to hold the stone in place.
Later, I asked Blaine about this and he told me that 24k will not
respond to pressure as does lower karet gold. Very interesting.

Perhaps Blaine will chime in here and provide the expert’s
explanation.

Judy in Kansas


#7

Hi Noel, and etc.

Thanks so much for the

Since then, I have been told that it is much easier to work with
gold than silver, something I’ve been contemplating especially with
the limitations on soldering in my apartment.

If I did use some sort of metal clay, it would probably be in small
amounts, as I would just like to add accents to some designs.

I never knew there was such an animal as bimetal. However, I did
Google it and it seems to be all over the place! Mmmm, I wonder if
Allcraft or Metalliferous (or any NYC store)has it…have to check.

Thanks again,
Lucille (aka Beadwyfe)
Beadwyfe at aol.com

PS What do the abbreviations IMHO & HTH mean?

IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
HTH = Hope it Helps


#8
When using silver solder with sterling/22k bimetal as you suggest,
are seams noticibly visible on the gold surface? Obviously I'm
thinking of butt joins as in a ring rather than sweat soldered
overlay on a silver base. 

In this case, I guess I would use gold solder to avoid the silver
seam.

–Noel


#9
 I have been told that it is much easier to work with gold than
silver 

Yeah, I was told that, too. I think it is misleading to simply say
that. I’m not super with gold yet, but I’m competent, and there are
some things that are easier (once you’re used to it) and some things
that are harder. For example, it’s harder to deal with mistakes,
since they’re so much more costly. I suppose if you use enough gold
to be sending material to a refiner anyway, maybe it is less
upsetting to make a mistake. But it is much more trouble to try to
keep all the tiny bits of metal that you drill, file, cut and buff
off.

Once you get used to it, it is nice to be able to spot-heat, which
you can’t with silver. But solder doesn’t flow nearly as easily, and
that’s harder.

I could go on, but the point is, whatever you are used to is easiest
for you. If those from the “gold is easier” camp want to weigh in
here and disabuse me, I’d like to see the comments-- I may well be
missing something. But I feel that my experience as a silversmith*
in the process of becoming a goldsmith* might be useful to others
like me.

  *using these terms to mean "one who works with...", not the
  classical definitions in which a silversmith makes holloware
  and a goldsmith makes jewelry. Apologies to purists! 

–Noel


#10
   I have been told that it is much easier to work with gold than

silver

   Yeah, I was told that, too. I think it is misleading to simply
say that. 

I would go a step further and say that it is misleading to speak of
"gold" as a generic entity in terms of workability, given that there
are so many gold alloys with distinct working properties. They can
vary both in heat conductivity, which affects soldering, and in
malleability, which affects other working properties.

I have done most of my limited gold work in 18K red. Workability?
Well, it solders more like silver because of high heat
conductivity; when it comes to rolling ingots into sheets it can be
a real booger, though, as it hardens quickly and is extremely prone
to cracking.

I haven’t done much soldering with 18K green (75% gold, 25% silver,)
OTOH, but I can testify that in terms of rolling, drawing, forging,
etc, it is highly malleable and a dream to work with. Not really
green, either, more like a pale yellow with a very slight greenish
cast.

I suspect that when people extoll the workability of gold as opposed
to silver, they are largely referring to 14K yellow.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry
http://www.dosmanosjewelry.com


#11

Hi Noel,

I could go on, but the point is, whatever you are used to is
easiest for you. If those from the "gold is easier" camp want to
weigh in here and disabuse me, I'd like to see the comments-- I may
well be missing something. 

As someone who primarily works with gold, I think you’re right on.
I started with silver; in fact, at one time, I found gold (and
diamonds :wink: totally unappealing. When I first started working with
gold, I hated it. Every time I blinked an eye (almost literally), I
melted something. I was just not used to how poorly it conducted
heat in comparison to silver.

Eventually, with a lot of practice, I learned to work efficiently
with gold (most of the time!). Now I love it. The ability to spot
solder compensates for any silver-soldering characteristic you might
name, in my opinion. On the rare occasions I work with silver now, I
always have to make a mental adjustment, but I’ve found that my
experience working with gold has made me a better silver worker as
well.

A few tips for soldering gold:

  1. Keep the flame moving: If you hold it in one place even a
    second too long, you WILL melt something.

  2. A codicil to the above: Do not let yourself get distracted with
    a lit torch in your hand!

  3. Consider using higher karat gold for the most delicate parts,
    like wire. I usually use 22K bezel wire and 18K round, etc., wire on
    a 14K backing. The higher karat golds have a higher melting point.

  4. Use lots of heat sinks: I keep broken bur shafts, washers,
    nails, bolts, you-name-it, to butt up against or lay over delicate
    parts that are vulnerable during soldering processes. I far prefer
    using heat sinks to yellow ochre or any other stop-flow preparation.

  5. Remember that gold doesn’t lose its value because you’ve melted
    it! Your time lost, of course, is another story ;-).

HTH, Beth


#12
The ability to spot solder compensates for any silver-soldering
characteristic A few tips for soldering gold: 1)  Keep the flame
moving:  If you hold it in one place even a second too long, you
WILL melt something. 

Can you explain what you mean by “spot soldering” while keeping the
flame moving all the time?

Thanks.
Alana Clearlake, “gold melter”


#13

Hi Alana,

    Can you explain what you mean by "spot soldering" while
keeping the flame moving all the time? 

Sure (at least I’ll try, though it’s a lot easier to demonstrate
:-). First, by “spot soldering” I mean the ability to flow solder in
a particular spot without having to heat the entire piece of jewelry.

Silver conducts heat so well that you must get the entire piece hot
or the spot where you’re trying to solder will never get hot enough.
The reverse is true for gold. You can focus on just the spot you’re
trying to solder.

When I say “focus,” however, I don’t mean that you should hold the
flame motionless in one spot: That’s how you melt gold. Most
goldsmiths fan or circle the flame and that’s what’s hard to describe
in words. When you “fan” the flame, you first focus on the "spot"
and then move the flame quickly away and back into focus again. You
spend more time with the flame in focus than away, so that the spot
becomes increasingly hotter until the solder flows. It’s the “away
time” that keeps the metal you’re soldering from getting hot enough
to melt.

When you “circle” the flame, you move the flame around the spot
being soldered. Since the spot is always in the middle, it will
continue to get hotter while the surrounding area cools off slightly
every time the flame cycles.

Be especially careful when soldering bezel or other wire – but I
probably don’t need to tell you that! I never focus the flame
directly on the wire, but on the backing metal as close to the wire
as I can get without touching it. In the case of a small bezel, I
move the flame around and around it. If it’s a large bezel, I start
by moving the flame around and around the outer edge; as the backing
metal heats, I eventually move the flame up over the bezel wire and
into the center area. If I’ve gotten the sheet just hot enough, the
solder will flow as soon as I move into the center area.

That’s about the best I can do in words. I hope it helps!

Beth