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Kiln annealing S Silver 32 gauge knitted chain


#1

Hi,

I am very new to this forum and need a bit of help with annealing my
project.

I am knitting 32 gauge sterling silver dead soft wire (not fine
silver wire because it kept breaking). After knitting, I pass it a
few times through a small hole drilled into a fiber glass plate to
stretch and stabilize the stitches.

At this point I would like to anneal the chain in my kiln, so that
it remains as soft and supple as possible, because the next part of
the work (threading beads with a small hole) compresses and stretches
the knitted chain a bit more (hardens it more).

To use the kiln, I thought about rolling the chain around a ceramic
kiln prop, perhaps with batwash on the prop and suspend the prop
horizontal on some metal bracket contraption, so the chain touches
only the prop, not the kiln shelf. I use batwash for glass work, so
the glass does not stick to the shelf, but don’t know if this is
necessary with sterling silver.

Questions are:

What temperature should I go up to?
Quickly up to that temperature (kiln at 100%), thus in a short
time, or in slow steps?
Cooling down in water, naturally in air, another way?

Will this create fire scale?

If yes, how do I clean it? The easiest method? I am set up for glass
work, but not for much metal work…pickling always sounds somewhat
intimidating, but perhaps it isn’t?

Hope these are not too many questions, and that someone can help me.

Many thanks, Carmel


#2

Carmel,

Of course we have an expert on this list in Michael David Sturlin,
when it comes to crocheted chains, but I will jump in here and offer
my opinion.

I recently had the privilege of learning Michael’s technique, and
have since made many chains using this technique. I believe it is the
best technique, and have read about and tried others that did not
produce as lovely a chain. With Michael’s technique, you will end up
with a slinky, smooth chain that is a joy to wear and touch.

I don’t know what technique you used to knit your chain, but the
order that we were taught to follow was to knit the chain, then
anneal it (with a torch, after fluxing), then straighten the chain
(because it usually twists into a spiral as you knit it), and then
draw through a metal drawplate.

So this is a little different than what you have done, and you might
want to consider it. It works extremely well.

Also, if you flux and anneal the metal with a torch, you will have
more control than annealing it in a kiln.

I make my chains from pure silver wire and gold. I have also made a
chain from gold filled wire.

Michael has posted instructions for his chain making technique on the
Ganoksin website, if you are interested.

I hope this is helpful.

Laura

Laura H. Hastings
Eclectica Jewelry
Tucson, Arizona
USA
http://www.rubylane.com/shops/eclectica


#3
I don't know what technique you used to knit your chain, but the
order that we were taught to follow was to knit the chain, then
anneal it (with a torch, after fluxing), then straighten the chain
(because it usually twists into a spiral as you knit it), and then
draw through a metal drawplate. 

I appreciate Laura’s kind words about my crochet technique. She is a
very kind and gentle person and was a wonderful student to work with.

I just want to clarify one issue, which is often misconstrued, which
pertains to preparing metal for heating with a torch. In the
finishing process for the crochet chain I don’t flux the chain prior
to annealing. I do coat it with an oxidation preventative (anti fire
scale) solution of boric acid powder dissolved in denatured alcohol.

I don’t use flux as a preventative measure to protect metal from
oxidation as a result of heating. I only use flux on metal when and
where I want solder to flow if I am joining two components by
soldering. In that case, in addition to the application of paste flux
on the intended solder seam, I also apply boric acid and denatured
alcohol solution to coat the entirety of the item prior to heating. I
allow the alcohol to dry momentarily prior to igniting with it the
torch. As the alcohol is allowed to burn off and the flame dissapates
one can see the powdery coating of boric acid forming and protecting
the surface from oxidation.

Other metalsmiths may have alternative approaches and procedures
which are well suited to their purposes and are particularly
apropriate for their applications in this regard. There is a lot of
in the Orchid archives about the use of flux and the use
of boric acid/alcohol solution.

Michael David Sturlin
www.goldcrochet.com
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com