Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Make mokume gane without solder?


#1

Hi there, I’m still fussing around with some copper/Argentium mokume
gane that I bought from Rio and find with too much heat, it oozes
solder (I’m presuming it is solder). I find the patterns and the
potentials for this product to be nothing short of exhilarating, but
was wondering what my chance of success would be in making my own
mokume gane (copper and Argentium) without solder between the
layers? Many thanks as always,

Ros


#2

Sorry, no solder in the Rio Argentium Mokume-gane. You are over
heating the metals.

Bill


#3

It is not soldered, you are overheating it. Silver-copper mokume is
totally unforgiving of lack of temperature control and using
Argentium in the mix makes it melt at an even lower temperature than
standard sterling. The magic number is 1435F for standard sterling
and copper mokume. If you are very good and the gods are smiling you
can get away with some manufacturers hard silver solder but I never
use it, the risk is just too great. Medium or easy solder only.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#4
The magic number is 1435F for standard sterling and copper mokume.
If you are very good and the gods are smiling you can get away with
some manufacturers hard silver solder but I never use it, the risk
is just too great. Medium or easy solder only. 

Thanks James,

This is something I hadn’t even considered, my main issue was making
the mokume.

I think because I chose to use 90/10, and a fine silver laminate
(not soldered) for my first attempt, that using hard solder was not
such a problem.

I will keep it in mind if I use a sterling laminate.

Thanks again regards Charles


#5

Doesn’t matter that you used bronze and fine, the issue is lots of
copper and lots of silver diffused into each other make for an
instant eutectic if you exceed 1435. You get the same problem with
silver and red gold. You were lucky or good enough with your heat
control or both :-).

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#6
Doesn't matter that you used bronze and fine, the issue is lots of
copper and lots of silver diffused into each other make for an
instant eutectic if you exceed 1435. You get the same problem with
silver and red gold. You were lucky or good enough with your heat
control or both :-). 

Probably just dumb luck in my case, but it has encouraged me to make
more :slight_smile:

I was wondering about that because the metals have different
expansions rates, and if the laminates are thick enough, you would
assume that a billet would be subject to warping if heated.
Definitely needs more play time.

Regards Charles A.


#7

Hi Rosamond:: Hmmm, no solder is used to make the Argentium Mokume
from Rio. I know, because I make it.

However, if silver-copper mokume is over heated the copper and
silver form a low temperature melting alloy. The germanium addition
to the argentium sterling lowers the melting point a bit more.

The key is to not overheat when annealing or soldering. Heat only in
a dark room and use flux as and indicator. If the flux is liquid it
is at annealing temperature.

Glad you like the argentium mokume.

Best,
Phillip Baldwin,
Shining Wave Metals, Ltd.


#8

The same with sterling and german silver (silver and copper)…my
thermocouple was off one day… and…drip, drip drip.

Ric Furrer
doorcountyforgeworks.com


#9

Boy did I make a mess of that last post…

errata:

I did not mean that german silver has silver…only that the copper
in it formed sterling silver and melted out. Also…just to negate my
entire last post…I was using fine silver and not sterling…

No more typing after a long day.

Ric Furrer


#10

Thanks James - this is exactly it.Now here’s a stupid question from a
newbie re. heating: I’m using an acetelyene/air torch. With the
copper/Argentium mokume gane, I went down to a #0 tip and was using
easy Argentium solder, but it was a multi-step piece (a ring where I
soldered a strip of mokume gane to an Argentium band, then solder
that band to a back plate, etc). I tried to keep the flame off the
mokume gane, but found heating the piece to join the ring shank to
the back plate to be a bit tricky. Can I use something on the mokume
gane to protect it a bit from the heat? I almost felt like the
smaller tip was too targeted in its heat.On the bright side, I made
my first set of wedding bands with copper/Argentium mokume gane and
had a lot more luck with the mokume gane strip. I was very careful
and heated from the inside of the ring, which left that yummy pattern
intact


#11

Thanks Phillip - am honoured and appreciative that you took the time
to read and answer my post!I’m using My-T yellow liquid flux - do
you recommend something else? And I’ve been heating away in a nice,
bright room - guess that I need to learn a different way of 'seeing’
the piece. I was just on Rio’s site and the unpatterned sheet also
caught my attention (though that handsome wood grain pattern would
be pretty hard to beat) - if I order the 1/4" thick sheet, I’m
assuming that I can try making different patterns in that mokume gane
and still have enough thickness for ring shanks etc, after rolling
it?Final question: before understanding the complexities of this
cool material, I rolled some out to make a bezel. Not surprisingly (I
have very little torch control - I can admit it), I made a mess of
it. The biggest problem was trying to close the bezel (so thin, hard
to bind) and then to press it down well to the back plate (Argentium
only for that portion) - do you have any tips to share? I’d love to
try again!

Many thanks!
Ros


#12

I dont use argentium solder so cannot give you any advise there, but
I would use standard silver solders in easy and extra easy to learn
with. You should not use copper mokume for rings, especially wedding
rings. In daily wear the copper will etch away in fairly short order
due to galvanic corrosion.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#13
The biggest problem was trying to close the bezel (so thin, hard
to bind) and then to press it down well to the back plate 

Pretty much anyone more experienced will tell you-- the way to do
such a job (mokume aside) is to fit the pieces together to binding is
not called for. Any bezel should sit flush on its backplate with no
gaps, using only gravity.

i’d like to suggest that it might be sensible to put off the mokume
until you have the fit issue nailed. Mokume complicates things quite
a bit! Or maybe applique some mokume as last step, using easy solder.

If you start with 1/4" unpatterned stock, no, you will not have
enough thickness left after patterning for a ring shank, unless you
want paper-thin rings. Also, worn as a ring, the copper in
copper/silver mokume will gradually etch away until you only have
silver (albeit wood-grained silver). Small raised “islands” may even
fall off. Just yesterday James was showing me a client’s old old ring
that had no visible copper (or actually, shaku do) left.

Noel


#14
Oh no! No copper/silver mokume for rings? Or no UNLINED
copper/silver mokume for rings? I've possibly made quite the
mistaken then :( The three rings that I made all had an extra liner
of 22 ga Argentium and two of them had Argentium rails on the
edges. I wonder if the rails will will keep neighbouring fingers
away/off the mokume enough? 

Noel - any tips to share on closing thinner mokume gane, like in a
bezel? That was the hardest part, I found (and in hindsight, I
shouldn’t have tried to solder it onto a deeply textured backplate)
Thanks Phillip for the additional info - I tend to use Argentium for
bezels, I like its rigidity. Of course, I’m also very good at
breaking stones, which speaks more to my newness (and poor
technique), I think, than to the bezel choice. I’ll look up that info
sheet right now! I’m so sad in thinking that I’ve made a mistake in
those rings, but appreciative, as always, for being told :slight_smile:

Cheers
Ros


#15

Disappointing mokume

Here we go again. How many times must the message go out? Do not use
copper or high copper content alloys in rings! This morning I
received a call from a recently married couple concerning their
Mokume wedding rings. Ordered on line, fabricated sterling with
inlaid sterling, shibuichi, copper Mokume. Looked beautiful in the
pictures, the same when they came out of the box but lo three days
latter the patina was all gone. The maker had instructed the couple
that the patina would change and follow it’s natural course. The
instruction apparently included a list of activities when the rings
should be removed. She said they might also purchase Baldwin’s
Patina to redo the patination. I had to explain the chemical and
galvanic etching that was going on. I had to tell them that no
matter what they did the rings, if worn, would never look like the
picture. They may well have to redo the patina every few days or
sooner. I had to explain that eventually the high copper content
layers would be etched away. Yes, etched away! With a microscope I
have looked under the remaining silver layers at a hidden copper
layer that looks just like a nitric acid etch. The copper is all but
gone! This will happen. It can not be stopped. It can not be
ignored. So, one more time. use only precious metals and precious
metal alloys in rings! Especially wedding (last forever) sets.* Bill
Of course, you can add the reactive metals titanium and niobium to
that precious metal list.

Bill, Deborah, Michele & Sharon
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc


#16
The three rings that I made all had an extra liner of 22 ga
Argentium and two of them had Argentium rails on the edges. I
wonder if the rails will will keep neighbouring fingers away/off
the mokume enough?

A liner does no good at all. The issue is you have two metals, water
(hand washing, sweat etc), electrolytes (salt from the skin , and
just stuff from the environment). You put these three together and
you have a galvanic couple aka a battery, the less noble metal will
dissolve in this situation. The copper in silver/copper mokume will
dissolve slower than gold /copper but it will still happen. Look up
galvanic corrosion on the web for more details.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#17
The maker had instructed the couple that the patina would change
and follow it's natural course. The instruction apparently included
a list of activities when the rings should be removed. 

Would anybody buy a car with list of activities where car cannot be
used, even if other models handle the same conditions without any
problems? I do not think so. There are reasons why jewellery has
been made from precious alloys for thousands of years. It is amazing
that regardless the long history of jewellery making, these reasons
are still escaping some makers.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#18
There are reasons why jewellery has been made from precious alloys
for thousands of years. It is amazing that regardless the long
history of jewellery making, these reasons are still escaping some
makers 

Duh, Leonid, if you take a look at the history of various metals,
copper and bronze seem to hold the record for age dating back into
5000 to 4500 BC when various funerary and other decorative objects
were created. Gold is a fairly newcomer dating only back to around
3000BC. Back in those early time, copper and bronze WERE the
precious metals/alloys.

Cheers from Don in SOFL.


#19

Thanks so much for taking the time, James, to help me understand! I
was watching Holmes Inspection last night (a tv show with a Cndn
super duperhandyman) and he was explaining about the improper piping
in the house. He said that the copper pipes must absolutely not touch
any other metal as the pipe would corrode over time. In this case,
there was a natural gas source nearby etc. All this to say that I
understand much better, thanks to your explanation.

Cheers
Ros


#20
I dont use argentium solder so cannot give you any advise there,
but I would use standard silver solders in easy and extra easy to
learn with. You should not use copper mokume for rings, especially
wedding rings. In daily wear the copper will etch away in fairly
short order due to galvanic corrosion. 

When you refer to “fairly short order” can you be a bit more
specific? Assuming a ring worn daily in all conditions,made from a
copper / shibuichi / sterling mokume, with fine silver between it and
the wearer’s skin. Are we talking months, years, or decades? for a
pronounced change? Of course, I realize that conditionjs, skin
chemistry, etc, all play a role. I’m just curious about a ball[park
number.

I may start selling a cynical lovers line. The weaker metal just
fades away over time. Ah true love, with realism.