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Making a brass crown


#1

I am considering taking a job that is outside of what I usually do.
The customer has an old statue of Jesus that they want to give to
their church but he is missing his filigree like crown. At first I
said that I don’t work with brass, but they are super nice people and
it might be an interesting project. I have never made anything with
brass, only precious metals. I’m imagining that I would use silver
solder to assemble the whole thing and then have it plated to cover
up the solder? I can’t think of a yellow solder I could use other
than gold to avoid having it plated. I’m not even sure that brass is
the best choice, it’s just what the customer suggested. So if anyone
has experience making a larger brass object that requires assembling,
I would appreciate any suggestions you may have.

Thank you,
Mark


#2

Rio grande has yellow silver solder findings book pg 51 or maybe you
might want to think about making it out of nickel alloy aka German
silver its going for 18lb and would give the look of a silver crown.
Bur there is also some wire solder high copper same book pg57 $27.lb

Hope this helps
jen


#3

Mark- I’m betting that they suggested brass to save money. If I were
you, I’d do it in silver and gold plate it. They won’t save all that
much money by going with brass over silver as your labor costs will
be the main expense. You’ll be working with a metal that is more
comfortable and familiar to you. Plus you’ll have to copper or silver
plate brass before you gold plate it. You can tell them that Jesus
deserves a real precious metal, not just brass. Both Tim and I have
done liturgical work. We love doing it. They are always so grateful
and gracious. There is nothing in this world like seeing something
that you’ve made with your hands get consecrated by a priest. Tim did
a Bishop’s ring a few months ago. The Bishop blessed his hands. Later
I asked him to touch my falling derriere with is magic hands. No
luck. Sigh. I guess The Big Guy has more important stuff to do.

Good luck and have fun with this project. I’m jealous.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#4

Hi Mark,

Rio carries some yellow sterling solder, just BTW.

Jennie


#5

Hi Mark, I have actually made a number of larger coronets due to
commissions from a historical group. I find that bronze (merlins
gold, red brass) is much easier to work with than brass. It handles
a little more like silver. I get it from Indian Jewelry Supply or
Rio Grande. I also use a low carat gold solder like 9 or 10 kt and
it does a pretty good job of matching and won’t discolor over time
like silver solder will. I think Brass is nasty to work with, much
harder to saw and shape.

Here’s the url to one of the bronze and nickel-silver coronet
commissions I had:

Sorry it’s a little blurry, I forgot to take pictures before I went
to deliver it, so had take a quick picture on my phone. If you have
any other questions please feel free to contact me off line.

Ellen Starr
Starr Design


#6
So if anyone has experience making a larger brass object that
requires assembling, I would appreciate any suggestions you may
have. 

Chances are that we are talking about bronze. and the traditional
approach is to use copper. In bronze casting copper is always used to
fabricate small parts which to small to cast in bronze foundries.
Their equipment is not suitable for small scale. Patination takes
care of color difference. I have been involved in reproduction of
works of Lancerey, and we always use copper for small parts. One
thing to keep in mind. Even if you do the whole work yourself, find a
professional to apply patina.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#7

I’ve used Johnson Matthey “Mattibraze 34” to solder brass; it gives
a very good colour match, much better than normal silver solder. MP
is 610-670C (1130-1238F) and it contains Cd.

Regards, Gary Wooding


#8
I have never made anything with brass, only precious metals. I'm
imagining that I would use silver solder to assemble the whole
thing and then have it plated to cover up the solder? I can't think
of a yellow solder I could use other than gold to avoid having it
plated.

Mark, if you decide to go with brass, I’d recommend trying red brass
and using tiny pieces of hammered-and-cut-up brazing rod as solder.
The disadvantage of this is that the melting point of the brazing rod
is close to that of red brass. The advantage is that it is still the
best color match for the brass.

To keep corrosion at bay afterward, I’d patina the crown and/or wax
it.

Using gold solder will work, but then your soldered areas will
always look bright and shiny and the brass will not stay that way…

All the best,
Judy Bjorkman


#9

Hi Mark

Some years ago I had a similar job to do. I made a crown of thorns
for a large Jesus statue. I used copper wires to make the crown, all
soldered with silver solders. Then when finished I had the whole
crown copper plated and coloured to appear like a dark bronze. The
finished crown was great and well appreciated by the customer,
especially as it was a no charge job.

James Miller FIPG, a goldsmith in the UK


#10

Wow! I am surprised and grateful for the great responses with
helpful crown making suggestions both on and off list! Who would have
ever guessed that there is such a thriving crown making niche market.
The sweet little old lady confused the jeweler who asked me to do the
job. It is actually a 5 foot marble statue of Mary, that she had made
in Italy, that needs a crown. The crown will only be worn on special
occasions and she wants it to rest on her head without a device to
attach it (apparently the Jesus sculpture had a hole drilled in his
head to secure his crown and our little old lady was appropriately
horrified).

Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I like the tips to use
bronze and low karat gold solder. Ellen, I thought your crown was
beautiful, the pearls were a really nice touch. It looks hinged, is
that to make it more wearable? I also liked the appealing
suggestions of making it in nickel silver or sterling silver. Thanks
Jo, you were right to say that the labor will be the main expense and
so maybe I could justify making it in silver…that would be easier
(incidentally, I’m so sorry the bashful Bishop thought better of
blessing your bum). And it’s funny that you mention making a crown
of thorns James, it turns out that another jeweler has had this job
for several months (has done nothing) and wanted to make Mary a crown
of thorns. Again our little old lady was horrified, found that
completely inappropriate and took her work elsewhere.

Thanks to all,
Mark


#11

Hi Mark, There is a very small niche market for crowns (weddings,
historical groups, renaissance fairs, liturgical), and I think a few
of us are on this list. (I’m also a fan of Ellen’s work.)

If the customer insists on brass, I would agree that red brass with
a low 9K gold solder is the way to go.

Another suggestion would be using cold connections such as tiny pin
or tube rivets. If the crown will only be worn on the statue during
special occasions, I’d also suggest giving the entire piece a really
good coating with Renaissance Wax to protect the finish. And, store
it in anti-tarnish fabric along with some 3M anti-tarnish strips,
and pack it all inside an airtight container. I know it sounds like
overkill, but it’ll keep the bronze in better maintenance over the
long-run.

Hope this helps.

Lyn Punkari
http://www.darkridgejewels.com


#12

I made a crown for a mardi gras Krewe 12 years ago, in New Orleans
humidity affects everything…Marine varnish available at any x-mart
or paint store will protect metals for decades…the crown was
borrowed last year for the MOM’s ball ( an “underground krewe” of
ex-hippie types) It was still gleaming, polished & golden…rer


#13

RER:

Marine varnish available at any x-mart or paint store will protect
metals for decades.. 

I had forgotten about the attributes of Marine Varnish - it’s one
tough finish The question I have is: Will it work for an article
(such as a bracelet) that gets lots of abrasion from constant skin
contact while wearing or should it be reserved for those articles
that are not exposed to abrasion of any kind…like earrings, or
perhaps a pendant? I know it withstands incredible abuse on boats.

Thanks.
Kay


#14
Rio grande has yellow silver solder findings book pg 51 

I’ve used the Rio Grande yellow silver solder on rich low brass and
bronze, and it makes a pretty decent color match. It’s not the
greatest solder to work with, but it does avoid that distinct silver
line.

Amanda Fisher
http://www.afmetalsmith.com


#15

I imagine it will work well, that is better than the - what are
essentially nail polish clear coats that chip off eventually and are
sold by a number of vendors…I have had marine varnish on some
patinated pieces from the 70’s and they still look good ( sitting in
the I’ll never sell it again box)…I would imagine once cured/drid
it is inert enough to be hypoallergenic…

rer


#16

I’ve used Johnson Matthey “Mattibraze 34” to solder brass; it gives a
very good colour match, much better than normal silver solder. MP is
610-670C (1130-1238F) and it contains Cd.

Regards, Gary Wooding