Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Making Metal Balls at the End


#1

Hello Orchid Members:

I am hoping you can help with this technique. I have seen a couple
other people post about it, but have not seen any resolution to the
question. On March 31, 2003, Leah Gormly described it well when she
posted the following, “It looks like one ball/granule is made on one
side of the wire (to a point), a bead is added to the wire, and
another ball/granule is made on the other side of the wire, so the
bead can’t fall off it creates a sort of “dumbell” look. I’m trying
to figure out the easiest way to keep the bead cool while creating a
ball/granule on the other side of the wire.”

I have seen several designers use this technique of sandwiching a
gemstone, pearl, or even natural substance such as wood, between two
metal balls. I understand that one ball is made first with a torch,
then the pearl, gemstone, etc. is strung on the wire, but then how is
the other ball made without burning up the gem, pearl, etc.? My
understanding is that the wire is made of sterling silver, but is it
really? Or is it made of a metal that melts at a lower temperature?

I am totally stumped and would be eternally grateful to any and
everyone who would enlighten me on how to do this. I have pictures
that I can show if my description does not make sense.

All my best,

Wendy Hacker
Wendyhacker.com
Venice, CA


#2
 then the pearl, gemstone, etc. is strung on the wire, but then
how is the other ball made without burning up the gem, pearl,
etc.? My understanding is that the wire is made of sterling
silver, but is it really? Or is it made of a metal that melts at a
lower temperature?

Some pearls and beads are assembled, putting one piece of wire with
a ball on one end and glueing it, then glueing the other piece of
wire with a ball on it into the other side of the bead or pearl.


#3

Hey Wendy,

I don’t know if you have tried using Argentium Ster. Silver yet. But
it has a lower melting temp and is much less conductive than regular
ster. silver. this is from the society of American silversmiths:

  The International Annealed Copper Scale (IACS) is a measure
  of conductivity in metals. On this scale the value of copper
  is 100%, pure silver is 106%, and standard sterling silver
  96%, while a sterling alloy containing 1.1% germanium has a
  conductivity of 56% 

and the lack of fire scale means you don’t need to clean it they way
you would have to clean regular ster.silver

I’m interested to hear what works for you though!

Beth


#4

How about starting with the wire just long enough to protrude from
both sides of the bead/object, then balling both ends, then
soldering more wire onto one of the balls?

Erskine Hewett


#5

Thank you to Beth, Erskine, Richard, Lora and Phyllis for your
replies to my post. It is nice to feel that we do indeed have a
Metalsmithing community among us. I say this because I tried asking
this question (during a workshop) to a prominent jeweler who uses
this technique. The answer would not be revealed!

I have not tried Argentium Sterling Silver. That is an interesting
idea. I am not certain that I can post pictures to this forum, but
have attached some as good examples of what I am talking about. I do
not think glue was used or extra solder used to attach balls to the
ends.

Please, please, please let me know what you all think. These are the
things that make me stay up at night. I am sure my cats will thank
you if I am able to turn the lights off!

Best,

Wendy Hacker
Wendyhacker.com
Venice, CA

Attchments removed


#6

We discussed this earlier in the year; it should be searchable in
the Orchid archives.

I did some earrings with Argentium Sterling wire and pearls, and it
worked very well.( I burned just a few until I got better at it.) I
balled one end, put a pearl on, inserted the wire through a chain,
put another pearl on the wire, and balled the other end. I used my
Little Torch with a #4 tip, and a very hot flame. I held the assembly
to the side of the flame, not above it. You can practice this with
gemstones first, since they are not as easy to burn. There’s nothing
mysterious or even very difficult about it. Just have a tiny torch
tip, and practice. I made clusters of pearls on the chain earrings,
in different colors and sizes. It was a fun Spring project for me.
Enjoy!

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com


#7

There’s not really much mystery to this, meaning that it’s not
magic. If the balls surround a pearl, then it cannot be soldered, so
it’s something else. It could be that there’s a hole drilled in the
bead, and it’s glued - if there’s a stretch of wire, then it could
be soldered. Most likely, though, it is threaded, and the ball
screws on. That’s how most of the “Dumbbell” looking things are
done…


#8

please let me know what you all think. These are the
things that make me stay up at night. I am sure my cats will thank
you if I am able to turn the lights off!

The picture didn’t come through :frowning:

The way my teacher did something similar, she said first she melted
a ball on one end of the wire, then put it through the bead. After
that she melted the other end to form another ball on the opposite
side. She used the small tip on a acetylene/air torch, and said you
had to have a delicate touch so as not to burn the bead (can’t
remember if she used pearls).

One alternative was to use easy silver solder wire, instead of
regular sterling. It melts at a much lower temperature and is still
close in color to sterling. I bet the Argentium sterling easy solder
wire would work well for this.

Oliver Juang
oj@soda.CSUA.Berkeley.EDU


#9

Hi Wendy,

There was a thread earlier this year on the same thing, with some
ideas to try, like shielding the stone with wet cardboard. Here it
the thread:

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/balls-at-the-ends

I’d love to hear the results of your experiments, too.

Laurie
www.laurieevinger.com


#10

Wendy,

the advice others have given about using a Smith Little torch with a
fine tip and a hot flame is good. You can also use a heat shielding
product like KoolJewel (TM?) diluted with a little water to make a
paste and applied with a syringe and cut off needle to protect the
stone, and liquid flux to ease the formation of the ball. It is good
if one side of the dumbell that runs through the chain or hole
terminates on a metal surface, that way you form the headpin, run
the pre-balled side against the stone, and then fuse the other end
tight up against the metal surface, which is a bit more forginving
of the high temperature. The downside is that even with a light
touch and some experience, it can be difficult or impossible to work
in a very tight design or with very fragile stones, since with the
torch you are directing a relatively bulky stream of plasma in the
general direction of the wire (and stone), and there is a bit of
labor intensive set up.

I think there may be promise in using some variety of capacitve
discharge electrical welding set up. I’ve spoken over the phone with
the distributors for the ABI welders and they have a model which
they claim will accomplish what you want, can’t remember which one
but I’m sure its over a thousand dollars. The advantage is that the
electrical discharge causes resistive heating only where the arc
terminates on the metal wire, and for a very brief period of time,
allowing you to control very precisely where the heat goes- into the
wire, and not into the stone. Additionally, there are electrical
welders that also use an argon cover gas to protect the metal from
oxidation during the weld process.

Hope this helps,
Guido