Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Melting gold


#101
The OLD saying, "If it ain't broke, why fix it!" Yes there are
innovations, but are they always improvements? 

True, if it ain’t broke, why fix it. The point is progress for
progress’ sake is fruitless imo, but if something can be improved it
says to me that it wasn’t working at 100% in the first place.

I’ll look at a process, and see if it can be improved (I used to be
an analyst, and improving things was my job), I’d leave something
alone if it could not be done better. Better is a subjective term of
course, but we usually had parameters written down, so that
expectations were met. An analyst has to know how the process works,
to even be able to attempt improvements. It means a “lot” of
questions.

For example the jewellery techniques we use today aren't hundreds
of years old, none of us on this list are that stuck in
traditions, and thank God for that. Excuse me on this one! I AM
STUCK IN THE PAST. My metalsmithing and jewelry work is done on
stage at a Shakespeare Festival. I recreate as close as possible
the manner an item was made in the 1600's. Thank God I get paid for
this! Most tools we use today, except for electric ones, were used
long ago as well. We may have refined them, but the basic ones are
still mostly the same. 

It was a general statement aimed at the “traditional” modern
jeweller, another subjective term. The term for what you do is
commonly called “tribal” jeweller, or experimental archaeologist.
It’s a very exciting field, and I know a few scholars around the
globe that dedicate all their time to their research. I keep in
contact with them, in case they re-discover an old technique that can
be of use to me.

I would love to see you work, I’m working on getting an experimental
soldering tool for Anglo Saxon jewellery reproduction. It sort of
looks like a scented oil burner, the ones that use a tea light. So I
am very interested in the techniques that you use, although the ones
I’m researching are a little earlier :wink:

I am very impressed and glad that someone that puts that much effort
into making a replica gets compensated accordingly. A lot of people
do not see the value in the work (a previous example from me is
sewing needles at $30 a pop, plus a minimum order quantity, made by
traditional/ancient techniques).

The only thing I could suggest that could earn you some extra cash
is to make a DVD of yourself working. I remember a man that did this
with coracles, and he got some play money out of it :wink:

It is just to keep questioning and demanding proof when you don't
do the work to see for yourself what you question is right or
wrong, makes you look like the little kid who sits in the back of
a car and keeps asking endlessly "why?" Reactions from people then
are to tune you out. This board is made up of wonderful very
experienced professionals who have done the work, and pass on their
sagely advise to try and save us the hardships of doing it wrong.
My suggestion to you Charles, is to do the work and experiment then
come back with specific questions as to why you failed. 

I agree with you, but if the techniques aren’t properly explained,
it leads to frustration. When it’s explained “why” techniques work,
there’ll be no questions, just understanding.

I will ask “why” if I don’t understand something, or if my
experiences are different, that’s something I can’t apologise for,
and it’s not a disrespectful thing at all.

I know how most alloys and elements are supposed to work (some
alloys I have a lot of personal experience with), but there’s always
room for improvement, as the combination of alloys is almost
limitless :wink:

I also have a good forging hammer, anvil, manual rolling mill, and
an electric rolling mill. Any time you want to work on this matter
you are welcome in my garage. 

I would love to come over and chew the fat and work on techniques,
and I thank you for the kind offer. I will give it a miss at the
moment, as the swim from Australia is a little extreme :wink:

Kindest regards Charles A.


#102

Charles,

Accusing me of deliberately confusing the issue of forging ingots
isn't a logical conclusion from asking people to prove what they
say. 

Making Ingots

  1. Clean ingot mold parts and apply layer of machine oil or beeswax
    to surfaces.

  2. Warm the mold with the torch until oil smokes.

  3. Melt and mix alloy.

  4. Pour molten alloy onto the warm mold in a smooth, quick motion.

  5. After solidification and cooling in air, remove the mold and wipe
    ingot clean.

  6. Tap surfaces of the ingot lightly with a slightly-domed
    planishing hammer, to complete alignment of molecules. This aids in
    rolling the ingot into sheet.

From The Jeweler’s Bench Reference by Harold O"Connor.

I adopted Harold as my mentor, about 25 years ago. He is an
American, trained in Germany, traditional goldsmith techniques.

When you ask someone to prove something, you are asking someone to
defend their position. You seem to be ignoring the decades of
experience the members of this forum have. You apparently choose to
see the experience of others as meaningless unless someone proves it
(conceptualizes) to your satisfaction.

Trying to prove something to someone who does not have experience to
know the how and why makes no sense. What does is you doing the work
and discovering the results for yourself.

I think you would gain credibility if you completed Lenoid’s ring by
fabrication, show a level of skill rather than doubt and question
the techniques and methods of those that might have more skill and
experience. Learn something traditionally, then do your CAD CAM
magic. You will have more experiential knowledge that might help you
in your endeavor to show others how brilliant you are. You know,
results speak, questioning others to prove something seems silly.
You do the work, report back…

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#103
I see little difference between forging with a hammer and forging
in a rolling mill when your ingots are less than 50 grams. 

Just today I melted some 9 carat red, made a custom sheet ingot,
straight from the sand I rolled it without issue.

Rolled it until I felt resistance, annealed it let it cool, then
rolled it again, annealed it once more and rolled once more.

I started with a sheet ingot 1.2mm thick.

I’m going to belt the next ingot with a hammer first, to see if it
makes a difference to what I’m doing (which I’m sure it will).

The red I’m using is 37.5% Au, 3.5% Ag and 55% Cu, more forgiving
than the original deep red.

Regards Charles A.


#104

What about the solder in the chain?


#105

Hi Richard,

That’s similar to the procedure I used to use when using a steel
mould, except we didn’t use machine oil or beeswax, we just used a
sooty flame from an acetylene torch.

What I do for an ingot :-

  1. Fill a container with Delft clay, and pack it down.

  2. Impress your model into the Delft clay, and make a funnel shape.

  3. Melt and mix the alloy.

  4. Pour molten alloy into the cold mold in a smooth, quick motion,
    whilst keeping the flame on the pour.

  5. Take the ingot straight out of the mould and recycle your Delft
    clay.

I can roll my ingots straight away without a problem, I will attempt
to forge my next sheet ingot, and give it a go.

When you ask someone to prove something, you are asking someone to
defend their position. You seem to be ignoring the decades of
experience the members of this forum have. You apparently choose
to see the experience of others as meaningless unless someone
proves it (conceptualizes) to your satisfaction. 

Well, basically I treat people the same way I’m treated, if I’m
expected to “defend my position” as you put it, why should anyone be
exempt. You would expect that if someone has decades of experience
they would have no problem explaining the facts, as I’m sure your
mentor did(?).

I have not ignored the decades of experience that members on this
forum have, and in fact a lot of the replies have been courteous, and
knowledgeable on and off this list.

I do not see the experiences of others as meaningless, however you
have not afforded the same courtesy to me.

I will not apologise for asking questions or asking why. If
something doesn’t make sense, I’d be a fool, not to ask for
clarification. I don’t undertake anything blindly, would you? I hope
not.

Trying to prove “something” (in fact forging ingots before rolling)
has been adequately done by James Binnon, his explanation of the
benefits of forging an ingot was exceptional. Won me over. The
difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher I guess. It
doesn’t matter how many decades of experience you have if you can’t
pass that knowledge on, it dies with you.

I think you would gain credibility if you completed Lenoid's ring
by fabrication, show a level of skill rather than doubt and
question the techniques and methods of those that might have more
skill and experience. Learn something traditionally, then do your
CAD CAM magic. You will have more experiential knowledge that might
help you in your endeavor to show others how brilliant you are. You
know, results speak, questioning others to prove something seems
silly. 

I doubt that I would gain credibility by completing Leonid’s ring by
hand fabrication. It’s not in the nature of this list.

I’m actually doing the jewellery trade fabrication course accepted
by the Australian jewellery industry (this is my final year). I
recently won an opal jewellery competition, I won the student
category, I submitted a mixed media pendant, it contained a nice opal
pair. I can do the work. I’m doing CAD CAM along with the traditional
methods.

Does that mean anything to you?

I don’t seek acclaim from anyone, although I must admit the cash
prize was very handy, and if I seek employment from someone else, the
certificates will look good in my resume folder :slight_smile:

My goal on this list is to learn from others and to share what I
know, and I have things to share. I may ask a lot of question that
seem pointless to you, but remember you have more experience under
your belt in the jewellery trade, the questions are not pointless to
me.

Regards Charles A.


#106

Very nice, but this is not addressing the question of tradition. As
several have written, old technologies coexist in our studio
alongside new. Yes, there are processes that may be best undertaken
using traditional and older tools but that does not negate the value
of new technologies, processes and practices. (The “gadgetry” that
was referred to.)

Again, it is a baby and bath water proposition.

Take care,
Andy


#107
Tap surfaces of the ingot lightly with a slightly-domed planishing
hammer, to complete alignment of molecules. This aids in rolling
the ingot into sheet. 

I have a great deal of respect for Harold as a craftsman but this is
typical of the kind of nonsense that keeps getting passed down as
learned lore form master smiths. It is a bastardization of the
concept passed on by and to those who don’t understand the mechanics
and underlying metallurgical processes. You are not doing anything
"to complete alignment of molecules" that is total and complete
nonsense. A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more
atoms held together by covalent bonds, metals are held together by
metallic bonding where positively charged metal ions in a lattice
are held together by sharing a cloud of free electrons. These
lattices of metal atoms form crystals or in metallurgy speak grains.
The act of forging is intended to do major distortion of the crystal
structure of a metal. If you are going to forge an ingot try to
reduce it 30 to 50 % in thickness. If you are going to just lightly
tap it, don’t even bother you are just wasting your time go straight
into the rolls.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#108
Yes, there are processes that may be best undertaken using
traditional and older tools but that does not negate the value of
new technologies, processes and practices. 

I did not arrive at my position by waking up one day and deciding
that everything new should be rejected. My position is the result of
my experience with jewellery. The problem with modern methodologies
is that while they may make some individual phases of fabrication
easier, the total quality and appearance of jewellery suffers. I know
for a fact that more and more people buying antique engagement rings
and remount them with new diamonds, or they ask for a copies of
antique designs emphasizing that it has to be fabricated and not
cast. The look and feel of modern style just does not appeal to them
anymore.

So called “value” is only benefiting large manufactures. It takes
years of training to be able to solder delicate parts, with laser a
week of instruction is all that is needed. The difference appears to
be minor, but in completed piece, assembled by laser, the difference
can be seen from across a street. None of the modern processes is
actually improving the quality itself. They are targeted to reduce
manufacturing costs and been able to use unskilled labour. It is not
a coincidence that a lot of such jewellery is sold on TV. Reminds me
fo Seinfeld episode when his father says the the only way to move
merchandize is to use crooked mirrors and dim lights.

I have no trepidation to let my jewellery be examined in bright
light and under 10x magnification. The only way that I know how to
withstand such scrutiny is to use traditional fabrication techniques.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#109

I’m going to weigh in on this discussion for a moment. I began my
career as an engineer before becoming a jeweler. I even did graduate
work at a microfabrication facility, so there were lots of little
scientific bits I already knew about material properties before I
started.

I started off designing in CAD, while also attempting to learn the
bench portion as well. As I learned more traditional fabrication
methods at the bench from some truly skilled people, my CAD work
became much better.

When someone of true skill in the art of jewelry fabrication has
done something, it is usually through what we like to call the
Scientific Method. They experimented incessantly. You see, these
people have learned from their teachers the “traditional” way, and
more than likely they may have questions about it, maybe even
question why themselves. Some teachers may have the patience to
explain, some may not. No matter what the student says or does, the
teacher always goes back to their bench with a small smile because
they know that the student will probably try many methods other than
what they taught. I’d say nearly 80% to 90%of the time the student
will go back to what the teacher had showed them.

I think that you think you are doing due diligence by questioning
the old ways and asking for a proof. This is probably not the best
way to go about it for two reasons. Firstly, you are raising the ire
of may jewelers because what you probably think you are questioning
is something like, “Why do we make car seats the way we do? Isn’t
there a more ergonomic design?” However what you are really
questioning is more like, “Why do we build buildings with steel and
concrete?”

My second reason is drawn from personal experience, and it always
gets my goat. I have a friend who I cannot stand to debate with for
one reason. No matter what argument I may make or position I take,
if I state anything at all the next words out of his mouth will be,
“Show the the study/data that says that.” It’s probably the most
useless, frustrating statement one could make. Why do I mention
this? Simple, no one owes anyone an education in any subject. If you
really want to question it, if you truly just have to know, then go
look it up or try it for yourself. No one is trying to be the “bad
buy/girl” here, but can you see how frustrating this can be from the
perspective of people with skills and knowledge who have been
successful at this for a long period of time?

Sure, there is always room for new methods and technology. Jewelers
are an experimental bunch by nature, and when we get together we
always learn some neat new trick from one another (hence the forum).
If I were you, I would take the mindset of a good apprentice. Take
the in, process it and then work it out for yourself.
There are quite a lot of things you can learn by just doing it.

Respectfully,
DL


#110

There is much to explain when referring to forging.

A rolling mill with 25mm rollers will forge different to a mill with
75mm rollers.

Forging with a flat sledge hammer on a flat anvil is different to
forging with a paired set of cross-peen hammer and cross-peen anvil.

Forging as I know it, is rendering an ingot into a basic shape by
forming devices, files, scrapers, fitting and joining, and various
finishing processes.

Casting can be either:

  1. Casting an ingot ready for more or less forging and further
    processes, or

  2. Casting the final shape that only needs a little finishing.

I believe #1 will produce a more structurally sound product than #2.
Annealing applies to #1 and not #2.

Melting gold is easy. What you do afterwards is complex and has
endless possibilities.

Alastair


#111
Let's take something like hollow ball completely set, using
technique of pave. 

Sorry, Leonid, I can’t visualise this. How can you get any tool
inside a hollow ball?

Jerry in Kodiak


#112

All that I can say on this subject is that I have always cast my
ingots and taken then directly to my rolling mill and rolled them
out to 50% of their thickness and then annealed them and kept on
going… in my 42 years of doing this work have never had a problem
unless the allow was contaminated in some way…

Just my 2 cents worth… I value my time and time is money. this
system has worked for me… It might not work for you… if not then
try forging first… and see if that makes a difference. Or better
yet try just rolling it out and if you see cracks forming on the
edges then stop and anneal and then forge and see if it makes a
difference… Thanks for everyone’s advice on this subject… all is
valuable and appreciated…

I will throw this bit of info in… I once took a enameling course…
one of only 2 courses I ever took… and was told by the instructor
that what I had done he had never done because his instructor told
him it could not be done…changed his enameling techniques… I did
not know better… I just did what I thought would be neat to do… I
built up a 3d enameled flower… without supports… just took a lot
of looking at the melting of the enamel and more layering and
remelting…

That said… not everything that is passed down is written in stone
…experiment and you might fine out something new that you can
share with others…

First and foremost respect others and their thoughts and skills…
Even if they do not always agree with you… because from their
perspective you do not agree with them… :slight_smile: Live life to the
fullest and love what you do while doing it…

Vernon Wilson


#113
I have no trepidation to let my jewellery be examined in bright
light and under 10x magnification. The only way that I know how to
withstand such scrutiny is to use traditional fabrication
techniques. 

I think that gets to the heart of it Leonid. That is the only way
you know that you will achieve the results you’re after. There is
nothing wrong with that and it’s very common for anyone to feel that
way. In your case you’ve spent your life developing your skills,
focused on fabrication. When any of us chose a method or technique
to build our career and reputation on, it’s human nature to feel
like we need to defend that as the best way, and maybe the only way,
to do the work… and for that person it is the best way. I think we
do get off track when we discredit other methods that we ourselves
have not embraced or mastered. It comes off as an effort to validate
our own life choices rather than a legitimate criticism.


#114
Sorry, Leonid, I can't visualise this. How can you get any tool
inside a hollow ball? 

The first question should be how one makes a hollow ball. The answer
is from 2 hemispheres. The rest is self-explanatory.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#115

I’m with you, Verne, on the rolling out process. It’s just easier for
me to melt down clean scrap into ingots, and then roll them out into
wire, down to 12g - 14g, and then draw them down to 15g to 20g. Not
worth making thick wire or sheet metal, but worth doing the 12g to
20g. wire.

Joy


#116

Jim,

When you make a statement about “grain or crystal boundaries”. Are
the words grain and crystal interchangeable and the same thing?

Nice informative write up.
Thank you,
Gary D.


#117
When you make a statement about "grain or crystal boundaries". Are
the words grain and crystal interchangeable and the same thing? 

Yes they are interchangeable in metallurgical terminology.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#118

I recently made a 14K rose with 58.5% gold, 36.5% copper and 5% silver and yet it still cracked. What happened was I alloyed it, poured it into a charcoal block, rolled and annealed and no cracks. Rolled and Annealed still no cracks. On the third round of annealing it had cracks all over for no apparentt reason. I thought my copper was impure but it was electrical copper from the hardware store…

I would like to how it could have possibly cracked and like that.