I actually was forced to learn how to silver solder to save this
piece. The edges are crude, I know, but I’ll explain later. Note that
this is fine silver, not yet sterling.
The original design was inspired by a paper heart sculpture my 9 year
old daughter brought home one day last year. Back then, I made a full
sized pendant in silver rather than paper based on that design.
I wanted more of a challenge, so I decided to recreate the heart in
I carved the pattern I wanted, using a carbide cutting bit in my
Dremel, into a piece of basswood. The depth would be about half the
width of the silver strip which I rolled out and cut myself and
intended to use. This would serve as my bending jig.
Once the strips were lain in place, I held them together temporarily
with small blunt alligator clips, while I cut and bent pieces of
iron wire to hold the pieces together for fusing.
As usual, I filled gaps where the strips met, both sides, with PMC
slip. I then fused it with a propane torch. Butane is not hot enough
to fuse even at this scale, but it is hot enough to solder with.
One side, the right as you see in front view, had a section that had
completely melted through. I found a piece of scrap silver the size I
wanted. I filed, fluxed (with Stay-Silv) and soldered one side with
hard solder, then the other side with medium solder.
Then I sanded and thrummed wherever I could, up to about 1500 grit.
For a pin, I took a section of brass, sharpened one end using my
bench grinder, and then bent the other.
I had intended to work-harden the silver using a rawhide hammer, but
alas it bent all the strips in the upper section out of shape! I had
to use different sets of bending pliers to restore the shape, but I
couldn’t get the edges quite right.
I filed what I intended as the back side of the heart, and also the
mounting side of the brass pin.
I laid the heart down on my torch pad, then I suspended the pin in
mid-air using a Radio Shack third-hand, adjusting the third hand
until the mounting side of the brass made full mechanical contact
with the heart.
I then fluxed the contact points, laid two small pieces of easy wire
solder in the fillets, and did the soldering using my butane torch.
So, that’s what I did for my wife for Mother’s Day, and it was quite
an adventure, let me tell you.
My wife really liked it, as I said before, and wore it to church in a
Happy Mother’s Day!
Andrew Jonathan Fine