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Powdered solder and Rochoir


Anyone in the Orchid community with experience using the below technique?

In the book Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry I was fascinated reading in Chapter 7, page 185, about powdered solder for small filigree work. The small parts are glued onto gold sheet with gum tragacanth, or other organic substances, even saliva. Borax is then melted into glass and ground into fine powder. Fine gold solder filings and the fine powdered borax are mixed and sprinkled over the positioned sheet and wire components. This solder-flux mixture was kept in a special vessel known by the French term rochoir, which had a long spout with a serrated upper edge. Small amounts of the solder powder could be shaken out of the rochoir by running a fingernail along these serrations.

I am particularly interested in learning about this ancient method and making a rochoir.

Best regards,

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The tools sound similar to the chakpur, used in Tibet for creating sand mandalas.

Thank you Elliot. The image you shared looks like it could sprinkle powdered solder. The best image I could find it looks like this:


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I did find this:
ROCHOIR, s. m. (Orfevr.) instrument à l’usage de presque tous les ouvriers qui employent les métaux. C’est une petite boîte de cuivre ronde, & élevée à-peu-près comme la moitié d’un étui rond ; il y a un couvercle, & au-bas un trou auquel est adapté un tuyau sur lequel est une petite bande de métal crenée. Dans le corps de la boîte est renfermé le borax pulvérisé, & on fait tomber cette poudre sur les parties que l’on veut rocher ou saupoudrer de borax, en faisant passer son ongle le long des crans de la petite bande crenée, & en dirigeant le tuyau sur les places où l’on a besoin de borax.

Here is the translation:

ROCHOIR, s. m. (Orfevr.) Instrument for the use of almost all the workers who use metals. It is a little box of round copper, and raised to about the size of a round holster; there is a lid, and below a hole to which is fitted a pipe on which is a small band of crenated metal. In the body of the box is contained the pulverized borax, and this powder is dropped on the parts that one wants to rock or sprinkle with borax, by passing his fingernail along the notches of the small crenaceous band, and directing the pipe on the places where we need borax.

Has anyone made such a thing?

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The “crenaceous band” description kind-of reminds me of this tool for spreading powdered enamel, but it’s probably too small to work with borax.

Nowadays people use liquid flux, Batterns or
Cupronil, or white paste flux.

Victoria Lansford teaches a similar technique for Russian filigree. She makes (and sells) powdered solder that contains flux, so no further flux is required. The process works well! You can see my work using her techniques at See Victoria Lansford’s page, the products she sells (she has videos, too) and her workshop schedule. Her workshops are terrific!!

Thank you Patricia. Very pretty filigree work. How do you apply the powdered solder to the metal? I would need powdered gold solder and will contact Victoria Landslord about that, or learn to make it myself.

Happy to know powdered solder is still in use.

Hello Richard. Thank you for the tip. I will try heating the white paste flux to glass and then grinding it into powder.

Hi Betty,
Interesting tool. Does the enamel powder go in the copper cone and then do you run your fingernail across the coils to apply it?
Thank you.

Yes, the tool works exactly as you describe. There is a hole in the bottom of the cone.

Constant fingernail action as you move the tool will create a line of enamel.

Betty, that sounds perfect! I see Rio Grande has them in plastic. Love the copper one though. Do you know where I can purchase one? Thank you.

I have learned making jewellery from Master Goldsmith Gert Salzmann in germany who recreated medieval tools as a hobby. He is now retired and has a Goldsmith Museum. This article:
shows his place and in picture 5 you can see his “rochoir”. He made it when I was still there and used it to put salt on his breakfast… It works very well. See the spout curving upwards. He would have copied that from an old picture.
All the pictures are worth looking at!


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Hello Otrwin, Amazing!!! A photograph of a rochoir!
Did Gert Salzmann recreate ancient jewelry?
What did he put in the rochoir?
Here is the photo Otrwin has made possible.

I see holes around the top of the cylinder. Is there an inner piece? Do you know why the holes are there?

I love this forum.


Look on Amazon , search borax cone and dish.

Thanks for your link to the pics.
Whats so nice to see is that he has many of the larger tools I have here in Dorset. UK. which are currently in FULL use.
It prompts me to consider posting pics of my set up.
I too go to work unshaven at times!.
He has 1 fly press,
and a proper 3rd hand on the left .
with an older ungeared mill.
Couldnt see tho, any electric motor driven polishing set up. Im not counting the flex drive.

Do you know if he is still alive? and how currently old?
Im 83

You might want to check out Victoria Lansford. She offers workshops on filigree. Her work is fabulous and she an excellent teacher.

Hi Lois.
Here, near Porto, north of Portugal, there’s a tradicional filigree city(Gondomar), where we can find the only public jewelry school(CINDOR) in the country.
I learned old filigree techniques and how to make some tools, such as the one you describe as “rochoir”(we call it “borrachinha”).

Now, I teach traditional filigree techniques and contemporary design.
Here, you can see my tools to make filigree:

Here you can see some tradicional portuguese examples:

I can give you some details on how to make your own “borrachinha” if you like.

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Dear Dragonflies,
Your work is exquisite. And Porto seems like a wonderful place.
Yes! I would love a few more details on making the borrachinha. You are very kind. Thank you.



Many thanks for the site link - I really enjoyed the photos…