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Problems with fusing argentium


#1

Hello All:

I don’t really want to stir up the Argentium vs. Sterling debate
again but I need help and am somewhat desperate for answers and any
help I’ve looked for from past instructors has been ignored.

I have been using Argentium for a few years now so I would say I’m
fairly experienced with it. Lately when I have been attempting to
fuse it as I always have in the past I’ve noticed that it is not
staying fused. It seems as though that small microscopic layers are
fused but it’s not entirely fused right through. I was taught that
when Argentium fused it was at the molecular level so this really
contradicts this and has left me very confused and frustrated. How am
I supposed to know if it’s fused all the way through? I have lost all
confidence in using Argentium as I have wasted countless hours and
yes days trying to fix things that should have been done right the
first time. I’ll be at the final stages of a project and some of my
original “fused” seams come apart. I can’t fathom why especially
when in some cases I have already done a pre-polish and even tumbled
multiple times. It’s extremely disheartening.

I have even ordered new materials from Rio to ensure that it might
have been just a bad batch. I have never encountered this before so
I’m really perplexed as to why it’s happening now. I have now stopped
fusing and starting soldering and I’ve also stopped granulating
because of this. These are all reasons why I started using Argentium
in the first place.

I would be interested in hearing from other Argentium users who have
experienced this and have some advice/suggestions. I really would
appreciate any feedback you have.

Thanks in advance!
Jennifer


#2

I used argentium for about a year and half almost exclusively. I
found I could not rely on it for complex fabricated pieces…just
too much going on to have things crack, slump, or not fuse. It was
unpredictable and I was doing the same thing over and over with it.
I am sure its just a few degrees of the torch… Operator error that
I was getting poor results, but I cannot say it was for lack of
trying. I am very persistent. I did take a work shop aswell and it
was not really that helpful. I use it a little now but have just
found that fine silver and sterling silver is better because its more
predictable for me - old habits die hard! I breathed a sigh of
relief when I used my last sheet of argentium (sorry argentium…
Like I said probably operator error). I have not tried the other
sterling alloys. Just sharing my limited experience.

:slight_smile: joy kruse


#3

I’m sorry that you are having problems with Argentium… Yes, I
agree it is probably operator error. One thing people should know
about Argentium is that the ability to fuse it is a good thing, but
also can work against you. You can not expect to do complex
fabrication by just fusing your parts together. If you use Argentium
for granulation type jewelry, it works wonderfully. How ever, if you
are using it for traditional fine jewelry or complex fabrication,
fusing is limited. Therefore, you have to solder the parts. In this
case Argentium behaves like soldering gold. Heat the piece lightly
then focus the heat on the seam then on to the solder and watch it
flow.

At JSI we teach all the aspects of fabrication, simple and complex
(clasps and mechanisms included), when to fuse and when to solder. We
also have the only official Argentium instructor certification
program and test.

Success will only come with the true knowledge of the metal.

Vasken


#4

Dear Jennifer,

that sure does sound frustrating!

How are you cleaning before fusing? Perhaps try something more
abrasive? such as pumice and water, or scotchbrite pad. check that
water “sheets off” fully.

What flux are you using? Though many brands work, my favorite is Rio
Grande’s My-T-Flux.

I find that when fusing and granulating, it is not enough to see the
surface melt— while using the torch, I watch EACH granule (well,
ALMOST every one) to see the fused joint between the two parts. Do
you do that?

If none of these thoughts helps, I would be willing to try to watch
you via Skype, or some other screen share, to see if I can spot the
problem.

Cynthia Eid
www.cynthiaeid.com


#5

Hi Vasken,

I was recently assisting Ronda Coryell with an argentium workshop
that she was teaching here in Bend, Oregon.

She handed me some AS to “play” with and I made this setting in
slightly over an hour.

Keep in mind that it was just an exercise in working with the metal,
but this basket setting (about 12mm in diameter) was totally fused.
Granted that making the setting took some experience with a torch,
but I was impressed with what I could fabricate with this metal.

I hope to see you all down in Texas sometime soon.
Jim


#6

Dear Jennifer,

that sure does sound frustrating!

How are you cleaning before fusing? Perhaps try something more
abrasive? such as pumice and water, or scotchbrite pad. check that
water “sheets off” fully.

What flux are you using? Though many brands work, my favorite is Rio
Grande’s My-T-Flux.

I find that when fusing and granulating, it is not enough to see the
surface melt— while using the torch, I watch EACH granule (well,
ALMOST every one) to see the fused joint between the two parts. Do
you do that?

If none of these thoughts helps, I would be willing to try to watch
you via Skype, or some other screen share, to see if I can spot the
problem.

Cynthia Eid
www.cynthiaeid.com