You folks are great! Thanks so much for your responses. For the most
part I try to use wire that I'm recycling from a variety of sources.
I use old wire that was originally utilised as home wiring. Lots of
people in this desert just dump the stuff in the out-of-the-way
places I do my boonie-stomping in. It's very wasteful on their part
but I view it as free materials. I clean up the environment and can
turn a greater profit with the stuff making fashion items than I can
selling it as scrap copper. I also find quite a bit of the stuff at
these illegal dump sites that comes from old household appliances
like washers, dryers, refridgerators, microwaves, etc....It sickens
me to see the lack of care folks have for the environment but
someone's trash has become my treasure.
To answer some questions: I have tried using pocketknives, wire
strippers, simply pulling and the like to remove the insulation. I
also burned some at one time and got mostly carbon coated, highly
oxidized, very soft wire that didn't clean well, hence the questions
about a pickle. I have never tried citric acid but white vinegar was
a blowout. Perhaps I had an incorrect view of chemical cleaning.
Pool pH adjusters are on the horizon. So far the wire strippers have
been the most successful method but I will try the exacto knife
trick. I have used wet/dry papers up to 2000 grit with a great deal
of success, as well as red rouge, white diamond, even simple baking
soda to achieve a variety of surface textures and polishes. I also
use a tumbler and media made of treated corncob ( The kind used by
ammuniton reloaders for polishing cartridge cases).
When soldering I originally tried common rosin core lead/tin soft
solders but found them completely undesirable. I don't want lead to
be in the picture at all, it's simply too nasty. I was recently
given some low temp silver solders that I haven't yet tried, and I
also bought some 65% silver solder. I intend to try boric acid
dissolved on alcohol as a flux. I have used simple propane torches
in the past and I own an oxy/acetelyne torch as well. Temperature
control is a big issue with that one. I'm hoping to get a prestolite
rig soon. I work with copper sheet, wire, tubing and pipe. I'm
currently experimenting with ferric chloride etching techniques. I
want to produce the standard items; earrings, pins, bracelets, rings
etc. I also hope to use mixed media and so forth. You know jewelery,
the sky's the limit. I have several books on metalsmithing and
jewelery making that I spend a lot of time in, but I also like this
forum because you folks have the voice of experience that frequently
doesn't get presented well in print.
Here, I can ask specific questions and get specific answers. Thank
you again for your replies and I look forward to more interaction
with you all.