Reticulation of Nickel Silver & Brass

Has anyone had any success with this? Have seen wonderful pieces in
Jewelry-Making books, but no explanations. I’ve had some success
with 820 silver, but this looks interesting. Gary Strickland, GJG

Gary, Nickel Silver reticulates nicely. Haven’t tried Brass.

Hi Gary, you will actually get much more pronounced reticulation with
brass than silver - at least that was my experience. The process is
quite straightforward. The basic idea of reticulation is that you want
a relatively impermeable crust on the surface which will contain the
just-beginning-to-melt metal beneath the surface. As the subsurface
melt occurs the surface roils and ridges into those great textures.
Someone once told me that it is a similar process to the cooling of
the earth’s crust. Some of the other experts on Orchid will know the
technical terms and metallurgical processes better than I. Whatever,
I certainly found that brass gave me a much better reticulation than
silver or gold alloys.

Because I wanted to eventually cast to a rich heaviness in 18ct
yellow gold from my originals, I started with 2mm thick brass plate. I
cleaned the surface with a coarse scratch brush, then annealed it and
plunged it into my acid pickle, figuring that this would give me an
oxidised surface. After washing and drying, I placed it on a soldering
mat and heated it up with a large flame until the surface started to
contract and form the texture.

Experiment. I found that if I over-heated the surface it would melt
smooth again. I also found that several goes at it increased the
reticulation texture, especially if I plunged it hot into the pickle
after each reticulation. The subsequent texture cast in lovely detail.
I still use it. Kind regards, Rex from Oz

Roy, How do I do it? There’s no depletion-gilding step, since there’s
nothing to build up, right?

both nickel silver and Nugold may be textured with heat but will not
give the wrinkled look of silver. One will give a regular pattern of
square pits and I don’t remember what the other gives or which one
gives the square pits. Since there is no silver in either one, there
is no way to build up a silver firecoat. Simply heat and observe.

Marilyn smith

Hi Gary, I’m sure there are as many ways to do it as to stub your toe
but I do it just like for 80/20 or sterling. Heat, pickle, brass
brush scrub in ammonia/Dawn. Repeat seven times, then go for it with
the increased heat to produce the reticulation action. I do not know
if there is any depletion occuring but there is evidently some
different coefficients of expansion so there must be some
stratification. I would suspect it is between the copper and nickel;
doubt that the zinc is a factor. If there is no depletion or
stratification, maybe the “depletion steps” could be eliminated.
Perhaps one of our metals people will enlighten us.

BTW- You might get a kick out of the reason I say “just like
sterling”. Several years ago Gayle Morris was showing her class at
Wm. Holland how to reticulate silver. Mine wasn’t looking like the
others (different color). She finally determined that I had nickel
silver. I had bought a number of 6"x36" sheets of sterling from Rio
Grande and one of them turned out to be nickel silver. Luckily, I
still had all of the pieces I had cut from it. Gayle is a lurker on
this list so maybe we can get her to tell the story like it actually
happened! Gayle ?? At least it was proven that nickel silver would reticulate. Roy-