Hi Folks, I’ve successfully reticulated sterling sheet in the past,
but am now having trouble trying to get the results I want. First,
let me say I know 820 or 800 silver is available and can produce
better results, but sterling has worked well for me before, and I
want to use stock I have on hand. I also read that 24 ga. sheet might
be considered to be on the thin side, but again, I just want to
reproduce the success I’ve already had.
I started with two pieces of 24 ga sheet, torch heated with an
oxidizing flame for several minutes, air cooled, then pickled.
Repeated about three times, increasing the length of time the sheet
“soaked” in the flame each time. When I attempted to reticulate,
rather then getting a wrinkled pattern to evolve, it kind of
blistered and bumped. The result is probably best described as frog
skin. I suspected I was impatient, and should have repeated the
heat/cool/pickle cycle a few more times.
Two more pieces of 24 ga. Cycle through the process 6-7 times,
burnishing the surface of the sheet about every other time. I’m
starting to wonder if the sheet is to thin that I have actually
leached ALL the copper from it - including the core. Dismiss the idea
as ridiculous, but store it away with all my other insecurities and
uncertainties. Results are virtually identical to the first round.
Maybe I was lucky in the past, and should heed advice to use a
heavier gauge. Take two pieces of 20 ga. sheet. Do the
heat/cool/pickle/burnish process 6-7 times. Results are slightly
better… one area developed a bit of the wrinkled effect, but more
puddling and bumping. It seems like the fine silver on the pools
together on the surface… looking like mercury.
A couple details. As I prepare the metal I’m doing my heating on a
wire rack, so plenty of air gets to the surface on both sides. I’m
using an oxy/acetylene Little Torch with a #5 tip and a big hissing
flame. To reticulate I’m placing the sheet on a clean, preheated
piece of magnesite (?) block or solderite pad. The first round I was
actually trying to reticulate in my Ultralite kiln. My suspicion was
that my problem was due to the sheet not being able to cool rapidly
enough due to the heat of the kiln. Subsequent test seem to show this
wasn’t the problem. My pickle isn’t “fresh”, per se, but it’s working
fine for other pieces and seems to work effectively develop the fine
silver skin. The flame I’m using to reticulate is a sharp hot
flame… play all over the sheet to bring up to temperature, then
move it over the sheet in a linear pattern as the surface starts to
Okay… that’s about it. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong? The
resulting sheets may be useable, but I need more wrinkles to complete
the bail for a reticulated pendant I made from sheet I did a few
years ago. I hate to keep throwing more metal at the problem, trying
to solve it by trial and error.
As usual, all comments and ideas are appreciated!
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)