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Reticulation Puzzle


#1

I’ve been experimenting with silver reticulation, and something odd
(at least to me, being new to reticulation) occurred. I had some 20
gauge 2" 925 disks that I got from SJFS which oxidized to pure black
and required perhaps 10 anneal/quench/pickle cycles to give me very
rough reticulation, with some cracking of the disks. I was able to
"weld" the cracks together on further annealings. Some parts of the
disk reticulated while others didn’t. The fine silver shine came up
fine after the last few cycles.

Then, I used some 24 gauge 1-1/4" 925 disks that I got from
Thunderbird Supply. To my surprise, there was not oxidation at all,
not even on the first annealing. After 4 or 5 cycles, I went at it
with the torch, and was delighted to see that the disks reticulated
beautifully and evenly, with a sort of planetary look to them.

Hmmm.supposedly the same metal, aside from the gauges, but very
different results. I’m puzzled as to why there was no oxidation
whatsoever on the small disks.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Tel.: (717) 691-0286


#2

Brian,

It sounds to me that your first try with reticulation was on regular
sterling and your second on reticulation sterling. Two very different
results and it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I
personally prefer to reticulate on regular sterling silver. I prefer
my results, but you have to work very carefully so that you don’t put
the holes and cracks in.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA


#3

Jennifer,

It sounds to me that your first try with reticulation was on
regular sterling and your second on reticulation sterling. 

Nope - it was 925 sterling for all pieces concerned.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055


#4

The discs that reticulated so well actually looked more like fine
silver; they had a very nice luster. I’m not sure why these
particular discs worked so well, but I bought more !

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Tel.: (717) 691-0286


#5

Jennifer,

I agree with you and I too prefer to reticulate sterling. However,
your comment about being careful not to put holes and cracks in, I
believe begs a question of originality. Reticulation silver is quite
easy to work with and achieve nicely formed patterns whilst sterling
can be tricky and usually will not produce specific patterns…more
random in my opinion. However, a hole here and a ragged edge there
can add a great deal of interest to the reticulated surface. Of
course, it depends somewhat on what one is planning for the piece,
but sometimes I just reticulate some pieces and later 'fit them in’
to make something interesting. So too with cracks. It is fairly easy
to get cracks in sterling when reticulating due to stresses created
during depletion guilding. However, the cracks are easily repaired
by fusing during the retitulation process and they too can lend
interesting surfaces. Just another opinion I guess.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#6

Don,

I have to agree with your comment about the desirability of the
"mistakes" made when reticulating sterling silver. One of the best
pieces I’ve made so far was a total disaster, until I took a good
look at it and realized what I had. Holes, cracks, and all, it made a
very interesting piece.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055


#7

Don, I agree with you regarding the cracks and holes but I got the
impression from Brian that he didn’t want them and was trying to
figure out how to keep from getting them.

One of the reasons I like to work with sterling rather than
reticulation silver is the cool way the edges curl up when heated and
that just doesn’t happen with reticulation silver. With reticulation
silver you can get great geography but I prefer to work with the
sterling and be surprised by what the heating does.

Jennifer
Ventura, Ca


#8

It sounds to me that your first try with reticulation was on
regular sterling and your second on reticulation sterling.

Nope - it was 925 sterling for all pieces concerned. 

The concept of reticulation is to develop a pattern that is
developed by heating.800 silver and the pattern is developed by
heating the.800 silver 5 times, oxidizing it black and pickling it
so there is a fine silver layer that is then heated and the inside
becomes molten and the outside is like a skin. A blue cone flame is
used to develop the pattern. Reticulation results are best with
propane.

Sterling can be torch textured, but is it reticulated? On Harold
O’connor’s website,

haroldoconnor.com there is an image number scan0023.jps on page 2.
This is what reticulation is supposed to look like.

I think it is important to have a visual reference so we are on the
same page, then whatever the results are that are going to be
discussed, we are talking about the same thing.

Does the.925 that is being heated develop the pattern like on
Harold’s piece? Theoretically you cannot get this pattern with.925,
that is why there is commercially available reticulation silver.

Brian, whatever colors they turned during heating, did they pickle
white again after heating? I have burned sterling that would not
pickle white, it was dirty gray. This is what happens, in my
experience with acetylene.

Richard Hart


#9

Brian…I’ve been watching this thread and also trying to figure out
what went wrong. One possibility is the alloy. Perhaps you got a bad
batch of alloyed discs…though I find that doubtful…it is still
possible. If there is an uneven mix, the depletion process would not
be even and the areas that darkened would be where there is heavier
concentration of copper…thus…no depletion.

Another possibility might be your depletion process. You must be
sure the surfaces are clean, well covered with protective flux
(Pripp’s, etc) and are heated evenly. This too can cause uneven
depletion if they are not. Brushing can also be a factor. When you
brass brush them between heatings…do a thorough job or the
oxidized copper will not be removed evenly. Third might also be the
amount of heat. Do not make them bright red. They should be only
heated to a dull red color (plus just a little maybe). If they are
heated too much, and then quenched, the metal can actually become
brittle and, after multiple heatings, crack. This, I believe is
caused by uneven stresses also caused by out of phase alloy.

Not sure if one or several of the above caused your problem but they
are all possibilities. Others may think of more.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#10

Richard,

I haven’t used.800 silver yet for reticulation, only.925 sterling. I
had two batches of silver discs from two different suppliers, each
supposed to be.925 sterling. I heated both with a MAPP torch.

One batch showed lots of black oxidation and needed several
heat/quench/pickle cycles before I got the white coating which was
removed with a brass brush. It did not reticulate very well.

The second batch of sterling showed no oxidation even on the first
heating, and turned white after the first pickle. When I felt it was
ready, (i.e. I had a thick enough coating of fine silver) I went at
it with the MAPP torch and it reticulated beautifully. So I ordered
up some more. :slight_smile:

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055


#11

I have had some fantastic results and ended up with pieces that I
could not have imagined.

I wish that this forum would be allowed to include some of the
wonderful pieces that we all make from time to time, I mean of course
pictures that can be shared or even criticised.

Since I joined I have not seen one picture submitted, Is it strictly
taboo? please tell me someone.

Sam Trump


#12

Hi Jennifer, as I told you some time ago I buy silver spoons and
find that my best Reticulation results are from those that are made
from silver pre 1850.

I don’t do all this fancy annealing and brushing I get results from
using a propane /air torch with a soft broad flame and watching the
deformation like a hawk.

Sam Trump.


#13
Another possibility might be your depletion process. You must be
sure the surfaces are clean, well covered with protective flux
(Pripp's, etc) and are heated evenly. 

Don, why do you cover the silver with flux? As I understand it, you
want the copper to oxidize so you can pickle it off, and flux will
prevent that. When I heat to deplete, I use no flux-- seems to work
fine!

Noel


#14

Noel,

why do you cover the silver with flux? As I understand it, you
want the copper to oxidize so you can pickle it off, and flux will
prevent that. When I heat to deplete, I use no flux-- seems to work
fine! 

I wondered the same thing - I use no flux, just go at it with the
torch, quench and pickle.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055


#15

Whoops…you are entirely correct Noel…My mind was out to lunch
when I wrote that sentence. I was obviously thinking of annealing at
that instant!!! Remove the ‘well covered with protective flus
(Pripp’s, etc)’ and the sentence reads mo’better.

Thanks for catching it and I apologize to any who were confused.

Cheers from Don in SOFL