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Soldering and Sea Glass


#1

Hello All! I have been given an hour glass shaped piece of sea glass
and have been asked to wrap a piece of sterling strip around the
middle, like a belt. The customer would then like to have small jump
rings soldered to each side so they can use the piece of glass in a
bracelet.

The piece of glass is approx. 3/8" thick. I’ve already asked the
customer if they wouldn’t prefer to have the edge of the entire
piece wrapped in sterling with jumps, but they would prefer not.
This, of course, would make my life so much easier!

I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how I might tackle
this project?

I know from taking a lampwork beading class that glass can be
melted/heated and then cooled very slowly down to room temperature.
Would this work with a piece of sea glass? Should I use a kiln to
slowly reduce the temp.? Would the prolonged heat of the kiln save
the glass but tarnish the sterling? Are there any type of "blankets"
available to slip the heated piece if glass between to slowly cool
the glass?

So many questions…
Pam


#2

Pam, what about simply doing it totally as a wire wrap, i.e. make a
loop at the end of your wire, then position the loop on one side,
wrap the glass and on one pass around wire wrap around the loop, back
to the other side, make a loop, one more pass and wire wrap the loop
on the other side? Hard to describe what I am seeing in my head at
the moment. If I can get my scanner to work, I’ll try to draw it and
send to you off line. Or I thought about fabricating a “cradle” with
a piece of wire with jump rings at each end (think of a pair of eye
glasses and the bridge connecting the two lenses) and then lay the
hour glass on top of that construction and using a second piece of
wire, wrap the ends to secure the jump ring construction to the hour
glass. Sounds convuluted but think it could work. Just a thought.


#3

Hi Pam. I can’t offer you much advice on the silver work part of
your question but being that I am a dichroic glass cabochon
manufacturer I can offer you a bit of advice on working with the sea
glass. If you put the glass in the kiln, it’s not going to look like
sea glass anymore. I would think that the whole charm and character
of sea glass is that it has been matte finished and worn smooth by
being tumbled through the sea. If you melt the glass, it will become
nothing more than just another piece of glass. Even if the glass
doesn’t actually melt, the temperature you bring it up to might be
enough to change how it looks by slightly slumping it, changing the
shape slightly, or even altering the matte finish. I imagine that
your customer might be very unhappy about a change to the look of
her glass. Just a thought, I hope it helps. Good luck with your
project!

Sincerely,
Nancy Stinnett, Owner
Geosoul Arts
www.geosoul.com
(702) 436-7685


#4

A question about sea glass. I am envious of people who have the
luxury of being able to cruise the shore for sea glass. I love its
infinite colours and possibilities. I’ve heard others will tumble
glass to achieve that effect. Is it possible to acquire "man made"
sea glass and does it really have the same charm and appearance?

Judy in 35 below zero N.Falls where the car tires are scrunching on
the packed snow…i wish i were in
tahiti


#5

The assignment is to attach a sterling silver strip with two jump
rings around the “waist” of an hourglass -shaped piece of beach
glass. The challenging aspect is that, once on the beach glass, no
soldering can be done.

I can see a few straightforward solutions. It’s time for cold
connections.

One approach would be to solder jump rings onto a strip of sterling
of a heavy enough gauge that soldering would not be necessary. The
challenge would be to conform it to the middle of the beach glass
without stressing the glass to the point of breakage. If you are
careful, though, it should be doable.

An alternative would be to use a thinner gauge strip of sterling,
and fasten it with one or more rivets. Bend the strip around the
stone, and then drill one or more holes through the top of the
overlap and slightly into the bottom strip. Remove the strip, and
solder wire of the same diameter as the drill hole at each of the
marks on the bottom strip (and solder on your jump rings.)
Reassemble around the stone, feed the wires through the top, and
either treat them as rivets (easy does it, though, so you don’t
damage the glass) or just bend them over to lock the strip. You
could even use a contrasting metal for the wire, if your customer is
amenable to that.

Yet another option would be to use heavy round wire (like maybe 14
gauge.) Cut the wire 3/4 inch longer than necessary to girdle the
sea glass. Ball both ends of the wire with your torch. Bend
approximately to shape so you can see where to attach the jump
rings, and solder them on. Bend a loop in one end of the wire big
enough to accomodate the other end of the wire. Fit it to the beach
glass, put the other end of the wire through the loop, and bend it
back on itself to hold the wire in place. With this approach, as an
alternative to soldering jump rings, you could bend a couple of
additional loops in the wire at the appropriate points. There are
variations on this solution- for example, you could just bend the
balled ends of both wires up at a 90 degree angle, drop a jump
ring, bent as for loop-in-loop chain, over them, and crimp the jump
ring to lock it in place.

The fun part of this is that you can take what is presented as a
technical problem, and make it an excuse for all sorts of quirky
design elements.

Of course, as a last resort, there is the chemical cold connection,
AKA epoxy :wink:

HTH,
Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry
http://www.dosmanosjewelry.com


#6

Lee,

Thanks for the great suggestions!

My thoughts were so locked up in how to solder this piece, I
completely overlooked cold connections. I especially like your
suggestion for using a contrasting metal wire.

Thank you, thank you…

Pam


#7

Hi, Judy, I have seen small bags of “sea glass” at my local hobby
store (Michael’s is the chain in the Chicago area). They look like
the real thing, though I’m sure it is manufactured. The real stuff
here on Lake Michigan is almost all shades of green and brown (beer
bottles?) but the commercial ones seem to come in all colors.
Another route would be to heat broken glass of choice in a kiln
until the edges round, cool and tumble or frost in glass etch cream.
Personally, I’d go with tumbling-- hydrofluoric acid, which etches
glass, is scary stuff… But if you could round the edges in a kiln
first, it would take a lot off time off the process, seems to me.
Good luck!

–No�l


#8

In regards to Pam’s query about the sea glass project, here is what
I have done. To set a piece of sea glass as a pendant, I first make a
bezel that is very tight out of regular flat silver bezel
material(about 1/8" wide), this will fit around the edge of the
glass. After soldering the bezel ends together with hard solder, I
take two jump rings that I have previously soldered and solder them
to the bezel. After the bezel/jumprings are assembled and finished I
then move to the sea glass. It is now time to put the sea glass into
the bezel. With a tight fit you should just be able to fit it in and
have no extra space around the glass, this is crucial. Now you need
to take a burnishing tool of some sort and burnish down the small
amount of bezel that extends from each side of the glass. Of course
some care is needed with sea glass to avoid breaking it, but it is
pretty tough. If you have fit the glass right, you should be able to
securely set a piece of glass this way. -Brian Coffey Seattle, WA


#9

Hi, Lee I loved your suggestions for girdling an hourglass
shape. It never hurts to be reminded of the mind-set that produced
them, which I guess I would describe as open-minded problem-solving.
It allows an “obstacle” to become a springboard, and makes clear the
necessity of keeping the “creative muscles” in shape by tackling
challenging projects. Thanks!

–No�l


#10

Here’s another thought–similar to others but maybe a little
different. If you are using a strip of silver for the girdle, put
small holes at either end and once on the glass connect them with a
small jump ring and crimp it. A tiny bit of epoxy(!) at the point
of closure, might hold the whole thing nicely in place I’m thinking
that what you need to look out for is that sideways pressure on the
finished object may pull the assembly apart when it is worn. A
heavier gauge wire for the little jump ring (maybe 16 Ga.) would
help prevent that from happening. Sandra


#11

Hi Brian, That’s a great idea. I’ve done one piece like that recently
and it looks beautiful. I tried to persuade my customer to go that
route, but she has her heart set on the “belt”. Of course!

I’m working on a sterling strip with jump rings and gold wire rivet.
I’ve never worked with gold before so I thought this tiny experiment
would be a good opportunity to try.

Again, thanks for your idea!
Pam


#12

I have looked into this because I make seaglass jewelry, and I used
to worry about running out. I really don’t think tumbled glass
compares to real seaglass. It is pretty in its own way, but it
doesn’t have the funky nicks and dings and the soft texture of the
real deal. It just doesn’t have the same organic look. You can find
tumbled glass on ebay and at some landscape suppliers if you want to
check it out. Ali Friedman alf jewelry & metals www.alfmetals.com