Janet, You said you held the wire in a propane flame for a long time.
What kind of propane flame? If you are using only propane without
oxygen, and if the flame is very wide and/or soft, that might be part
of your problem. 16ga wire is not very heavy and should melt very
easily…however, if the flame is bushy (maybe even at reducing
level), you are not getting the right concentration of heat at the
tip of the wire. In short, most of the heat is simply bypassing the
To get a ball on the end of wire, first use a sharp oxydizing flame
(hard blue) and point the blue cone at the tip of the wire. It is
best to use propane w/02 or acetylene w/02 to get the heat required.
The Prip’s flux should not interfer with the melt but, before placing
the wire in the flame, dip the tip into self-pickling flux such as
Batterns. This will insure the area is very clean and help the ball
form. When you get the size ball you want, slowly move the torch
away keeping the tip on the ball for a few seconds. This keeps the
ball and attached wire hot so as the ball begins to cool, it can draw
metal from the wire. If you remove the torch too quickly the ball
will develop ‘dimples’ because is cannot draw from the wire. This is
the same as having a nice ‘button’ when casting…the button acts as
a source of extra metal for the casting to draw on.
Hope that helps, Cheers from Don at The Charles Bell Studio in
chilly SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2