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Summary of how to fuse Argentium


#1

Was: Casting Argentium using Delft clay?

Hi,

I think that you should try fusing the rings. Faster and easier than
casting. And, no firescale with AS.

Argentium Sterling is wonderfully easy to fuse. My understanding of
why AS is easier to fuse than Fine Silver is that because FS is a
pure metal, it has a very short temperature range at which it melts
and fuses. Alloys have wider ranges of melting temperatures, and AS
has a very wide range of temperatures at which it melts and fuses.
The large temperature range makes AS fairly “forgiving” for fusing,
compared to most other silver alloys.

Here is a summary of how to fuse AS, based on the way I do it, and
what I know of that Ronda does differently. Though this should help
get you started on fusing Argentium Silver, I strongly recommend
Ronda Coryell’s DVDs on this topic.

I welcome input from Ronda, Nancy Howland, Susan Thornton, or any
other experienced fusers. As with most processes, there is more than
one “right” way.

Summary Of How To Fuse Argentium Silver:

[] Prepare the joint so that the metal is clean, and meets well.

[] Flux the joint.

  • My favorite flux for this is Rio Grande’s My-T-Flux, but
    Battern’s works too, and when I taught in England last summer, I
    thought that Auflux worked fine.

  • Though it is possible to fuse dirty metal that does not touch
    well, without flux, those are not ideal conditions for
    consistent success.

[] Use a heat-reflective soldering surface.

– My favorite is solderite; Ronda’s favorite is charcoal.
Honeycomb blocks and firebricks are also quite heat reflective,
but the rough surfaces they have may have an effect on the
surface of the AS.

– It is best to use a block that is used only for AS, to avoid
contaminating the surface, thus preserving the
tarnish-resistance.

[] Do what is necessary for you to see the joint well when it flows.

– I like to set things up so that the joint will be near my eye
level. I do this by raising the soldering surface, or lowering
the chair, or both.

– I like to wear a magnifier so that I can see the joint well.

– I like lots of light, but Ronda likes to dim the lights. What
is right for you is what works best for you.

[] Heat the areas adjacent to the joint.

– Be sure to use a large enough flame. I find that it is better
to use a larger flame quickly than a too-small flame for too
long.

– Watch the fluxit is a good indicator of temperature.

– Here is something I learned from Ronda Coryell: When the flux
separates into tiny droplets, then you know that the metal is
almost at fusing temperature.

[] When the metal fuses, the joint looks to me like it has been
soldered—I see a “fillet” of molten metal at the joint. That is
what I watch for, whether I am fusing a joint in a ring, or a granule
to sheet. The surface of the silver often melts and looks liquid.
Some people say it looks like mercury.

[] Do not be afraid to bring it back to fusing temperature, in order
to be sure that you have a good joint. It is also perfectly ok to
re-do the whole thing after pickling and rinsing well, if the joint
did not fuse well.

[] Remember that AS is fragile when red-hot.

– Allow it to cool to at least black-hot before touching it
with tweezers.

– Both quenching and air-cooling are okay.

[] If you quench, it is okay if the metal sizzles when it hits the
water. If there is a more explosive reaction, then the metal was too
hot, which may make the metal more brittle.

[] Fully air-cooled silver is not much harder than silver that has
been quenched at black heat, in my opinion. Therefore, I recommend
patience before quenching.

[] Pickle, rinse well, and finish the piece. (See other articles for
finishing tips to maximize tarnish-resistance.)

Fusingly yours,
Cindy
www.cynthiaeid.com


#2

Hi Cindy,

I’d like to chime in… I agree-it’s SO easy to fuse argentium. With
thick metal you may need to fuse one side then flip it to fuse the
other. Example: I fused a 12ga square wire for a bangle and need ed
to flip it to get the whole thing fused properly. If argentium is
fused right even granules won’t fall off when bent. Yes, I made a
ring shank that was pierced and granulated while flat. Then I bent
this flat sheet into a ring, and not one granule fell off! Then I
fused it together! I even tried to make the granules fall off and
they wouldn’t! Thank you Cindy and Ronda for being the pioneers for
this metal! This is the most fun metal I’ve worked with since 22kt.!

Patricia
www.tschetterstudio.com