Wow, Laurie, I follow your progress with interest and admiration!
I’m no expert compared to many here on Orchid, but here’s my two
Is working with copper really that different than silver? Yes! It’s
a lot softer, it’s dirty stuff to solder and not so easy to keep
clean on a finished piece. And unless you have some special solder,
you’ll always see the solder seam.
Any hints tips or tricks that would help with a bezel this large?
Yes - cut the base plate to fit INSIDE the bezel wall so the solder
seam is on the underneath, not at the side. That way, you will have
two flat edges together, even if the base is textured.
a) Form and solder the bezel first, making it higher by the
thickness of the base plate material plus .5mm.
b) Make sure it fits the stone tightly and perfectly, because you
are going to cut the base plate to fit inside the bezel wall and the
solder seam will be underneath, not at the side.
c) Next, lay the bezel on the material you will use for the backing
carefully scribe a line around the inside of the bezel wall. Make
sure you don’t distort the bezel wall at all whilst you do this.
d) Now cut out the backing making sure you saw just outside your
e) Then, very carefully, file the edges until the base plate fits
precisely into the bezel wall. If you do it right, there won’t be
any gaps at all.
f) Now remove the base plate, flux the inside and bottom edge of the
bezel and the inside and sides of the base.
g) Stand the bezel wall on a flat, even surface and slip the base
plate back into the bezel, making sure it goes right to the bottom
so that when you turn it over to look at the underneath, there is a
h) Now you’re ready to pop the whole contraption onto the soldering
station, lay your solder paillons around the inside edges and
solder! Just make sure you get both surfaces equally hot; because the
base plate is thicker, it will take longer to heat than the wall, so
with a big bezel like that, I would warm up the centre area first,
with my torch quite a distance from the material. Once the flux
begins to bubble a bit, the solder will tend to move towards the
centre and away from the edges where you want it to be, telling you
that the base plate is hot enough.
i) Now move the torch to the outside of the work, away from the
centre and angled towards the bottom of the bezel wall, to draw the
solder back to where it should be, then bring the torch in a bit
closer and the solder should flow smoothly into the seam. Because you
have been aiming the torch angled towards the bottom of the wall, the
solder brick will be extra hot and will help the solder flow right
through to the bottom of the seam.
Alternatively, if you have a wire frame and can apply the torch to
the underside of the work, that is even easier.
Should I give up on the copper and use silver and then antique it
with LOS. YES, YES, YES. But not just any old LOS, I suggest you use
Katherine Palochak’s beautiful iridescent patina recipe, which allows
you to control the final colour - and you can achieve a coppery tone
that should suit your piece of Jasper nicely. Here’s a link to the
recipe, still where I first found it.
Do experiment with a few scraps first. By the way, I’m one of those
who uses a few drops of the liver of sulphur solutions used to spray
roses instead of a small lump of LOS. but be warned, both must be
used fresh or you’ll be disappointed.
By the way, I’m a big fan of fitting the base into a bezel and
having the seam at the bottom - that way, even if after time, it
happens that the seam does begin to show, it’s on the underneath!
Good luck, Laurie.