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Working with Argentium pointers


#1

Was: Best place to buy sterling wire

Hello Teresa Perry,

I hope Cynthia Eid chimes in on all your questions about Argentium
(AS), but I’ll tackle a few.

The AS I’ve purchased came out to be maybe a dollar more/oz than
standard sterling. If you had an offer to swap weight for weight
sterling for AS, that was a deal. I think I’ll check on H&S to see
if I could do that.

Does anyone know, is it essential to use Argentium sterling
solder, or can you get away with using regular sterling solders? 

You can use regular sterling solders on AS - before AS solders were
developed, there was no other option. But it’s best to limit use to
easy (medium, if you’re careful) solder because AS begins to slump
at lower temps than sterling. Frankly, I use AS solder on all
sterling. It flows nicely and the color match holds up (tarnish
resistance, ya know). I need to send all my regular sterling solders
in for refining, as I don’t use them any more.

Is there is a difference working with patinas on Argentium
Sterling? 

Yes, it takes longer. LOS will patina AS - hotter is faster. I have
not tried for a deep black over a large surface, so cannot comment
there.

Also interested to know if it forges as well as Sterling; as in
raising, as well as wire forging and such. I imagine the
crystalline structure would be somewhat different, but is it so
different to make any difference in, say, how often you anneal? 

No experience in raising AS - Cynthia seems to have no trouble
though. AS does not work harden as quickly as sterling, so need to
anneal is less frequent.

Is there the same firescale issues, can you raise the fine silver
layer like you can with Sterling depletion guilding? 

The beauty of AS is that there is NO firescale - no need to deplete
for a fine silver surface.

Can you enamel on Argentium? 

No experience here.

How well does it take Keum Boo? 

No experience here, but I have seen AS pieces with Keum Boo
application.

Hope that helps. Trying not to tread on the input from those more
experienced than I!

Judy in Kansas, where it promises to be a lovely day, but dampish
tomorrow. Fall has fell.


#2

Hello Teresa,

I’ll chime in on the forging of AS as that’s exclusively what I do.
I find that it’s a much better alloy to forge. I can go for much
longer times without annealing, it moves faster and smoother. I forge
wire from 4ga down to 12ga and absolutely love it. I rarely ever
anneal any more, and with standard sterling, had to anneal constantly
for what I do.

Have fun!

Valerie


#3

Thank you, Judy, for helping Teresa. I had not noticed the thread
when it was under a different heading. I skim the topics, and only
read the ones that really call to me—so much to do, so little time,
you know… Your answers were all very good. I only need to amplify
where you were not sure.

I have no problem oxidizing AS—I usually use commercial
solutions—all over, or in areas—no problem either way.

I love Argentium Sterling for ALL metal forming process----raising,
forging, fold forming,… In fact, I am currently planning a
workshop on Forging Argentium Sterling for Jewelry that will be at
Metalwerx in February. After forging some samples, I’ll demonstrate
fusing, and people can try fusing onto their forgings. Then, after
some more forging (demos and work time) I’ll demonstrate soldering,
so that people can attach findings.

Regarding enameling, the answer is that AS970 works best for that (I
think Rio Grande has it in sheet, wire, and casting grain). Folks on
the Enameling Forum say that they enamel on it using the same
technique as they use on fine silver.

If you check the archives, I responded recently about Kum Boo. The
only thing different, really, is that it only needs to be annealed
and pickled once prior to application of the gold foil.

Gotta get some sleep. Hope this helps!

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#4
Is there is a difference working with patinas on Argentium
Sterling? 

Yes, it takes longer. LOS will patina AS - hotter is faster. I have
not tried for a deep black over a large surface, so cannot comment
there.

Liver of Sulphur does a great job if hot. For a really black/black,
I use Silver Black from Otto Frei. Rio Grande also has a Magic Black
that works well.

Also interested to know if it forges as well as Sterling; as in
raising, as well as wire forging and such. I imagine the
crystalline structure would be somewhat different, but is it so
different to make any difference in, say, how often you anneal? 

I just taught a class in Anticlastic Metalsmithing in Switzerland.
The Germans were hesitant to try the Argentium. They had a choice of
working in Copper, Sterling, or Argentium. By the end of 5 days,
everyone was choosing to work in Argentium. The NO FIRESCALE
properties of Argetnium fascinated them. But the malleable properties
were what sold them on it. I find that it moves more like 18k. A real
pleasure to hammer with!!

Is there the same firescale issues, can you raise the fine silver
layer like you can with Sterling depletion guilding? 

The beauty of AS is that there is NO firescale - no need to deplete
for a fine silver surface.

Totally agree here. I recently posted some Electron Microscope
slides of metal where I did everything I could to try and MAKE
firescale. None. here is a link to the photos:

http://www.rondacoryell.com/_main/api/gallery/gallery.cfm?id=8

How well does it take Keum Boo? 

I just had great success with Kuem Boo on Argentium using a torch on
a charcoal block. I did not deplete the sheet. I simply annealed it
to the nice white color it gets, then after cooling, added the gold
foil. Heated with torch until I could see it was hot enough,
burnish, heat, burnish, heat. If you overheat, the gold can sink into
the background.

Ronda Coryell