After my unsatisfactory results with copper solder last week, I looked around the internet for some advice. Turns out a couple people who reviewed Rio Grande’s product had some things to say. (Note: as far as I know, none of the solder I tested came from Rio Grande.) Apparently, the thing to do is make your join, pickle it, polish it up a bit, and then slowly heat it up again to make the copper color happen. Really? Had to try it.
Here’s what I had after a little polishing last week. Note the crappy gray color:
And here’s what I have now, since I heated the test pieces up again Monday:
Well! That is much better, especially where the solder is thinnest. I guess there’s hope, although you really should be careful about application. I’ll keep practicing with what I have–I’ve got an entire tube of it, after all.
Of course, you can still just copper plate silver solder. And then throw it in the tumbler to polish it. Like this!
It’s all waxed to preserve the shiny-shiny, but I’ll be interested to see how long it takes to darken. At that time I think I’ll just polish up the highlights. (Translation: dear God, I do not want to use liver of sulfur in the house again.)
So with that out of the way, and with my reputation as an experimenter sealed, I moved on to something I really want to do for my own satisfaction. Remember this pendant I made at the end of beginners’ class, nearly a year ago?
I still have the other green aventurine from the two-pack I bought. I’d always hoped I could do the project again someday when I was more experienced and get it right. Now is that time. Here’s what I have so far:
My husband says it looks better already. I’m not sure, although it only took me two tries to get the bezel soldered down all the way around (this is a bigger piece than I’m used to making, and it’s hard to judge what I need.) I cut and tried to form a piece of square wire to go around the bezel (to be stamped later) but, unfortunately, had cut it just a bit too short. Not to fear: I can always use it for something else. Like a better bail, for instance. So, I’ll keep at this as class time allows. We seem to keep running low on gas at one solder station or the other, so while I’m waiting for a torch, there’s time for . . .
. . . more fold forming! This week’s lesson: hammering steel wire into copper, annealing, and bending into interesting shapes. Of course, I learned this when I was working on my copper suitcase (really gotta finish that someday), but some new possibilities were suggested to me with these basic shapes:
I haven’t taken the time to make these dramatic yet, but more shaping and even hammering/texturing along the creases could get interesting. First, I want to soak these in the vinegar/ammonia/wood solution I still have to get all the oxide off. It’s annoying when that stuff flakes off all over your tools.
I even got around to making another “pillow” pendant. I thought I could make one just like last week’s, only a little neater, but it ended up quite different. Fold-forming is like that, full of surprises! I used a smaller dapping punch and made more dimples, which probably counted for a lot. Also, my piece was probably a more perfectly square shape to begin with. And the heat patina . . . wow! Didn’t see this coming.
Last week’s on left, this week’s on right.
Here’s the back. The ends of the new one were short enough that I could just hammer them down reasonably neatly and safely. I bet if I polished it up, the new one would be a great reversible pendant!
One last thing. (Damn, I was busy this week, wasn’t I?) Remember this texture I made with a claw hammer last year and really liked?
I decided that had to be a cuff bracelet, so I cut off a strip of my 20 gauge copper and got to work. After all the hammering, annealing, sanding, and buffing, here’s what I’ve got now:
It’s still dirty with buffing compound, and has a few rough spots to be finished, but I think it’s working out! I’d planned to roll back the ends to make loops for a heavy square wire clasp (attached on one side, hooked on the other; squeeze to release.) Maybe I’ll leave it as-is . . . although I’d definitely have to take down those uncomfortable ends . . . something to think about!