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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Life as a silversmith for a weekend

I have been doing a lot of beading in the recent times and I had also setup jewelry stalls at multiple events during this month of October. I felt like I was doing the same thing as a routine and I wanted to step it up a bit. So I decided to try making something from scratch, which meant I had to learn sawing, filing, soldering etc. When I searched online, I found one place which was offering Introduction to sliversmithing workshop for this weekend. I signed up for it on Friday, it was so impromptu. 

They said, just come in and we will give you the materials. As promised they gave us a piece of Copper for the first day yesterday. The task for the day was to make a brooch out of copper. We cut out little shapes out of paper and stuck it to copper piece with rubber cement. I chose butterfly shape. I cut it out sawing all around and broke about 4 blades in the process. Seriously it's tough sawing these shapes. 
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We then had to cut out inside shapes, for which, we had to first drill a hole and saw the remaining part. Then we did embossing using metal pattern stamps as they call it. Then lifted the center, the belly of butterfly a little bit again by different embossing technique (using wood at the back). The next step was to solder the pin at the back. Even that we made from scratch.Soldering was a huge process. You have to de-oxidize it first, called flushing, then you have to apply flux, called fluxing. Then you have to put solder (there are easy, medium, hard types, you have to know the right one to pick), then use the fire to solder it to the right temperature , otherwise the metal will anneal. It took a good 8 hours to finish this piece. Then we had to put it in a tumbler (rotating shaft with moving silver/steel pieces that add shine) over night to get the shine. My  least favorite part of the whole thing was sawing and the most favorite part is soldering.

Day 2 task was to make a pendant. I thought since we learnt so much yesterday, it will be relatively easier. We used fine silver and sterling silver today and a stone set in a bezel. 

We used a silver strip as a bezel for the stone, cut it to just fit the stone and then soldered it. Then took a fine silver wire and then made a circle out of it and then cut it and soldered it. The first was the outer circle and then the inner bezel. We then took a silver piece and our task was to solder these pieces to the silver piece. We had to then cut the piece just by the round shape. We added some pattern to the silver piece and then added some silver dots. This whole thing took another 8 hours. We had to flush, flux, file using filer and sand paper and solder so many times till it looked decent. Attaching the dots the pendant was using sweat soldering technique. There is a silver hook we added at the back that you cannot see, that too had a different soldering technique called right angle soldering.  

There are so many new terms that I learnt just this weekend.  I was joking with the teacher saying she should do a trivia at the end to check how many people remember any of these words. But I should say she was very patient and took the time to explain every little detail.