Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Confess: I'm Ascared of Silver

Yes, it is a word. At least according to The Free Dictionary. I'll take their definition a step further. Being a Southerner, I can say that the word is generally used to denote a silly fear. A child is ascared of the boogieman. I am ascared of silver. Sterling silver, in general; Argentium silver in particular. I know it won't hurt me and that it is an irrational fear, but I'm ascared nonetheless.

Yesterday, I spent the day trying to save a piece full of the expensive, shiny stuff. I was playing around with the torch and some Argentium and managed the difficult (for my newbie self) task of fusing big silver balls to a 20g wire. I managed. That gave me lots of confidence. Confidence that was soon crushed.

In my excitement and zeal, I put the stone in my setting backasswards. I didn't notice till I got most of the way finished- in other words, too late. My precious beads of carefully fused metal were now completely opposite of where they should be on the stone. Then, nearly completed, I realized that I didn't leave enough wire for a respectably large enough bail for the big stone. By then, I was pretty disgusted and frustrated. I cut the wires off. Yes, I did. I was frustrated and cut them off. What in the world was I thinking??

What I ended up with was a very respectable, upside down stone with lovely little gobs of silver holding it in along with some pretty, coveted pattern wire. Crap. Maybe, I could make a pin? Maybe, I could use the wire for another stone. Maybe.... whatever. I took it apart. I annealed the metal. I put the stone in right way round. I got it all zipped up again and even had a loop of wide pattern wire left to affix a bail to.  Then... I broke the damn loop. Guess, I shoulda annealed it again.

That was a lot of silver to mess up. :(

I didn't even bother to get a picture of the final attempt.

Today, I decided to do a straight up wrap to take my mind off the torch. I picked up a big, beautiful Andean Pink Opal that had been beckoning me. I fully intended to do this in silver. Then I got cold feet. I got a cold sweat. I got ascared. I wimped out and reached for copper. The whole time I was making it, I was thinking- I'll just redo this in silver. No problem. No problem, at all. 

If you look real close, you can see that I ran out of wire on the back of the bail. I really wasn't concerned because, after all, I'm redoing this in silver.

I have publicly stated on a number of occasions that I am redoing this, so I know that I will. It is my little way of getting past my fear.

But, honestly, don't you sometimes feel like when you are working with silver that everything goes wrong? It does for me. When I use copper, I'm a freestyle wrapper. I like to pull wire off the spool and GO. When I use silver, I second guess myself and end up screwing up. In the wrap above, I didn't even measure or mark. Everything just came together. Not so with silver. I have no problem with the actual workability of silver. I just get overly cautious and ascared.

Did I mention that I'm redoing this in silver?
Update 10:30 PM EST

I did it!! I'm not thrilled with the bail, but I did it. At first, I was going to leave the sterling silver raw, then I gave it a patina instead.

Huge Rare Genuine Andean Pink Opal Antique Silver Deco Style
Clicking this image will open it in my store in a new tab.


  1. I feel you being ascared. When I first started wire work, I did everything in argentium. How silly was that. Then the prices went way up and I fell in love with copper. Now I too am ascared of silver and argentium...I make more mistakes, I cut the wire too close so not to waste then end up using more because I cut it too close. I think the moral is to relax with the metal we are using.

    I am so sorry for all of the problems with the turquoise day you will reuse the wire.

    The opal is gorgeous and is calling for the silver. Relax, take a deep breathe, take your time and don't cut any wires until you are absolutely sure. This will look gorgeous in silver!!

    1. Thanks Christine :) Well, I got it done in silver. I practically held my breath the whole time. This is a big stone and that was a lot of silver. Yeah, when I'm relaxed, things go like clockwork. Maybe, silver will drop again and I won't have to hold my breath.

  2. Tela,

    I have the same troubles with silver -- I'm super careful, so of course, that means more mistakes.

    Your silver wire wrap is gorgeous, though! The patina is perfect with the pink stone. I'm sorry the turquoise one gave you so much trouble. Sadly, some pieces are like that. One thing I do to comfort myself is remember that silver can be recycled -- it can be melted down into interesting shapes, or shipped to Rio Grande for credit. I hung on to some silver for 10 years, so when I turned it in I miiiight have made a small profit.

    Of course, this doesn't take away all of the urge to bawl when a piece doesn't turn out. Just some.

    1. Yes, Sarah- it kinda feels like the fish that got away. I don't mind, though. It was a learning process and like you say, it can be recycled. Knowing that doesn't make it any easier for me to waste silver, though.

      Thanks for the compliment on the opal. I just love that stone and gray and pink go so well together. For some reason they remind me of an animal friendly angora sweater.


  3. Love it in the silver patina. Well breathe!

    1. LOL! It's funny to say, but I think at a few points, I really was holding breath. LOL! I feel much better now.

  4. Tela, you had me giggling with you story. I'm sorry it didn't turn out for you. It can be pretty disappointing. But, OMG! The silver one is beautiful. I thought it was beautiful without the patina but when I saw that, OMG! I so love the elegance and simplicity of your style.

    1. Thanks, Kate :) I'm glad you got a giggle- I can laugh about it now, too. I don't know why in the world I cut that wire!!! Oh well, win some, lose some...

  5. Gorgeous wrap on the opal! I love the woven bail.

    I am with you on being scared of silver! I spent $80 on a 3" x 6" piece of silver sheet and so far I've only made one thing with it. I had several things planned but always chicken out and go back to copper. It's a lot of money down the drain if you mess up a piece of sheet silver. As a result I've gotten pretty decent at soldering copper which is supposed to be more difficult to work with. If you have to redo something 3 times in copper it doesn't cost a lot so it encourages experimentation. I'm a little less chicken about using silver wire (but not much).

    1. Kathy, so glad to hear from you! I am so in love with your work! Yeah, silver is getting so high it kinda puts a damper on creativity. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling like this. It's a good thing that I love copper equally as well. It's just that some things really call for silver.

      I've heard copper is more difficult to solder, esp where the color is concerned. I haven't tackled that, but I will in time. I hope to be as good as you are. That new diopside piece on CWJ is meticulous and beautiful!! I keep going back to look at it. Simplicity at its finest.

  6. Okay, Tela, now we know how tough you really are. You had your ascared experience with silver, picked yourself up off of the proverbial floor and dusted off your hands and then picked up some more silver!! And look at the outcome!! Wowza!! That pink beauty looks like it came right out of a 1930s Art Deco/Nouveau movie. I have to say that I think that this lovely is probably my favorite piece that you have created. The design is incredibly yummy!!


  7. Hi Susan!! You are such a doll!! I AM pretty stubborn about some things. I knew if I said I was going to do it, I'd be forced to do it, so I bucked up and stepped up to the plate. LOL! I'm pleased as punch that it came out or it would be awhile before I braved silver again. Thanks for your enthusiasm, as always. :)

  8. Tela, this is absolutely divine! I love the opal with the patinated silver!!!

    I, too, am ascared of silver. I started out making everything out of sterling. Of course, everything turned out pretty hideous, I was a TOTAL beginner. And now, I am wiser, and totally ascared of silver. I can't bear the idea of ruining any more than I already have, lol!!!

    1. Hi Arya and thank you :)

      I'm working on a REALLY complicated piece right now. I want it to be in silver, but I don't know if it will come out alright. So, I'm doing it in copper, which means- if it goes right- I'll probably never redo it in silver because it it is so difficult. I wish I could just use silver to start with, but I can't bring myself to do it. :( I'm too ascared! LOL!


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