Thursday, January 9, 2014

Simple Silver Soldering: A Start

Since my last post, proclaiming my aim to learn silver soldering, I have spent a lot of time trying. I tried to learn this once before and had miserable results because I just couldn't deal with the flux. So, I decided to start very small and work my way up, hoping to conquer my flux barrier.

copper soldered chain

I soldered this fancy link copper chain and made some earrings to match. The soldering went very well. I used copper solder and no flux because the flux was in the solder and I don't find that I need to flux copper for firescale. Any discoloration readily comes off in the pickle. This was a good exercise for pick soldering where you use a tungsten or titanium pick to pick up the heated solder and bring it to the hot join. I managed to get this together rather easily.

My problem was that I missed a join in a fancy link- there are 2 joins each- and it came apart while I was running it through my polish cloth. So, my next exercise was in doing a repair. The piece was already patinaed. I pickled the new fancy link and a few adjoining it and carefully soldered in the new piece without disturbing the patina or joins on the other links. It was difficult but doable. I'm quite proud of the feat, in fact. My daughter wants this and I'll probably give it to her.

On to silver solder with flux.

I did many a small silver ring for my grandaughter. But, this one is the nicest. I had some scrap from years ago which is 12 or 14g square twisted. It had a lovely patina, but I had to get that off before I could solder. Pickle and hard work did that. I then spent some time trying to line up the join perfectly while keeping the twist continuous. Easier said than done. But, after lots of fidgeting, I got it all together and soldered with a bit of easy silver solder wire and flux. I heated the whole area with the torch, avoiding the ring until the flux stopped bubbling, then I moved in with the torch until the flux went clear. After that, I picked up the heated wire solder with my pick and dropped it on the join. BINGO! A beautiful soldered seam.  

heavy silver soldered ring

I had lots of tools and material on order and in the mail, so I had to use what I had on hand for the next project. I made a little heart pendant- also for my granddaughter.

Silver soldered heart with prefab bail

This turned out ridiculously cute and she loves it. It gave me a chance to use some solder of different hardnesses. For the first join, where the wire meets the curl, I used medium solder and for the bail ring, I used easy solder. The reason being is that if I tried to solder the bail loop with the same solder hardness as the first solder join, it could melt. The idea is to use a progression of solder hardnesses as you work your project, going from hotter melt (hard) down to the lowest melt temp (extra easy).

After I was finished with this I added some texturing and polished it. I was hesitant to hammer around the joins, but I needn't have been.

After playing around with some simple projects, I had mustered the confidence to try a bezel setting. That will be the next blog, though I will need to do that in several parts. I am almost finished with the project now and I took some pictures along the way to share with you my roller coaster ride of ups and downs. 


  1. Congratulations Tela on your soldering successes. That ring seems quite a challenge but you did great! I wish you lots of luck and fun on your new journey and anticipate some beautiful jewellery to come from you. I am really enjoying being able to solder but I also dip back into wirework sometimes for a change and also to look at some of my designs with a fresh pair of eyes.

    Here's to a productive 2014
    All the best, Kristin :)

    1. Thank you so much, Kristin :) You are doing such beautiful work! I hope to do as well as you. I particularly love your finishes which I am learning is quite a challenge for me

      I hope you have a wonderfully productive year, too. :)

  2. How wonderful! It's fun isn't it? That heart is adorable. I've been going through all those steps too. Baby steps at first and then suddenly you'll find that you graduated into more complicated pieces. I just completed my first pendant and was so excited. Thrilled was more like it that I was able to accomplish it with out too much grief! It did take days to make though. Please take a sneak peak at my pendant. it's always so much fun to learn new things and accomplish them.

    Have fun - Kate

    1. What a beautiful piece, Kate!!! I love how you finished it and all the texture. I'm afraid my first one has many warts, but I'm proud of it just the same.

      Something must be in the air because I have found sooooo many people all beginning on this journey at about the same time. It's really exciting to see the many directions people are going with it.

      I took a look at your shop and thought- Boy, she's been busy! Everything looks great! I hope you continue to have many successes. :)

  3. Beautiful job Tela.... you are so very talented.... everything you do turns out beautiful.... so don't worry about you being a success at it.... looks like to me you are already there.... lol
    Love the heart.... Beautiful... job well done.

    1. Thank you so much for your confidence. :) My first bezel project has turned into a big ordeal, but I can't call it a failure. It has been a positive learning experience. Always look on the bright side, right? :)

  4. Tela, I just know you are having a great time making these new discoveries. What amazes me is how you soldered the twisted ring so beautifully. That is a challenge to do that and yet you took it on very gracefully. I can't wait to see more of what you come up with as you continue to solder and combine your techniques.


    1. Thank you Susan :) I have been neck deep in the whole smiting thing. I have gotten dvds to watch, I have been scouring for resources and tools, I have been practicing.... it's been all consuming! But, fun. :)


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