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Torch Fired Enameling

Vicki Hallmark shows how to make the fine silver metal clay leaves in April 2013 Metal Clay Magazine. Leaves are kiln fired and tumbled to polish before fusing to the 24ga Argentium sheet with 20ga wire for the border and stems. These pieces were fabricated using no solder.  To fabricate, coat the entire piece in yellow flux and fire using a torch on a compressed charcoal block. The piece should then be pickled and cleaned thoroughly before enameling. This was wet packed removing any grains on top of wires and metal clay leaves. The enamel is transparent turquoise and torch fired using acetylene/air torch.

Metal Clay Leaves fused to Argentium with torch fired enamel

Metal Clay Leaves fused to Argentium with torch fired enamel

All projects are Argentium 935 sheet and wire with Torch Fired Enamels

All projects are Argentium 935 sheet and wire with Torch Fired Enamels

Continuum Testing

Jewelry Studies Intl was asked by Stuller to test the silver alloy called Continuum. It is a sterling alloy that is over 95% fine silver containing no nickle. I found this metal to be quite hard as compared to some of the other silver alloys I have tested. At JSI, I tested the malleability when I was teaching the metalsmithing class two weeks ago. It was much harder to manipulate with anticlastic metalsmithing and forging it took a bit more work as compared to tho other silver alloys I have tried. I can understand whey they say it would be good for die striking or milling products. The fact that it is harder than most of the silver alloy I have tested makes it the perfect alloy for fabricating clasps and mechanisms. It can be spot soldered like gold. It can be fused, granulated and enameled. It also did well with laser welding.  Making the same clasp, Vasken soldered his while I fused mine.

Box Clasps fabricated in Continuum

Box Clasps fabricated in Continuum

The box clasp on the right is soldered using hard and medium sterling solder, the decorative one on the left has been fused start to finish.

Soldered using Hard & Medium Sterling Solder

Soldered using Hard & Medium Sterling Solder

Vasken fabricated his clasp using hard and medium solder. He did tests first on both an aluminum silicate block and a charcoal block.

Test Samples Soldered with and without coating with Boric Acid

Test Samples Soldered with and without coating with Boric Acid

Vasken found that the best results were to coat with boric acid/alcohol mixture and use Batterns flux for seams and solder while working on the charcoal block rather than aluminum silicate block.

He loved the way it reacted to sawing because it was like working with 14k gold, firm yet easy to cut and can be spot solder as you would with gold.

I fused a the same box clasp start to finish using no boric acid/alcohol except when annealing. I would coat everything in Batterns flux and fuse. The metal fused beautifully. There was no firescale. The fusability was quite good and the metal did not slump when heated to the extreme temperatures of fusing and had no firescale.

Fused Box Clasp

Fused Box Clasp

Vasken pointed out to me that I could now granulate on it since I had not used solder. Results were quite impressive. Teh wire I had extending past the clasp did not slump but was quite rigid.

Granulated Fused Box Clasp

Granulated Fused Box Clasp

I went one step further and did a bit of torch fired enameling on the fused clasp with successful results. There was  bit of black on the bottom that was exposed to the flame, as I had not coated the clasp in any boric acid/alcohol mixture. The black was not a penetrating firescale and was easily removed with fine sandpaper.

Torch Fired Box Clasp

Torch Fired Box Clasp

Back after torch fired enameling. Half was sanded slightly to see if there was firescale. none

Back after torch fired enameling. Half was sanded slightly to see if there was firescale. none

SSterlium on Left, Continuum on Right after pickling

Sterlium on Left, Continuum on Right after pickling

Sterlium on Left, Continuum on Right9 months after casting

Sterlium on Left, Continuum on Right
9 months after casting

I did not find the tarnish resistance of continuum to be quite as good as with Sterlium and the malleability was not as good as with the Sterlium. The castings are fresh from pickling. The second photo shows the pieces after 9 months of sitting on the shelf. Vasken and I find that both of these alloys are superior to traditional sterling.

TORCH FIRED ENAMELING WITH ARGENTIUM

After firing 5 times with torch on a screen. 960 Pro cast pieceTorch firing for the 4th time

I have been experimenting with torch fired enameling on Argentium 935 sheet and 960 Pro cast pieces. We just completed a class at JSI in Torch Fired Enameling with Werner Cronauer. I have been very pleased with the results. The flowers were cast 960 Pro with 18k gold granules fused around the center and then fired the enamels on a wire screen  4  times. Colors stayed true. I did no pickling except  just to make the 18k gold balls clean. The rest required no pickling. The next piece is also 960 Pro cast piece.

This piece was fired 6 times:

Fired 6 timers with a torch. 960 Pro cast piece

Fired 6 timers with a torch. 960 Pro cast piece

The following are projects done by students:

Janise Simmons all 960 Pro cast pieces

Janise Simmons all 960 Pro cast pieces

Janise Simmons

Martha Soto – 960 Pro cast pieces and 935 sheet and wire

Claudia Rush

Claudia Rush- 960 Pro cast pieces in front, 935 sheet in back

Claudia Rush

Claudia Rush- Details -all 960 Pro cast piecesMartha SotoDetail Martha Soto rings

Casting Test Argentium, Sterlium and Continuum

Image

Left to right: Argentium Pro 935 (from Rio Grande), Sterlium (from Stuller), Continuum (from Stuller)

These castings are not pickled. They each cast beautifully and any I think one of them is superior to traditional sterling silver. The Argentium and the Sterlium seem to be more firescale resistant than the Continuum. The Argentium and the Sterlium are very white. The downside of Sterlium for me is the lack of fusing ability. The Sterlium will NOT fuse while the Argentium fuses like a dream. I am able to cast something in sections, fuse them together then granulate.

Casting that was fused together from 2 pieces

Casting in Argentium Pro 935 by a student at JSI done in two sections, then fused together.

fused joint detailDetail of fused joint

One of the advantages of Argentium is the ability to fuse. Because the pieces were fused together rather than soldering, there will never be a seam visible! And the piece can then be granulated since there is no solder used.

CASTING TESTS – ARGENTIUM

I have cast .935 Pro Casting Grain, .935 Regular Casting Grain & .935 Scrap sheet & wire left over from the semester. Here are the results. The raw castings show the most difference as the Pro is the whitest. The Pro casting grain is definitely whiter directly from the flask.

After pickling, you can see a slight difference in color between the three. After wire brushing and polishing, it is very difficult to tell the difference. I cleaned, polished and prepared to granulate on the castings.

I then granulated on each with equally successful results. I first coated each with yellow flux, added the granules, then fused on a charcoal block as usual. There seemed to be no difference.

The liver of sulfur patina was very slow to blacken the Pro. The 935 darkened rapidly and immediately turned black. The scrap was a bit slower and went through stages of golden colors before turning black. The Pro took over twice as long to achieve the dark black as the other two did.

Results were pleasing as I continue to use ALL of the scrap I have as long as I have not soldered. I have previously hammered and formed scrap from an ingot cast into a charcoal block and had very successful results.

Projects for Mechanisms made with Argentium

Multiple solders to create these two projects. I used Med/Hard Argentium Solder.

two of Advanced Mechanisms Class Projects

two of Advanced Mechanisms Class Projects

Steve Fortier’s class work

Hollow forms with Ronda Coryell

Rings class with Ronda Coryell
Rings class with Ronda Coryell
saw peircing class with Vasken Tanielian
saw peircing class with Vasken Tanielian

Earrings Class with Ronda Coryell

Earrings Class with Ronda Coryell

Kate Wolf's class

Kate Wolf’s class