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Soldering Silver Wire on Copper

I love combining metals! One technique that I like to use is to solder sterling silver wire onto sheet copper. Some examples of this are:

copper soldered flower earringsCopper and sterling with green dangles

This technique is tricksy because you have to get the copper really hot with the torch, but not so hot that you melt the silver. It is worth it, though. The end result is a rough but delicate look that allows the silver to really stand out.

Copper and sterling with green dangles

Sadly, I still haven’t figured out which torch I am going to use. I bought one online from a random seller (mistake!) and when it arrived it was not the correct torch! I tried to return it, but their phones have been mysteriously down since my purchase. Hmmmm…. Very suspect! I learned my lesson.

In addition to the torch, there are a bunch of other things that go along with soldering that I have to find or buy. A fire block, a charcoal block, flux, pickle, a pickle pot, etc. Sigh. So many projects on hold.

One of the things I have been thinking about trying is a copper bangle or cuff with the silver details. I like to use Zen Brush to brainstorm. Here is what I have so far:

Copper cuff idea

It wouldn’t be all wobbly, but it is hard to draw on a touch screen! I would have to solder onto a flat sheet and then shape it into the cuff.

What do you think?

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Working With What I Have

Lately, I have discovered that I used the tools in my classroom more than I thought. I am taking a continuous course at the local adult school. I have learned so much, and loved having all of the resources available to me. But now class is out for the summer.

I usually like to work with sheet copper. I have been blessed that my grandmother has a copper roof, and due to a previous repair, has century old copper shingles available for me to use. I clean them, cut and shape them to make many of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

copper dropsflower earringscopper bangle copper plate bracelet copper soldered flower earringsJewelry 253

The problem I am having lately is that many of those pieces require an anvil and many of the forming stakes that I used in class. I was looking online for anvils and stakes for sale and found quickly that they were way out of my price range. See here and here. Sigh. I am going to have to be creative. I have spent a bit too much time online researching DIY jewelry forming ideas. I found this handmade jewelry blog, Create Recklessly, by Melissa Cable. She recommends using a trailer hitch ball as a forming stake. Genius! I can get a stainless steel ball for less than forty dollars! I haven’t had a chance to shop for one yet but updates coming soon! The other tricky part is going to be attaching it to something. Hmmm….

Another shape I have been trying to find is a simple cylinder. I have had some interest in one of my copper bracelets, but I need a round shape to hammer on. After talking to my grandfather, he was generous in offering a scrap end of one of his pieces of scrap metal.

Load Frame Scrap as Mandrel

I can’t use a steel hammer on it, but it works great with my (borrowed) rawhide mallet.

Makeshift Mandrel in ActionI tried to edit out my incredibly cluttered work space in those pictures, oh well. The last picture includes a peek at a current project. It is a different take on one of my other bracelets. Without a rolling mill in the classroom, I am stuck trying to find other ways to texture metal. For this bracelet I experimented with hammering a metal shape to make an indentation on the copper.

Hammering texture on copperI am pretty happy with how it turned out, even if my brother says he sees elephant shapes.

I hope to have pictures of the finished bracelet soon. I’ll keep you posted!

Rebecca