I learned this cool technique a couple months ago in my intermediate metalsmith class. I just LOVE it! I have always been attracted to geometric patterns and also mixing different metals. This technique was perfect for me to explore in my jewelry designs. These earrings are my latest creation, and for my first Boot Camp post, I'm going to show the readers of LMAJ how I made them. Tools & Materials on the bottom of the page.
Create the shapes you want on a computer software program such as Photoshop and print on regular paper.
Select your sheet metals, making sure they are all the same gauge. For the earrings I used sterling silver, copper and brass.
With a triangle, sharpie and a ruler, mark your shapes on the metal using the printout as a guide. Make sure your lines are a bit larger due to loss when cutting out and sanding. You will only need the basic geometric shapes for now.
Cut out the sheet metal. I prefer a metal shear for the most accurate cuts. Here is my throatless shear from harbor freight. It's great for cutting accurate lines, and saves me tons of time in the studio.
Place sandpaper on a flat surface and run metal edges over it lightly to remove burs and even out the metals edges.
Next, flux and then with the flux brush pick up solder pieces and place where joins meet. In the pic below you can see the solder pieces positioned. I cut them in thin rectangle shapes to try and prevent solder from flowing all over the metal, and hopefully to only go in the cracks of the joins. Keep in mind, solder flows wherever the heck it wants too anyway.
Solder the pieces with a fairly large flame. Copper and brass have a higher melting temperature so you want to focus your flame on those pieces and avoid the sterling silver so you don't melt it. I use the Smith torch purchased from Cyberweld. This is where my teacher referred me to purchase mine in case you are in the market for one. NOTE: Soldering is a technique you have to practice to master. It takes time and patience, so don't be too hard on yourself if you are having difficulty. I know I struggled for a long time. If you want to learn I recommend taking a metalsmith class, or find a mentor to teach you the basics. If you have specific questions feel free to contact me and I will try to help! Also if you haven't discovered Nancy Hamilton you are in for a treat! She is so much fun to learn from. Here is a youtube video from her on soldering basics.
Here is my sander from Harbor Freight. Again, a major time saver, and you can't beat the price. I hate filing and will avoid it at all costs.
Next, place the piece on top of the other and line up. Mark with sharpie and then saw out with jewelers saw.
Final finishing techniques
Ok, here are the two pieces. One is the front, and one the back. Yucky solder flow right? The next steps are all finishing techniques. So for my next post, which is scheduled for this Wednesday, I will show how I got the pieces to look like the above earrings! Plus some awesome techniques to speed up your finishing.
Here are some other designs utilizing the above technique.
For this necklace I used a lentil bead from Heather Powers of Humblebeads. I fell in love when I first saw it!
She was inspired by the Vincent Van Gogh Sunflower painting below.
I used the "marriage of metals" technique and combined brass and bronze to form the vase. I then soldered it to a solid copper backing.
I love this technique and feel the design options are endless. So what do you think? Is it something that you might want to try? I would love to hear your thoughts!
different sheet metals
geometric shapes on paper
sandpaper, various grits
permanent sharpie, fine tip
Photoshop or similiar program
sander or bastard file
flat soldering surface