Monday, June 30, 2014

"Marriage of Metals" technique & tutorial

Carol Dekle-Foss
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.

Step one
Create the shapes you want on a computer software program such as Photoshop and print on regular paper.

Step two
Select your sheet metals, making sure they are all the same gauge. For the earrings I used sterling silver, copper and brass.

Step three
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.

Step four

 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.
Step five
Place sandpaper on a flat surface and run metal edges over it lightly to remove burs and even out the metals edges. 
Step six

Place metal pieces on flat surface and line up making sure every piece touches with no gaps for best results. Also for earrings, position pieces to form a mirror image.

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.

Step seven
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 the front of the pieces after pickling. You can see the solder flowed through in some areas. The back is a hot mess, as you can see in the below pics.
Step eight
Place paper shape onto metal and mark with sharpie. Then cut out with jewelers saw.

Step nine
 Sand edges with a belt sander or a bastard file.
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.

My first pair of earrings finished in class.

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!

pickle pot
solder, medium
different sheet metals
geometric shapes on paper
sandpaper, various grits
permanent sharpie, fine tip
jewelers saw
Photoshop or similiar program
Sheet metals
metal ruler
sander or bastard file
metal shear
flat soldering surface
safety goggles
dust mask


The Dark Spot said...

Love this technique and your work. I will be trying something like this. It's so cool!

Carol Dekle said...

Thank you Mell! I hope you have fun experimenting! Love to see what you come up with.

stacilouise said...

awesome tutorial! I love the look of mixed metals

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I cannot wait to see you next post! I have soldered quite a bit and when I think I have it down, I realize I am still a beginner. I think part of the problem is patience! Thanks for the tool recommendations. I think I just might need to get some to save my hands from going down arthritis road any faster than they are!

Carol Dekle said...

Thanks Staci! I love the mixed metal look too. MaryAnn, I know what you mean. It took me so long to get just the basics. I was using a tiny torch with acetylene and oxygen tanks, so I constantly melted my work. Now I use a bigger torch with only acetylene. The trick is to heat the WHOLE piece as fast as possible so you don't get firescale. If the flux turns black usually its all over and the solder won't flow! It can be frustrating:)

Mystic Indigo said...

I, too, will want to give this a go in the next few weeks! You make it look so easy!! Great tutorial...and love the designs!

Carol Dekle said...

Yay Stacie! I hope more designers try this technique. Its so much fun!

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