Wednesday, August 5, 2015

First attempt at making a silver sheet ingot

Carol Dekle-Foss
If you use silver or copper in your jewelry designs, at some point you will have to figure out what to do with your scraps. I've amassed about 10 ounces of sterling silver scrap and a MASSIVE amount of copper in about a 3 years time. It never appealed to me to turn in my silver scraps because I wouldn't be getting the amount invested in return. Especially now with silver prices so low and possibly dropping even more.

I've wanted to melt my silver into sheet ingots for rolling for awhile now, but honestly, I was too nervous. I had visions of it spilling and melting a hole in my toe! 

But.. I started thinking it's time. Time to do something with all the scraps I've accumulated and put them to use. So, with my husband taking pictures (making sure I don't burn the house down) I melted my first ingot yesterday! Yay! 

Here is how I did it and what I used. This is in no way a tutorial because I am still learning myself, but I wanted to share my results and a few things I learned along the way.

My supplies. 
The Ingot mold and Crucible I purchased at PMC Supplies on Ebay. I like the reversible one because you can make nice thick ring shanks. If you want to melt copper too, make sure you get the right ingot mold and crucible. 

Ohhh pretty flame. It's Photoshopped, I couldn't help myself! You get the idea though, you'll need a nice big beautiful flame!

The torch I use is a Smith Air/Acetylene torch, and for this project I used the #3 tip. 

First, I heated up the crucible and ingot mold. 
I then filled my crucible with a few pieces of silver and Borax. I guess Borax acts like a flux to help melt the metal quicker. After it started to melt, I added more pieces of silver.

Here we go!

When it started to get molten, I turned the crucible more to the side to get ready to pour. Anyone else see the creepy skeleton face?!?!!! WTH! Seriously. freaky.

And..pour quickly!

Ummm. yeah..epic fail. I poured too slowly and it created this interesting looking blob. Gotta pour fast!

I just reheated and poured again and got this. Much better. Although, I should have taken advantage of making the ingot shape smaller and it would have been a better shape. Oh well, next time!

So yeah..I made a boot. Hahahaha! That's okay, it's 20 gauge thick and will work well for backplates etc. Any suggestions on how to prevent cracking when rolling would be greatly appreciated. I did anneal it about 5 times. Maybe more annealing? 

What else have I been up to? I have a 2 day event coming up in September, so I have been preparing for that by making tons of earrings. 
I still have about 25 pairs to make, but here is what I've done so far.

I made these simple sterling silver earrings priced to sell at $18.00 each.  We will have to see how they do.

I then played with mixed metals and shapes by soldering together brass stampings to textured copper rounds.

I made these from some of my favorite ceramic beads my husband and I made.

I also played with a new shape and pattern for ceramic beads.

So that's what I've been up to! So what about you? Do you have tons of metal scrap just lying around? Have you ever done a metal scrap return? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading!


Patti Vanderbloemen said...

I have wanted to try this with my IMMENSE amount of silver scraps, but but I only use a butane torch in my basement studio (I have 2 fire extinguishers, 'cause you just never know)! I still get nervous when I use paste solder, due to the initial flame! It does not stop me from using it, but the sweaty palms never seem to go away! I am a huge fan of recycling EVERYTHING - in fact, my recycle bin always has 3 times the trash as my regular bin!

I think your results are FANTASTIC!!! That is quite a bit of sheet!! Wish I could offer advice on the sheet cracking, but I am having nothing but problems with my rolling me (still new to me and I am having major far, not my favorite tool in the shop)!

Love your earrings and your ceramics - best of luck at your show!!! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you posted this! I recently went through my silver scraps and had quite a nice little pile, weighed it and compared the weight to prices right now. SIGH.....not a good return. I toyed with the idea of melting it and making a sort of "nugget" I could use in a rustic piece. This gives me a some different options.

Carol Dekle said...

That tip is so big, I only use it to anneal large pieces of metal. It makes this popping and hissing sound when you turn it off that freaks me out! It's just the flame losing air, but still. Metalwork can be so exciting sometimes! The rolling mill takes practice for sure. See the line on the boot? I rolled too tight and got the metal stuck! I had to back it out so I didn't break my handle! Thank you Patti:)

Carol Dekle said...

Glad it was helpful Lee! Another cool way to use up scrap is with a shot plate. Monsterslayer carries two here: Silver prices are great for buying right now, not selling for sure!

Barry said...

CK - well done - great first effort. Don't worry about the cracking - just cut it off and incorporate it into an art piece or melt it again next time around. Go well. B

Carol Dekle said...

Thanks B

stacilouise said...

wow! that is just awesome! I would love to try that, but my studio is just not big enough, nor equipped for it at this point. someday................... fire and molten metal just look so plain old fun

design your own welding helmet said...

Informative post lot of good work for that it really helping us for the people there is lot of learning and knowledgeable for it.

Unknown said...

I love the little silver earrings you made for $18. Are they etched or roller printed?

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