This is a story about the silver used in this pendant.
The story begins with a scrap jar full of tiny sterling silver leftovers. Check out the 1/21/2011 blog post for a snapshot of my typical scrap. On this day, I also raided my jewelry box for old sterling silver jewelry that was broken or unwearable, and topped off my scrap heap with those.
Let's just take a moment to say DON'T try projects at home that require a torch unless someone teaches you how. This isn't a lesson! :-/ I will write about some fun recycling projects later in the series that you can try, ok?
So this is approximately what the melting process looked like (file photo):
A heavy crucible is coated with a borax mixture that creates a glass coating when fired. Scraps of sterling silver are dropped into the crucible a few pieces at a time while the whole thing is hit with a very hot torch. The pieces start melting quickly, but it takes quite awhile to melt the entire bunch of scrap into one big molten puddle.
Next, the crucible is tipped over a fireproof pan to let the molten silver flow out. It starts to cool and harden right away. The flow is adjusted out across the pan to avoid making a mountain of silver, since the goal is to create a sheet.
The resulting sheet is very thick, so the next step is to run it through a rolling mill a gazillion times until it's thin enough to use. This process hardens the metal again, so after every couple trips through the mill the metal is annealed -- or heated with a torch until it's pliable again.
This is a cheater picture of the rolling mill process. The piece is already finished to 18 gauge and cut for the project, but you get the idea. The dials at the top control the gap size between the rollers, and the handle on the right gets the rollers moving. The piece is squashed as it goes through.
The final sheet of sterling silver looked like this. It's already cut apart, but I put it back together for you to see. It measures about 3.75" x 3.5" at its longest points. The upper right piece is a partial photo of the pendant, above, so you can see where the silver fit. I thought that corner of the natural poured metal was beautiful, so I cut it off as-is and worked it into my design.
The two vertical strips in the middle will be rings someday. As for the rest, who knows? I'll keep you posted!
Sue Lacy Wired
This began as a hobbyist's blog.
Over time it became a quest to support & connect metalsmiths around the globe who use foldforming techniques in their work.
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