Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wire and Fire - Part 4

Loop the Loop

This is 16 gauge wire, wrapped around a large dowel for a mandrel, and the ends cut with a flush cutter.

Have seen some use the jeweler's saw to cut the loops off the mandrel but haven't had good luck doing it that way. But when using the flush cutter, unless it's a higher end cutter that gives a flush cut on both sides of the wire, it's important to cut both ends squared off cleanly. Even using a file to get the ends really flat is useful and needed sometimes.

The two ends of the loops must touch each other, even have pressure against each other. The loops in the photo have not been closed to each other, see the gap in between? The fusing will not fill a gap like that, the wire must be touching really tight and close.

There are a couple of jump ring tricks to use to get the links closed really tight.

Have found that it's easier to fuse small loops closed first, then put larger loops through and fuse them after. Trying to fuse a small loop with another loop joined is too hard to do.

Plan how the loops will go together, and first fuse closed all the first set of loops, leaving some open to use to join the others together later. Put the closed loops on the firebrick with the opening away from you at twelve o'clock position on the brick. You will always know where the opening is, and you will be facing the flame away from yourself.

The hottest part of the torch flame is just beyond the tip of the flame that's blue. Use that part of the flame to heat up the loop.

Gradually the link will begin to glow, and get a rosey and then a reddish color. Watch it closely, in just a few minutes the silver at the cut ends will get glossy and melt together. As soon as that happens pull the torch flame away, or the links may overheat and melt. A number of links were melted, it's just part of learning how hot the silver will get.

Take the fused link in the hemostats and drop it into cold water to quench it.

It will sizzle like crazy, and you know it was still very hot.

Do each link one at a time to close all the first loops. These closed loops will be joined together later with other loops to create the chain.

Or use the planishing hammer and texture the loops to use on their own.

Heating the silver anneals it and makes it very soft, so it's important to harden the silver even if you aren't going to texturize it with the hammer. Use a leather head mallet to work harden the metal, or put it in the tumbler. Either one will harden the loops and make them strong without putting the forged texture on them. If they will get a patina, wait until all the links are done before putting the patina color on them and tumbling them, it saves time.

Learned the hard way to be sure to texture the small links before adding the large links to them, it's much easier.

One more section ... joining links to each other - are you still interested?


Jennifer Stumpf said...

you bet!

Still Waters Studio said...

I've found that it is easier to cut the jump rings with a saw if you take them off of the mandrel and put them in between the jaws of a vise with just enough pressure to hold them steady but not crush them.
Love your work.

LLYYNN said...

Thanks, Sherry. I have a jeweler's saw and a small vise, I'll give that a try. It's the whole hand-eye coordination thing that's usually my downfall.

Thanks for dropping by the blog!