On Wednesday jewellery Amy Logan hosted a live Q&A on our Facebook page. We had some many great questions that we thought we would post an article so that these great tips aren’t lost in the depths of our timeline. Thank you once again to everyone who took part, it was so great to chat to you all!
Question: I’m having a little bit of trouble deciding with which thickness of saw blades I should be using. Do you have any advice or tips I could you?
Answer: My favourite saw blade grade is 3/0 as I like to use a thin grade. Most tutors will advise that you use a 2/0 as it is right in the middle and good for most thicknesses. One tip you can use is that three teeth of the blade should cover the thickness of the metal you are using.
Question: Can you tell me if the eco silver from Cooksongold can be sold and stamped as .925 sterling silver and what are there any advantages and disadvantages of using it?
Answer: Eco silver is the same alloy make up as standard .925 but the great thing about it is that it’s 100% recycled. This means that for customers concerned about the environment there is a fab ‘greener’ solution for them. You will find that working with Ecosilver is exactly the same so you won’t need to change your making process.
Question: I need to do some very delicate soldering, is there anything I can buy to help me keep the flame very same and thin? I keep making mistakes with a regular torch.
Answer: For delicate items I actually love to use a hand torch – they are not very powerful which will work to your advantage with thin silver. Have you also tried rolling down your solder? If you make it super thin it melts much quicker meaning you don’t need to heat the piece for as long, this reduces the risk of melting and the chance of any fire stain.
Question: Do you have any tips for working with/soldering brass? Someone told me the fumes are toxic but I can’t find any information regarding that online! Also what is the best way to pickle it?
Answer: It is most probably the flux often used to solder Brass that they are referring to -generally these can be quite toxic. I would recommend that you use the Borax as this is basically a mineral ground up and compressed into a cone. I would still say you should be working a well ventilated area but it is definitely much safer. Then I would go for the Picklean Safety Pickle as it is a food grade material and also much safer than other pickle powders. Ideally needs to be warm – if you can’t splash out on a pickle unit I would suggest a bain-marie type set up to help with a more constant temperature.
Question: I’ve been working with silver plated copper wire and have just started with sterling silver. I’m finding it very soft, is there anything I can do to strengthen it? And is there a breaking point with sterling silver wire and if so, how will I know when I’m near it?
Answer: There is a breaking point at which you can crack silver when you have work hardened it. Here’s an example: if you are raising a bowl, the metal gets harder the more it is hammered, this is because the silver is being squashed as its being stretched. You will be able to tell from the feel and the ‘spring’ in the silver – if you are unsure its best to anneal before continuing so you don’t damage the silver. Hammering is the simplest way to harden silver. If you are using wire – for example you have just soldered on earring pins you will find the wire is quite pliable. One of the best ways I find is to place the item in a barrelling machine and tumble it for a couple of hours – it will come out shiny and with a nice springy back to the earring.
Question: I have just started out and no idea what grade wet and dry to start with. Don’t really want to order one of each, can you help?
Answer: For best results it is good practice to go through each grade – however, you can skip a few. So depending on the scratches you are trying to remove you may not need a very coarse paper one to start as you will actually be putting in more scratches than you are removing. A good grade to start with for deeply scratched metal is 240 for lighter scratches I tend to start at around 400.