I have spent some time today having a serious play with Argentium. They say it is the way forward and a revolution and all that so you have to give it a go don't you...
Well as soon as Carole said that it fuses really well I started to get quite excited and today I have been making jumprings of various sizes and practicing fusing them. I only have borax for a flux but it seems to be quite happy to fuse using that. I have to unlearn an awful lot first. I have been fusing fine silver rings to make chains for so long now that I could probably do it in my sleep but it is all just a bit different with Argentium. It seems to take a little longer to get up to fusing temperature - I suppose I ought to check what temperature it fuses at as I suppose it will be higher than fine silver and therefore would take longer!! Derr! And it is a bit less reactive when it gets to fusing temperature. With fine silver you almost have to time it to the instant or you melt the ring - Argentium seems to be a little more laid back...it's almost like slow motion fusing compared to fine silver! But that is good...less 'accidents'!!
I have tried to replicate one of my fine silver chain designs in Argentium - but I am only using 0.7 Argentium instead of 0.9 fine silver - so it looks a bit thin and wimpy by comparison (I shall probably have to drop to smaller mandrels) but it is working out OK! It is considerably tougher to wind the wire - even when it has been annealed - so getting guaranteed consistent size rings could be more challenging. Likewise, it is harder to shape and twist the rings once they are fused but that is no real problem either.
I have also been playing around with that bit of Argentium weave I did on Thursday (using 0.5 wire) and have made 3 rings...and learned a lot. I am getting to grips with soldering again. It has been a long time but it seems to be a lot easier than I ever remember it being with sterling. I am using medium Argentium solder and the borax...and so far it is a case of a couple of seconds to heat up and 'ping' - it's gone! So I'm quite happy with that too!
So - what is the problem??
I'm just not in love!! Fine silver is just so beautiful. It looks gorgeous when it is fusing and it still looks gorgeous when it is quenched. Even if it does turn a little white - it is still beautiful - like a covering of frost!!
Argentium is clever - and my head likes that! I can see all sorts of things that I can do with it now - and that excites me! But it doesn't delight me in the way fine silver does. It seems to be more of a job - going through the processes handling dull, grey/black metal, endlessly waiting for the darn things to pickle clean!! When I had work to do with fine silver I used to find myself grinning foolishly with the delight of it all...I just can't see myself doing that with the Argentium...although the finished effect will probably be a lot more stunning.
Is it a good trade off?
I'm totally sure that Argentium is staying in my repertoir now - although it will take ages to learn how to handle it well. I'm just not sure how the work/pleasure balance is going to work out!!
I will post some pictures later on...or possibly tomorrow. I want to make use of the daylight that is left playing in the 'studio'! I just thought I would add a thread to the dwindling number this afternoon!!