Yesterday our in house silversmith Laura Golbourne 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 trouble with how much silver sheet to buy for a bangle, how do I go about sizes?
Answer: Depending on what you are doing I would suggest a thickness of 0.9mm to 1mm for a standard bangle and then you need to decide on how wide to go. Think about if you would like a really chunky piece or something more slender. As for the length I would close your hand as tightly as possible and measure the distance across as this will give you the diameter you need. Standard bangles are generally 8cm in diameter so you would need to times this by PI (3.14) to get the circumference and therefore length needed which in this case would be about 25 cm.
Question: I would like to make a bowl, but how do I get it so that it is 8cm in diameter and about 5cms high…?
Answer: To get the size disc you will need to add the height and the diameter together. In this case you will want a 13cm disc to start and make a template of the cross section you wish to work to as your raising it up.
Question: Sometimes when I solder fine silver wire (the wire is usually rolled into a loose mesh) to sterling silver sheet using solder paste the fine silver gets a yellow stain. Any idea what this is and how I can avoid it?
Answer: This sounds like tarnish staining. Have you left the piece in the pickle long enough to take off all the oxide? If this is not the case you might need to get a fine tool to get in there and clean the surface off.
Question: I need to know how hot to keep my pickle solution. After using the pickle the jump rings are coming out as if they are stripped, does this suggest that my jump rings aren’t sterling silver after all?
Answer: I usually keep my solution at about 40 – 50 degrees temp so that my pieces will clean quickly. If the solution is stripping the items this might suggest that the solution is too hot and also too strong. How do the pieces look when they come out? If they are still silver if so this would suggest they are sterling, if not they may be plated!
Question: I am going through the process of registering a hallmark, I am hoping to use the marks initially as a focal point of my designs, mainly on the outer side of rings (between 3 and 6mm in width) – size J was my thought – any advice? Also I’m wondering which assay office to register with? Any guidance would be great!
Answer: If there is an assay office within walking/driving distance to you I would register there, this way if you’re in a hurry for your things you won’t have to always wait for posting. Some people like the leopard mark that the London assay office use but I’m with Birmingham as this is where I’m based which is the anchor. I think size J sounds perfect for the size of rings you are making!
Question: I’m trying to make a bracelet with small pieces of wire, through a pearl and looped at each end of the wire (rosary style). The wire can only be 0.5 mm but this seems too soft. Can you suggest the best kind of silver wire to use?
Answer: If you’re finding it a bit too soft I would recommend our hard or half-hard wire.
Question: I struggle with my display pieces tarnishing really fast, the atmosphere is very moist and salty where I live, I have used anti tarnish pads etc, but is there anything else I can do to slow it down or anything I can use on my pieces?
Answer: We have just introduced a new range of products called town talk. When I’m at a show I always take along a anti-tarnish impregnated cloth and my silver dip. This will help to keep the pieces nice and shiny whilst at the show. You will need to wash off the silver dip so this might be best done the night before the show and have the cloth with you to help brighten up during the day.
Question: I am trying to make a bezel setting for a cabochon but can’t get the silver bezel soldered onto the back plate. It is a medium size cabochon (~30mm X 25mm), I am using easy solder and plenty of flux on the back plate. I only have hand torches to work with – I am trying the impossible?
Answer: It is a little tricky sometimes with slightly larger items to get your hand torch to do the job easily however; I think this should be able to work. Make sure that all your surfaces and solder are nice and clean as well as fluxed. You will probably need to get the piece as hot as possible all over and then focus the flame in one place. Once you have one piece flowing you will find by moving the flame a little it should be hot enough for the next one and so on.
Make sure you tune in on Facebook next Wednesday between 1-2pm for our next live Q&A session!