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Thread: Lopsided balls!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Warwickshire
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    37

    Default Lopsided balls!

    I'm embarrassed to ask in case I'm being really thick but when you ball up the end of a piece of wire (Sterling silver in my current case) do you get a nice centred 'ball'? Or, like mine, do they sort of end up on one side of the wire?

    I can tweak them central with round nosed pliers, bit like you would with a wire loop, but if everyone else is getting them central to start off with I'd love to know what I'm doing wrong! Any thoughts out there?

    Nammie

    PS I'm using a little butane torch and holding the wire vertically with the end hanging in the hottest part of the flame. I've tried with and without borax flux, I just get smoother lopsided balls!
    Last edited by nammie; 10-04-2013 at 10:13 PM. Reason: predictive text!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central London
    Posts
    8,218

    Default

    You're lucky to get them smooth-most people also complain of little pits

    When you heat the end of a wire, the molten metal by its nature tends to become pear shaped and droop to one side. You can modify the shape by using a finer fiercer flame to give more of a ball. The wire is kept vertical and the flame horizontal, only just touching the tip of the wire. Let the ball form slowly, bit by bit. The less pear shaped the result the less it will lean. Flux makes it flow more quickly and keeps it bright.

    When the other members see this they will no doubt give you their favourite way of doing things, but as you say, you can always tweak your failures a bit with pliers. Dennis

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Birmingham, UK
    Posts
    188

    Default

    The only way to get truly near perfect balls (gosh, that sounds weird) is to use fine silver rather than sterling. It's the copper content that's responsible for the pitting and general lopsidedness.

    That said, I've been making my own sterling headpins for quite a while and have managed to improve my balls (oh dear, again, I find myself giggling as I say that) by suspending the wire vertically and using a fine flame to carefully and slowly ball up the wire. As soon as you see the little ball forming, move the flame slightly upwards and concentrate the heat mostly on the ball, following it upwards until it's the correct size and shape. If you see the ball forming to one side, move the flame slightly and point it at a slightly different angle and you should find that the ball becomes more central (not always though). I always dip the end of the wire in a little bit of auflux before beginning. They're never perfect in sterling but I can get decent results by working slowly and carefully. Fine silver is definitely my first choice though when it comes to making little ball ended headpins/granules

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cornwall
    Posts
    3,172

    Default

    I use Reflections silver which balls up better than sterling and I find my Smiths torch works well. I don't bother with flux. They can still be a bit lopsided sometimes though but I just tweak them with pliers.

    With 9ct rose gold I use flux and a little cook's torch as my Smiths torch is too hot.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    cotswolds
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    3,321

    Default

    Like Carole, I use either reflections or (if I can bear to spend the extra money) argentium for balled ends. Works much better than regular sterling and less tarnish too.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    154

    Default

    Emily,
    I work only with argentium silver, no flux, but I agree with you to work slow forming balls (sounds funny, yes ), and carefully place flame to improve the shape. Just what you wrote. I do the same, and it works well.
    Lana.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    414

    Default

    If you also suspend your silver vertically just infront of a solder block you will also get a more even temperature and a more even ball.
    Poor old Les

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