Watercolor Sketch

27 11 2013

Man in France

Man in France


Quick monochrome watercolor with marker added in after…a guy in France by the Gare Central





Solder On

22 11 2013

It's project time!

It’s project time!


My parents dabbled in stained glass once upon a time, so I decided to play with some supplies. At a very basic level, concepts are simple:
solder

solder


First, you need some solder (pronounced “sauter” …. pretty sure I’m spelling that right even though it looks wrong). Solder is a relatively soft metal alloy that melts into this liquid silver stuff.
Soldering iron

Soldering iron


Then you need an iron like the one above. My dad made this contraption – a thing to hold the iron and a wet sponge (to clean the solder off of it). The iron starts smoking when you plug it in, which is apparently normal.
flux

flux


Then you need flux. I have no idea what this is but it’s brown, sticky, and looks disgusting. You put the flux on your copper tape (see the first picture) and it helps the solder adhere.
First I tried soldering a small piece of glass:
Step 1: wrap copper wire

Step 1: wrap copper wire


Copper tape (I keep thinking of it as wire) is thin, not too expensive, and easy to shape. You wrap the edges of the piece, folding down on either side. Because of the item’s curves, you’re going to get some bumps.
Step 2: burnish

Step 2: burnish


This may or may not be the right terminology, but you can use a burnishing tool to smooth down some of the bumps. I used the edge of a scissors, which isn’t the best, but it helped. At this stage, you’ll want to add flux with a little brush or stick.
Step 3: Solder

Step 3: Solder


Then you do the soldering. You take the heated iron and touch the tip of it to the solder wire. It will melt it and catch it (some will drip though, so do this over a piece of old wood or something – not something metal though, because metal conducts heat). Then touch the iron to the copper tape and apply the silver solder. It beads up and drips sometimes, but you can smooth it over. The item can get hot to hold, so it helps to have a clamp or something to hold it for you.
Step 4: For a pendant, add a jump ring.

Step 4: For a pendant, add a jump ring.


Because I was making a tiny piece, I decided to add a jump ring and turn it into a charm. You hold the jump ring in place with a needle nosed pliers and then apply solder to it. Remove the iron and keep holding it in place until it cools.

So, that worked kind of well. Then I had this “brilliant” idea. I purchased a bunch of ammonites and wanted to turn them into pendants for necklaces. I’m too cheap for silver bezel wire, so I thought this might be a good alternative. Why shouldn’t it work the same way, right?

Copper wrapped ammonite

Copper wrapped ammonite


So I wrapped copper tape around an ammonite and grabbed the iron.
holding the shell in place, because it's too hot to touch!

holding the shell in place, because it’s too hot to touch!


…did the solder…but it wasn’t working well. When I tried to attach the jump ring, I made a little jumpy movement, and the ring fell into the solder. On instinct, I tried to pick it up with a tool, and this happened:
Sad :(

Sad 😦


The entire copper soldered wire fell off! 😦 The stone where it had been “adhered” too was left scarred – a paler tone than the rest of the shell. It looks pretty disgusting. So, not such a brilliant idea after all.
I may have to get that bezel wire after all…








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