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  #1  
Old 07-15-2011, 12:58 AM
cuongsy's Avatar
cuongsy cuongsy is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Cranston, RI
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Default sterling silver

This is moreso an FYI to anyone looking to purchase sterling silver sheet metal. I have been searching for the cheapest option and found that WWW.enasco.com sells 12"x6" @ 18ga sterling sheet for only $459, whereas Rio Grande sells the same size for $706.46. Needless to say I've ordered a semester supplies worth of sterling for myself.
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:22 PM
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cuongsy cuongsy is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2011
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Default Re: sterling silver

I might as well capitalize on the fact this post is titled sterling silver...bear in mind, these facts may have already been posted, apologies if they have. I only intend to share what I've learned so far in my metals/jewelry design teachings

pro-tips (although, I'm no pro, it just sounds better),

Annealing silver: if you're not used to annealing silver and don't recognize the different shades silver changes when annealing (dull red), use a permanent mark, such as a sharpie, mark the silver, turn on the torch, and when the mark disappears, the silver should be fully annealed.

Quenching/Coolingallow silver to air cool, then quench in water. Do not quench silver in pickle solution. Pickle solution is used to help remove oxidization formed during any firing process of silver. People recommend fluxing the poo out of silver when firing, or using flux products such as firescoff to reduce oxidization, the latter product helps more so than fluxing the crap out of silver, but eventually after enough failures, you'll get a handle of what to do, and when to stop firing to reduce oxidization. Oxidization is prevalent in silver because of it's color and wide range of usage. Oxidization particularly stinks with silver, I hate it when after firing silver, cooling it down, followed by a pickle bath and a proper clean, you notice a slight dis-colorization, you scrub it out...only to find something else underneath! Experience, and failure, without the two things you will never learn.

Side note, home studio torch I recently began and finished building a home studio, one of my favorite purchases thus far is my hand torch. I needed something small, and was able to handle most jobs. I bought the Quick Fire hand held torch by benzomatic. Prior to this purchase I used a cheapo hand torch bought off ebay, and a name brand hand torch, Blazer, both hand torches only reached temps of 2k-2500k degrees, the quick fire reaches 3600. It uses propylene fuel cannisters. I've had my torch now for about 2-3 months, I have yet to change out the cannister. I'm pretty sure if I wanted to, I could scrap my own silver by way of catalyst to create molten fun and joy with this thing. It's much more convenient and cost effective for the home studio than a propane or acetylene/ ace/oxi setup. The only down side to this is I'm unable to put on different heads to adjust the flame, there is a flame adjuster on it, but that only does so much which can be a hassle when dealing with smaller objects such as earrings, especially when they melt...which at 3600 degree output, you need to be careful.

Filling gaps Quickie, soldering within jewelry terms is really and should be called brazing, due to the high temperatures achieved, which is indicative when comparing soldering...to brazing, so you will find the two used interchangeably within the jewelry field. I've been taught at school that silver solder should not be used to fill gaps ,begrudgingly, but often find myself breaking silly rules like this, if you ever find yourself in a pickle and you need to fill some small gap within a piece such as two pieces of soldered sterling with a small gap located in a corner or within the soldered area itself, Hard silver solder can be used to fill in such a gap. Med and easy can be used, but they are more brittle, likely will not last as long, and their shade is off when compared to sterling. In fact, there's a silversmith out there...that I stumbled upon, who preaches the fact that Hard silver solder should be the only silver solder used ever, due to its likeness in color, strength compared to med/easy, and lack of tarnishing compared to the others. There will be obvious times where you will need to step solder (using hard, then med, then easy) but if you can, try to use hard, your pieces will be stronger, joints will look better, and if you need to rework the piece it will not likely unsolder on you. I've decided I want to approach silver this way when I can, it makes sense. When considering soldering to fill gaps, use hard wire solder or hard sheet solder. Hard solder paste tends to be much more brittle than wire/sheet, in fact solder paste hard, med, easy...all lack the ability wire/sheet offer, they are mainly used in production pieces where quality of joints or integrity of the piece is a factor as they are more convenient. Also I would not recommend using extra easy solder ever...unless you REALLY need to. It's a disaster waiting to happen, in particular when those situations arise and you need to rework a piece, any extra easy soldered joints will likely unsolder, which will get messy. Found this out recently, I made some nice sterling rings, but discovered I had to go back in order to adjust something, I thought to myself when I first contemplated the use of extra easy...hmm extra easy, I know it won't complicate the soldering process due to it's low flow temp...I was wrong, it did what it was suppose to, but again, when you have to rework something and you've used extra easy solder, kiss that joint good bye, resolder, clean up, and re-polish. In the short time I've practice metals and jewelry design, I can attest, I've become decent at soldering because of all the times I've messed up and had to clean up my mistakes, the process of having to rework, re-polish, resolder, is something you do not want to repeat over and over again, so you learn quickly and adapt.

Keum-boo, I'm sure most of you know of this technique, but in the event someone new is reading this, Keum-boo is a Korean technique where 24k gold leaf is gilded onto fine silver. Sterling Silver can be used as well, so long as you fire it enough to deplete the surface of the sterling which will bring up a layer of fine silver, I often see this when I accidentally over-fire sterling, where an oxidized white shade will surface over the once grey metallic shade of sterling. Gold leaf is added onto a heated piece of silver and applied with pressure, which creates a permanent diffusion bond and gives silver the appearance of gold (gold bonding). Other metals can be used, but the potential for silver and gold to be used is more likely, due to the metals similar atomic structure.

Difference between fine and sterling? Different parts silver, fine is 999 parts silver, sterling is 925. Sterling is heartier, offers more flexibility as a material choice due to the additive alloys within it. Fine silver is typically used...within jewelry on bails, findings, bezels and enameled pieces. (Enamel tends to stick and work better on purer forms of metals: copper, fine silver, gold)

Re-purposed, re-scrap, ethical practices something I've found myself leaning more toward as I began my studio was the practice of becoming an ethical metalsmith. Doing what I can, when I can to preserve ecological state of things. Neutralize chemicals you dump down the drain, separate, collect, and dispose of metals and scraps properly. Working in a healthy environment is one thing, keeping your practices safe for everyone else is another. I know as engravers and working with guns or knives, you know, all the macho stuff we enjoy, people often get the misconception of a rugged huntsman who shoots guns and kills animals, this doesn't mean we should neglect the fact these animals are able to be hunted today because of the state of nature. Mining, essentially gold mining, as most non-ferrous metals are bi-products of gold mining, is one of the worst offenders in production waste products in the world. The whole blood diamond enterprise is just as bad as some of the unethical practices which occur in the gold mining industry. If you have the ability to scrap, reuse, or purchase re-purposed metals, please try to make an effort to do so. Gold doesn't need to be mined, but it is mined because it drives economy, there's already enough gold out there. Factors or reusing scrap, purchasing re-purposed metals will also help boost your possible product sales by allowing your products to be sold as "green" or ecological, which in todays market is expanded. I realize this has more to do with jewelry than it does engraving, but if you ever find yourself in such a situation where your ready to dump a big pot of pickle solution down the drain without neutralizing it first with simple baking soda or if you've thought about scrapping metals make the ethical choice and do it! I'm no hippie, not at all, (nothing wrong with hippies, I love trees too man), but it sucks to know when you are a part or want to become a part of a career which causes such negative effects on the world's ecological system. I know it's a part of life and if it's not this then it's something else causing trouble, I hate to sound like Smokey the Bear or other PSA commercials, but taking action and attempting to clean up the image of an industry which has forever been seen as a negative factor in today's pollution issues is something we should attempt, in 4 years in the Air Force a valuable lesson I learned was if you ever leave a place, always leave it better off then when you arrived.

I've been meaning to write something like this, so I hope at least someone finds this useful. I had some other facts I thought of listing, but, I feel I've written too much. I start a casting studio and a repousse and chasing studio this coming semester, I cannot wait to be able to use my airgraver, I contemplated taking it to school with me, but I don't want the other students to be jealous, or think I'm in some way cheating, which undoubtedly, I feel like I am somewhat cheating...thanks for reading.
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  #3  
Old 08-11-2011, 07:03 PM
DKanger DKanger is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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Default Re: sterling silver

You better check again........current price is $677.95 and changes with market fluctuations.
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  #4  
Old 08-11-2011, 07:29 PM
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cuongsy cuongsy is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Cranston, RI
Posts: 41
Default Re: sterling silver

I guess I bought from them at the right time, I just rechecked rio's price, which is 707, not much of a difference, perhaps Enasco had a sale? Or an overstock of silver at the time.
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