Monday, March 2, 2009

Sorry that I have been out of touch

No excuse, just got behind with my correspondence.

Marie, a month ago (how time flys!) you noted that there are 12 soldering different "techniques" on my submarine. Actually, what my listing says is that there are 12 different soldering operations. A soldering operation is when you head up two pieces of metal and then melt a third piece of metal (that has a lower meling point) in between the first two pieces, joining them together. Doing this more than once on the same piece of jewelry is tricky because, when you go to solder the second time, you heat up the whole piece of jewelry, and if you are not very careful, the solder from the first time will melt and the piece will fall apart. So soldering 12 different times on the same small piece is very tricky.

About techniques; I frequently use three soldering techniques. Hard soldering, tin soldering, and a combination of tin soldering and pewter welding.

Hard soldering involves high melting point metals. Like gold and silver; and in the case of the pieces I am making for SteamSmithWorks, brass, bronze and nickel silver. Unless you are working with gold, hard soldering usually uses silver solder. Silver solder has a high melting point, about 1700 degrees F and is great for joining higher melting point metals like brass, bronze and nickel silver (and, of course, silver).

Since pewter melts at about 600 degrees F, obviously silver solder is not going to work - the whole piece of pewter would melt into a puddle before the silver solder got hot enough to melt! So one uses tin solder (pewter is an alloy of mostly tin). The tin solder melts at a lower melting point than pewter, so you can use it to solder pieces of pewter together AND to solder pieces of other metals, like brass, to pieces of pewter.

The third technique that I use a lot is a combination of tin soldering and pewter welding. If I am joining two larger pieces of pewter together, first I will solder them with tin solder, then I will meld a little pewter (higher melting point than the solder) and force it into the joint. The result is a stronger joint.

Of course there is more to it than this brief summery; there is more to it.

To put all of this into the context of how I make my pieces; in a nut shell, I make the parts separately from each other, and then solder them all together! Just like my father taught me.

Marie, keep up your good work. I especially like your roses.

That is all for now.


1 comment:

  1. I want to thank Mark from SteamSMithWorks for the explanation of his soldering operations. I completely misunderstood the original explanation. I understand it clearly now, I have seen other students in my class using these techniques, however, the most soldering operations I have seen done on one piece is three. I can't even imagine what my nerves would be like to try to do 12 soldering operations on one piece. This is a lot of work and I didn't realize how much work goes into one of your pieces. I am awed by this.

    I hope you realize how lucky you are to have such talents with metal. It's as though you can turn your imagination into works of art. You are also luck to have had your father for a teacher, I still wish I was able to learn from him, he was so talented...I think you have inherited his gifts and added your own gifts which adds up to some really beautifully crafted pieces of jewelry.

    I will keep watching for more pieces that seem to come right from your imagination into your hands and become something wonderful.

    Thank you for the compliment about my roses, it means a lot to me.