While my workshop was open over the weekend I used the opportunity to make a batch of my new seaside pieces for a couple of galleries. I find, when I have multiples of one thing to make, that I easily get into a good working rhythm and gain some good working momentum.
I’m fairly new to reticulation though and I have to watch these pieces like a hawk to avoid melting them! Lately I’m getting a better feel for how the surface textures of the silver changes, and how to spot the warning signs of over heating – but when started out it was all rather trial and error.
So, you start off with your nice, shiny wire:
and get heating, with a nice, gentle, feathery flame. I use charcoal bricks to support work that I’m reticulating – it tends not to stick to the charcoal and the heat reflects really nicely (which helps to keep the temperature even through the metal). There’s a brilliant tutorial on Ganoskin which takes you through the process and a quick video of me reticulating the wire here. With this being the end result:
Going back over the piece with a slightly more intense flame, right at the end, seems to even out the surface really well too. Once it’s all pickled clean for the final time it’ll look something like this:
these polish up beautifully into a texture that proves to be wearing ever so well:
– it’s a lot like Sterling silver but while the Sterling stuff is 925 parts per thousand pure silver (the rest being an alloy of copper etc) Britannia is 958 parts per thousand pure silver.
This means that Britannia is a little softer than Sterling and much more suggestable. It stretches where Sterling might have cracked and is more cooperative for things like ambitious silversmithing and spinning.
So Britannia seemed just the thing when I was struggling to move my pressforming from beautiful, stretchy copper into unyielding sterling silver …
In terms of cutting, annealing and polishing I really can’t tell the difference between the two alloys but for overall stretchiness Britannia wins hands down.
Here’s how I got on with it:
It’s my first silver piece on the new press forms and I’m really pleased with how well it’s come out, now I just need to make some etching/finish decisions and I might have a range ready for the spring!
A very exciting parcel arrived at the workshop last Friday:
Last year I invested in a Swanstrom disc cutter from Rio Grande and, without doubt, it’s one of the best tools that I own. This year those clever folks at Swanstrom have designed shaped cutters and my latest acquisition is this little heart shaped beauty:
Naturally I had it out on my bench and cutting things in under 3 minutes – and the little hearts come out just perfectly:
So I grabbed some spare silver and made a heart shaped version of my larger Flotsam pendants:
I’m really pleased with how well it came out, it’s neat, lovely and slightly more floral my usual. I think it’ll be just perfect for valentines.
I polished it up and the final piece is here:
To celebrate the new cutter (I know, I’m a little crazy about tools …) I’m going to run a Valentines Giveaway so, if you’d like to win the first product of the new cutter, then check out the details here.
(… and here’s a quick final shot of my disc cutter, Albie, and Winnie (of Wisconsin) nestled safely together on the bench. Aw!)
so, back at the bench today and fitting the base on this little beast proved rather a tricky manoeuvre. What works in card and sticky tape does not always work in metal and it needed a lot of shifting, filing and re-measuring to eventually get a neat fit.
With all the pieces lined up:
I bound it altogether, though I’m running out of the good, thick binding wire that I bought in uni so this is rather a Heath Robinson affair:
and the nice recessed base looks super:
I think I’m getting there with this piece, it’s a really cute size, so I’ll let it hang around the workshop for a day or so while I think about it, tweak it and draw etching patterns on it in sharpie!
Well – I went from paper model to copper model this week:
which is always interesting. There’s less than 1mm of difference between the thickness of the card for the model and the thinkness of the copper sheet but my, does it make a difference! Seeing something in metal gives it a whole new dimension and really made me realise quite quickly that this piece was just way too big.
So, a quick trip down the road to the photocopier at Delta Pi and voila! A new, smaller piece:
I made a few alterations to the basic shape, just to change the outline of the curves and the next copper sample is now ready for soldering: