Monday, November 30, 2009

Fusing Fine Silver Head Pins

I'm so excited about the direction my jewelry is taking lately!  Basically it's because I'm hooked on fusing fine silver wire.  Caution:  Before you read any further, you should know that fusing can be very addictive!  So, I've got the basic fusing down pretty good now, but I did ruin quite a few head pins and rings before I got the hang of it. 

If you decide to give it a try, make sure you have the right equipment, extra supplies and lots of patience.  Since patience is not my forte, I know you can do this!  C''s not hard, but I did ruin a few fine silver rings by over heating them before I got the hand of it.  If you can't reuse your ring, you can always sell it to a precious metal refiner for scrap.  You can easily learn to fuse and there's really no cleanup afterward since you don't use flux or solder like with sterling silver.  Also there's no chemicals involved like pickle so the only fumes you will have to worry about are from the fuel burning in your torch.

You could start practicing your fusing by making some fine silver head pins.  Personally, I think this is the easiest technique to learn, really fun and you'll have some really nice head pins to use.  I know working with a torch can be daunting at first, but your torch will soon be your new best friend.

 To make head pins you need to have a small butane torch, which you can get from a local hardware store, good razor flush wire cutters, a pair of chain nose pliers, a quenching bowl filled with water, stainless steel work surface and 24-gauge fine silver wire.

Cut your wire into 2" pieces.   Hold your wire down vertically with your pliers in front of your torch, just past the bright blue cone.  The pliers should be gripping your wire at the top, while the bottom of the wire should be down in front of the flame.  Keep a close eye on the wire as it balls up in the flame. When the desired ball size is reached, remove from flame immediately and drop in quenching bowl to cool.  Remove with your hand, not your pliers, since this would cause your plies to rust.

TIP:  If you don't have a stainless steel work surface, try using an old cookie sheet with sides on it.  Don't try to make the ball too big.  If you hold the wire in the flame too long, the ball will fall off.  Also, if you would like to work-harden your head pins, grab the ball end with your fingers and the other end with your pliers and carefully twist the ball 1 or 2 times.  Be sure not to twist too many times or the ball will fall off.

Good luck and have fun!

Until next time, someone once said: "Success is a journey, not a destination."
A cowgirl once said: "The journey to success is just one wild ride after the other!"