Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Blobbing...or the process of reclaiming fine silver.

Nope, it's not a misspelling of blogging.  I've been working on texturing some metal sheet but started the hard way with scrap.  I work with a lot of fine silver.  It requires nothing more than a torch and some cold water, no chemicals.

Here's the start.  Pile up a bunch of scrap on a kiln brick.
Fire up the torch (I use two Blazer torches as I won't use my Smith Little in a rented house) and sing along with about four Christmas songs until it blobs up good..."What child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping."  "Frosty the snowman (Raffi version)"

Don't worry about the floating junk, it's impurities that melt along with the silver.  Later I file it off.  Here are four blobs in various stages, two fresh and bumpy and two that have been through the rolling mill once or twice.  You see the one on the right has cracks, I didn't anneal it enough and stressed the metal.

Now you see the silver blob as it's stretched thinner and thinner in the rolling mill.  I'll pass it through maybe three or four times and then heat it until it's good and pink, which anneals and softens the metal allowing it to stretch and flatten further each time.
Here it's as thin as I want it, which is about 26 gauge.  This gauge is great for earrings as they should be thin enough not to be heavy but it's sturdy.

The big piece I cut into three sections and ran each through the rolling mill with a brass texture sheet, sandwiched between heavy paper.

See my beautiful Durston rolling mill.  What an amazing piece of machinery, bless those engineers.
Here you see the three pieces I textured.
Then I can cut the pieces into strips or punch discs with my disc cutter, this is where I smashed my thumb yesterday.
See the nice discs with their wonderful texture?
And all the brass texture sheets with the silver that it textured.
Another pretty cool thing you can do is run heavy cardstock paper through the mill with the texture sheets.
I can use it to make some little gift cards or something.  It might also be good to use in some resin work, will have to try that.  One idea leads to another and another, wish I had 40 hours in a day.

I've been wanting to try some brass or bronze etching so I can make my own texture plates but these plates are so gorgeous and relatively cheap, it might not be worth the hassle.  Except I'd love some script texture and if I could pick out the words that would be even better.

I LOVE my job.

Peace to you and yours.

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