I choose: what’s your favorite technique and why?
Shoot! My second new favorite technique is the one I just learned/figured out how to do. Later in the blog.
My first fav is especially with stone setting. Wouldn't you know that as soon as my book went to press in 2007 I would develop an entirely new process for post-fire setting stones. Large ones. Stones that could be fired in place but ones I choose not to set pre-firing. The whole idea behind this process is to have the inside of the setting have somewhat of a mirror finish. This is pretty darn important when setting stones in rings and pendants. It is VERY important when the gemstone isn't cut to reflect all the light (and color) back to the viewer. Then all the dirt that is caught in the rough surface on the inside of the setting will be reflected back to the viewer.
Also because I like my work finished perfectly from the back as well as the front.
So The above is my all time favorite technique.... now to my most recent exploration. I entered the NAD completion (see image in previous post) and decided to add strength to the torque neckpiece. I have been using a lot of argentium sterling lately because the germanium adds strength, has fire scale elimination properties and, most important to me, has a really high tarnish resistance. To quote WikipediA, "Argentium Silver is the result of research by Peter Johns at the School of Art & Design, Middlesex University." And it is rapidly replacing the copper alloy sterling silver that we metalsmiths have been using for eons. Note that there is still some copper in argentium sterling.
When heating common sterling via soldering or firing in a kiln, the oxygen at high heat forms a black surface coating of cupric oxide or fire scale. This needs to be removed with a very strong acid, such as sodium bisulfate. To remove this black surface one might need to soak the silver in the latter, warmed acid, for a very long time. Handling this acid or breathing the warm fumes are a very bad health hazard.
With argentium silver I have found a very light coating of fire scale on my work. And that is when it is subjected to a very high temperature for an extended time... say kiln firing. If I put the work into a pan of warm/hot white vinegar the black goes away almost at once. I found that I only had to do this twice. After my third firing the germanium coated the surface, there was no fire scale and that, marvelous, coating became the element to make the metal tarnish resistant.
My, I am going on. Well, sterling silver needs to be silver depleted by heating and soaking in acid MANY times. This makes the surface of the sterling fine silver and that allows the metal clay to adhere properly. One can use the vinegar instead of the sodium bisulfate in this process too. It takes longer because the cupric oxide is thicker and deeper in the metal.
Not with argentium AND a metal clay product from Art Clay World, USA. This product is called Art Clay Silver Overlay Paste (tm) and I don't know what is in it but it works wonderfully with the argentium. To make the torque, I first shaped the 14 gauge argentium wire, soldered the hinge ends and the clasp ends. I then washed the metal with alcohol on cotton pad and let dry. I then applied two coats of the Art Clay Overlay Paste and three heavy coats of regular Art Clay Paste. Of course I let the pastes dry between coats. Fired both halves of the torque and burnished the work in a tumbler after firing.
No peeling. No sign of the paste being weakened. Now this is my new very favorite technique because it is enabling me to try some more wild and crazy designs.
Do visit these other Jewel Carnival blogs find out what they like best or what they want to learn: