Friday, January 17, 2014

Hollow Fusion Bracelet

After completing a ton of fusing metal experiments, what do I do with all of these silver plates!  I had been drooling over the designs of jewelry artist Nancy Blair and thought about emulating the box look of her bracelets.  Why not use my fuse experiments to make up the links in a bracelet!

Fusing Silver with a torch Experiments

After getting the basics of silver smithing down of soldering, polishing and bezel setting I wanted to start experimenting in my home workshop.  After committing sterling silver (s/s) to experimentation, I decided to explore the fusing technique.  I won't go into the actual fusing process as there are may free, great videos on Youtube and other tutorials on the hows.  Needless to say, I didn't do much research and just winged it.

In all experiments, I used 1 mm thick s/s sheet.
Experiment 1: 1 silver s/s ball, one fine silver ball and 1 x 9 karat gold ball 

Fusing requires a lot of concentration and careful flame control.  In an ideal set up, I would have a bunsen burner type flame heating the back plate from underneath to get the metal hot and then use another flame to do the final melting of the top surface from above.  Sadly, I don't have a pluthera of materials in my workshop, so I used one plumbers LPG torch from above with the biggest head possible which leaves very little room for minute control. 

I learned in this first experiment that s/s melts quickly, 9 karat gold melts next and fine silver holds it shape quite well compared to the melting point of the s/s backplate.  The s/s ball and gold ball resemble fried eggs as I was trying to get the fine silver ball to finally fuse to the backplate.

Conclusion of this first experiment was to have all items I am fusing to one backplate all the same material for consistent success without complete meltdown of a feature.