Let’s look at my mess

One of my professors (OK, I dated him, too, if I’m being honest) once told me that the only difference between established artists and student artists is the amount of failures they have behind them.  I must have been having a moment, because his pep-talk also included comments on how we are only learning when we’re failing, and we can’t realize how important these failures are until we’ve learned beyond them.  

I must be growing!  I’m going to be sooo good soon!

Let’s look at the mess I made.

Keeping in mind how expensive failure can be when being polymetallic, I approached my striped wide band with economy of materials in mind.  I intended to make a fine gauge band, sand it smooth, and then solder the whole thing onto a heavier sterling band.  The gold would not be structural this way, and so I could use much less.

I milled out gold and silver to about .20 mm thickness, and cut thin strips of each, about 2 inches long.  I soldered those together.

two strips soldered together
two strips soldered together

Then, I trimmed the sides so that I had a rectangle, and cut that into smaller sections.  I would solder these together,  cut the band horizontally, and solder one more time. 


When I work with gold I use three different solders, each melting at an incrementally lower temperature.  This allows me to solder multiple joints without melting previously soldered seams.  When combining gold and silver, silver solder is used, and I only had one temperature of silver solder on hand.  With a bit of care, this hasn’t been a problem before,  but to protect those initial seams from heat I coated them with a heat shield product.

It didn’t work.


The first solder seams liquefied, and the gold jumped up and over the silver pieces.  I’ve not seen that before, and wonder why the gold jumped on top of the silver, and not the other way around, as gold is the  heavier metal.   Whatever the scientific reason is, I think this could be avoided by using multiple solders with staggered melting temperatures.

Not a costly mistake, but I’ll wait until I have a variety of silver solder on hand before I try this again.


2 thoughts on “Let’s look at my mess

  1. not being a silversmith, or a real jewelry designer (still learning, fumbling, finding myself) but how about building a base, an armature of sorts that you could slide each piece into, sleeves that would be banded top and bottom with perhaps silver, being the less costly of the two metals….just a thought.

    1. hmm….slide them in with the sleeve to hold them, solder them and then leave the sleeve as a decorative element or remove it altogether. Ah grasshopper, you have become the master!

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