Thursday, May 19, 2011

Regaining my sea legs

Amethyst and gear pendant

Looking at my blog archives, it's been over a month since I worked on a project that required much complex soldering. Now I'm working on a commission that involves a bunch of tiny, multi-step soldering, and it's been great getting back into things. I do love the cold metalwork techniques I use, like sawing, filing, and especially texturing/hammering. But I think I love soldering even more.

I love the nerve-wracking moments where I'm holding my breath to line the solder chips up juuuuust right. The torching, where I first gently heat up the metal, then bring the flame close and fast while praying the little delicate bits of silver and gear will get hot enough to meld with the solder, but not melt into a puddle. The hiss of plunging the newly-soldered piece into the quenching bowl. Turning the newly-fabricated thing over in my hands, tugging at it to be sure the pieces have truly joined. I even love smelling the vinegar working away at cleaning something I've just soldered together, and I normally hate vinegar!

There are a few things about soldering that I can tell I've gotten rusty at over the last month without it. I overheated the back of this little prototype pendant, so there's an unsightly blob of silver on the reverse side. I'll be keeping this pendant for myself for that reason--it's wearable, but not up to my standards for selling. I think that a teeny bit of practice will get my heat control back to its normal form, and I can't wait to do more and more soldering! Yay playing with fire!

EDIT: Some folks didn't realize how tiny the pendant is. Here's a shot with a ruler in it for scale:

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