Can You Solder Copper Cleanly?
I've been working on a new series of mixed metal brooches with custom cut freeform stones for about three months now. It's been tough for me to find time after my full workdays at Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, but I'm determined to have six new works by the end of June. Who needs sleep when you can solder and cut stone?
Under the torch: The chased and formed upper portion of one of my latest copper pieces needed several annealings and has 7 solder joins.
Are you working right along with me in copper, brass, and bronze? I can tell by the questions arriving by mail and the emails I get that many of you are experimenting with alt metals, too. Soldering them can be a bit of a challenge, but well worth the effort if you stick with it.
Because of the popularity of these metals, you might want to brush up on your soldering technique and pracice getting good fitting and clean joins to avoid blobs of silver solder where you don't want them. Check out our very cool Complete Guide to Jewelry Soldering–and get out your torch!
In my own work, I decided to use some silver for the bezels and settings, a little bit of brass, and mostly copper because I love the way it forges and patinas. Plus, it is inexpensive. Another benefit of working with copper is that it forces you to solder cleanly and accurately because of the color difference between the body metal and the solder joins of the piece. And there is nothing bad about a good solder join!
To me, making jewelry is a mental, physical, and creative process, and I like to overcome fabrication challenges just as much as making an aesthetic statement with my artwork. Many of the pieces I make are driven by the metal. Specific properties in each different metal are what cause me to go a certain way with a shape or form.
Letting the malleability, color, or thickness of my chosen metal take the lead combined with my newly acquired ability to custom cut a stone has really changed my way of making. I'm excited about my latest series, and I really look forward to working on it when I get home at night. Now that summer's almost here, it's still daylight when I get home, and that makes it even more fun because the birds are singing out in the yard while I'm working. When I'm finished, I'll post some photos in the gallery, so keep an eye open!
Download your Complete Guide to Jewelry Soldering now!