Fusing Sterling Silver Wire and Sheet in Orchestrated Spontaneity
Master fusing sterling silver wire and sheet for unique designs with a signature look
By Linda Lurcott
I love jewelry making! And I love using techniques that produce organic-looking results. My first torch was so hot (too hot, actually) that it gave me organic results alright–usually by melting. Fortunately, when I joined the Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths, I had the opportunity to learn from internationally known master instructors. (Thank you, Lexi Erickson, for inviting me to join and for finding the best workshop instructors.)
My previous melting experiences really prepared me for taking a workshop on fusing sterling silver with Marne Ryan, because I learned what sterling would look like just prior to a total meltdown. Also, I had finally acquired the appropriate torch with multiple sized tips and a better sense of flame control. Thank goodness!
Not only did Marne graciously share her technique for fusing sterling silver and show us such great organic textures and patinas, she also reminded us of our humanness when she’d tell us to take breaths to lessen anxiety. It was good advice. She offered us visual imagery, such as “sweep the flame across the metal like a paint brush.” As I began to experiment using a variation in gauges, torch tips, temperature, I gained confidence and became very inspired to explore fusing sterling silver more.
As I applied my own muse, I was able to create my own designs utilizing Marne’s process. I love to design texture with both spontaneity and orchestrated technique. In my studio I applied what I had learned about fusing sterling silver using the materials I had on hand: a lot of wire!
Torch use, Soldering, Sawing, Rolling mill use
1/2″ by 6″ 28g sterling silver sheet
3 to 5 feet sterling silver wire – 15g, rolled to 21g
2 to 3 feet sterling silver wire – 17g, rolled to 21g
3.2mm 18g square-wire sterling silver jump rings
hard, medium, and easy silver solder
Hand: Sandpaper 400 grit and 600 grit, green scrub pad, wire cutters or Joyce Chen scissors, hand file #2 cut, needle file set (various shapes), jewelers saw, saw blades 4 /0 cut, round nose pliers or bail making pliers, flat nose pliers, bench pin, safety glasses, dust mask or respirator
Fusing: Smith torch with tips 1, 0, or 00; striker; self-pickling flux like Battons or MY-T-Flux from Rio Grande (can dilute with water); spray bottler (for flux); large rectangular charcoal block (wrapped on narrow edges with twisted wire); fire brick; solder pick; copper tongs (to remove sterling from pickle pot); bowl with water for quenching; pickle pot (crock pot); pickle solution (PH swimming pool cleaning agent); third hand with cross locking tweezers; insulated cross locking tweezers
Rolling: Rolling mill, paper napkin
Filing And Polishing: Flex shaft; 3m abrasive tip (red narrow bullet is medium grit; fits on threaded mandrel); 3M abrasive disk (black flat edge and knife edge medium-high grit); 3M abrasive radial spiral disk (“spider leg;” use 3 on mandrel together held on with a tiny screw); small screwdriver; mandrels to fit each tip; felt-coated polishing stick; Tripoli polishing compound (or your preference); polishing papers; polishing cloth; rotary or vibratory tumbler; 1-2 pounds mixed shapes stainless steel shot; steel curved burnisher
Finishing: Liver of sulfur, glass bowl or jar, plastic disposable spoon, dish soap, old soft toothbrush, brass brush (soft), fine metal cleaner diluted according to label (Sunsheen for gold and silver)
LINDA LURCOTT has been a lifelong “maker” and has enjoyed metalsmithing for two decades. It’s in her blood; her great-grandparents owned and operated a jewelry store in NYC with her great-uncle, the metalsmith. Linda has served as a board member of the Pennsylvania Society of Metalsmiths, where she had the good fortune to have studied with several master metalsmiths. She enjoys sharing her passion with classes, workshops, and articles, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project is featured in the May/June 2018 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. See inside this issue in the Lookbook!
See this project and many more, plus gemstone and metalsmithing news and products in the May/June 2018 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.