Simple Soldering: Kate Richbourg’s Tips and Techniques Just for Beginners

For a few months now, we’ve had the pleasure of guest blogs by Kate Richbourg, a talented jewelry artist and metalwork teacher with a magnetic personality, on all kinds of soldering topics: soldering with a mini torch, soldering alternative metals like copper and brass, and more.

Well, now I have to confess: It was all a set up! Because I knew that Kate had a great soldering book in the works, and I wanted her to share some of her witty wisdom with us before the book came out and the paparazzi found out about her.

Now Kate’s new book, Simple Soldering: A Beginner’s Guide to Jewelry Making is finally here and we’ve got another chance to learn from her while the book is still on pre-order! Here’s what Kate had to say about soldering and more. Take note, and when she’s (even more) famous, you’ll be able to say, “I knew her back when!”

JMD: Why do you feel soldering is so essential to a metal jewelry artist’s bag of tricks?

Kate: Soldering is an essential skill because it really allows you to create unique pieces for your designs. If you can envision it, knowing how to fabricate and solder means that you can also make it. It opens up a whole new world of opportunities.

JMD: What other kinds of jewelry techniques do you do?

Kate: I do it all. I string, wire wrap, stitch, weave, work with seed beads, dabble in mixed media . . . you name it. But my hands-down fave is metal work.

JMD: What are the strangest things you’ve ever soldered together?

Kate: The strangest thing I have ever soldered together happened when I was doing a huge ring-making extravaganza for Maker Faire. I had a booth where I was teaching the masses how to make a simple band ring out of copper. One lady made a lovely band and then pulled out a dollar coin from her pocket that she got as change earlier in the day. It had Lincoln on it and she thought it would make a cool focal for the ring. So right on the fly I said, “Let’s do it!” and I soldered that coin right on the band. It was the coolest coin ring ever and she loved it. I want one for myself. I just have to find a Lincoln coin.

JMD: Have you ever attempted a soldering project that you simply could. not. finish? Dish!

Kate: I have had challenges in soldering, but honestly, I am so stubborn that I power through projects. If they don’t come out, sometimes that is almost better, as it forces me to troubleshoot techniques and figure them out. I did stumble for awhile when I did not have the space for my traditional jewelry torch and tanks. But that brought me to Butane micro torches and I never looked back. Those are the torches that I use exclusively and now I can solder anywhere.

JMD: I love the premise of your blog, “We Can Make That At Home.” Tell us all about it.

Kate: My blog got its name from something my Gran used to say. I grew up with my grandparents and they were very DIY before it was the “in” thing. My Gran knew how to do so much. She taught me to sew, knit, can fruits and vegetables, make jam, do all kinds of cool stuff. When I was little, all I wanted was store-bought stuff. Gran’s answer most of the time was, “Honey, we can make that at home.” And we definitely did. So now since I love to make things, I figured I could share them under the banner of Gran’s wisdom. The header picture is a photo that my mom took of Gran and me in our back yard dyeing eggs for Easter.

Simple Soldering and So Much More

When it comes to unique handcrafted jewelry components and gorgeous metalwork designs, you, too, can make that at home–and Kate’s new book Simple Soldering: A Beginner’s Guide to Jewelry Making will show you how. “Sometimes as designers we just can’t find prefabricated pieces that match the vision in our mind’s eye,” Kate says in her book intro. “What’s the solution? Make your own, of course!” Simple Soldering is a great learning tool for soldering newbies and beginners who want to start off with soldering and jewelry projects designed just for you, to build your skills gradually–and your confidence right along with them. Kate teaches basics through the sampler method, where you make sixteen sample squares to learn various techniques; then she shares twenty projects to use the skills you’ve learned.

“I have encountered just about every mistake a person can make, and made some of them myself,” Kate says. “I will lead you through the steps to do it the right way and show you how to analyze and fix anything that doesn’t turn out as well as you had hoped.” Soldering lessons and troubleshooting help? Sign me up! Kate’s book is also full of great tips to help you remember the soldering process (like “Heat the metal, not the solder”). And don’t forget that Simple Soldering comes with a two-hour DVD so you can watch and learn right along with Kate. There are points in the book that refer you to the DVD for a “live” viewing of what’s being shown. Pre-order your Simple Soldering book and DVD combo now, before the paparazzi find out!

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