Soldering 911: Troubleshooting Your Soldering Challenges with Lexi Erickson
How do you repair a soldered ring with a stone already set in the bezel?
How do you solder copper balls around a brass bezel on a silver ring (or other mixed metals)?
How do you solder very thin wire to heavy sheet without melting it?
Have you ever tried to solder a complex project but couldn’t quite figure out the sequence for the steps? What do you do when you think you’ve done everything right but your solder still won’t flow?
Lexi knows! And if you’ve ever faced any of these or other soldering challenges, you’re in luck. Lexi Erickson is hosting a web seminar, Soldering 911: Troubleshooting Your Soldering Challenges.
Lexi has over 20 years of experience making soldered jewelry, so you can bet that she has encountered just about every soldering challenge there is. She shares lots of tips and advice to help you troubleshoot difficult soldering issues. Don’t miss your opportunity to get advanced soldering advice from our Queen of Soldering!
Learn More About Lexi
JMD: Where are you from originally, and where do you currently live?
Lexi: I’m from Midland, Texas, yep a cowgirl, and I still live in my beloved Rocky Mountains, where I have lived for the last 23 years. Midland is pretty flat, so I was ready for some scenery.
JMD: What do you do besides making jewelry? (What’s your day job?)
Lexi: Jewelry is my day job.
JMD: How and when did you start making jewelry?
Lexi: I started making jewelry in college. As an archaeologist, I was specializing in Northern European Neolithic Studies, and I wanted to learn more about the Bronze Age. A friend suggested a jewelry course, and within one semester, I fell in love with metals and picked up a Masters Degree in Jewelry Design and Fabrication.
JMD: What’s your favorite thing you’ve made for a client?
Lexi: I made the engagement ring for the daughter of the Chairman of the Board for Singapore Airlines. They had delivered to me the most gorgeous, perfect, almost 2-carat diamond I’ve ever seen. I was terrified to have it in my house. I loved doing that project, but I was glad when I delivered it. I don’t work with expensive stones like that. Whew! Then I made her a pair of Padparadscha earrings, so using my favorite stone was a joy.
JMD: How would you describe your personal style?
Lexi: I’m definitely a minimalist-I like simplicity. I started out doing very highly polished simple designs, influenced by my first jewelry hero, Vivianna Torun, who worked for George Jensen. That is one of my techniques I love doing. I’m Danish, I can’t help it. But I have progressed onto highly textured and patinated pieces that look like they were dug up yesterday. They have more romance, and I’m nothing if not an incurable romantic.
JMD: What’s your jewelry-making secret weapon?
Lexi: It’s not a secret at all. It’s “think out a design all the way through before you start it.” Engineer it in your brain. It keeps you from making mistakes along the way. This isn’t saying you can’t change things during the construction process, but it keeps you from making expensive mistakes.
JMD: How do you stay motivated on long projects?
Lexi: Ohhh that’s a hard one for me. I LOVE the excitement of a new idea. I draw it out, fill sketchbooks with words, drawings and thoughts, and then sometimes before it’s started, I’m off to something new. I could be much more prolific with better follow through.
JMD: What has been your favorite project recently?
Lexi: Merle White just gave me an exciting new series for next year’s Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazines . . . an entire year’s worth of projects, and I am so excited about it! It’s right up my alley. I’m thrilled she asked me to do it.
JMD: What’s your current jewelry-making soundtrack?
Lexi: I listen to Hearts of Space—slow music for fast times. It’s loud enough in a studio without the intrusion of loud head-banging music. I want it calm and serene in there so I can think. No words to music, either. They just distract me. I have enough going on in my head of my own doing, I don’t need anything else.
JMD: Do you prefer to follow project tutorials or make them your own?
Lexi: LOL! I write a lot of the tutorials! But I hope the ones I write, others will expand upon and make them beautiful and unique.
JMD: What other creative pursuits do you enjoy?
Lexi: I love to write and am doing research for a book now. Being colorblind, I’m not a very good painter or quilter or anything like that.
JMD: Tell us about your jewelry-making studio. What kind of space inspires you?
Lexi: An organized space, all the big toys, and lots of hammers. I have my basement, which is so much more than so many other artists have, so I am pretty content. It works.
JMD: What would your dream studio look like?
Lexi: Well, it would be clean, for starters. But I find that when I do spotlessly clean my studio, I mean really clean it, I don’t want to mess it up. So maybe a studio assistant would be my first priority, then let’s see—about 3,000 square feet with lots of windows, and a new anvil. I have an old Amish anvil, I would keep it for sentimental reasons, but some new forming equipment and . . . Well, I don’t know, the one I have now fits the bill pretty well. I would love to have a free- standing studio in the mountains of Colorado, New Mexico or Wales, but I have to be real.
JMD: How has blogging and operating a jewelry business influenced your process?
Lexi: I really don’t blog. I figure, who cares what my thoughts are? Even with my jewelry business, when I prepare for shows or for a gallery, I don’t follow trends. I don’t care what the Pantone colors of the year are. My pieces are not something you would pick out to wear with your new blue sweater. If you like my work, and the stones I love to work with, that’s great. I’m influenced by my life as an archaeologist and ancient cultures . . . and that, to me, surpasses any trend.
JMD: Anything else you’d like us to know?
Lexi: As a child, I read the old Lapidary Journal magazines from the time I could read. After I started studying jewelry at the university, one of my goals was to be mentioned just once in Lapidary Journal. I cannot believe my good fortune to have become a Contributing Editor and written so much for a magazine that has contributed so much to my field of knowledge. I feel truly blessed.
You can see more of Lexi’s work on her website, Lexi Erickson Designs.
Lexi’s articles and projects in our top-rated soldering special issues, including Making Soldered Jewelry, have helped thousands of people learn to solder and improve their soldering techniques. Lexi has been a contributing editor to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and Jewelry Making Daily for several years, and she has been teaching metalsmithing for over 20 years. She has hosted several top-rated video workshops, including How to Solder Jewelry and How to Solder Jewelry Vol. 2, Hand Finishing Jewelry, Setting Stones with Bezels, Jewelry Etching on Copper, and Artisan Bails.