Yep. Still here. Still a bit P O’d about you know what, but soldiering on… 😉
The weekend before last I did the art fair. This is when I wished I didn’t live in Houston.
Because of the weather.
Had to change my clothes three times.
I’m so over it.
I didn’t do as well this time. I think it was my attitude. My booth mate couldn’t make it because we had a rain date due to the fact that the heavens have decided to dump every last drop of water it has on Houston right now. I seriously wouldn’t mind sharing it with Alberta.
I can’t imagine what they are going through.
My booth was in-between two friends, but I just felt a little sad and wanted to go home about an hour after unpacking everything.
Was probably putting out some pretty negative vibes and everyone decided to give me a miss.
Dad would have blamed it on Kipper Season.
So back in the studio I’ve decided to concentrate on stepping it up again. It’s taken me a little while to be bothered with it all, but here’s one of my latest pieces.
It seems I still need to pursue the flower design even though I thought I was over it.
I do like this turquoise though.
Just a beautiful colour.
For my next piece I think this is where I’ll stop.
I like how simple and clean it is. My pieces are sometimes a little overworked.
I don’t regret how involved my other pieces are as it has really helped me figure out the whole soldering thing which I have discovered is much less tricky than it wants to be given credit for.
I wrote once about how everything has to be perfectly prepared before you even begin to think about soldering two pieces together, but now I don’t think that’s necessarily true.
Of course to a degree everything has to be fairly clean and flush but, and you’re welcome to disagree with me, I’ve found that it really is all about the flame.
Of course I forgot about all of this when I was soldering, or at least trying to solder, the piece below, but eventually I stopped struggling with it and got, Go on, give it a go Gertrude, out and sure enough, as I’d already learned quite some time ago now, the flame wins every time.
If, my friends, you can only remember one thing from now on let it be this – size does matter…
Here’s the piece waiting to be soldered.
Looking innocently like any other piece I have worked on.
Except it wouldn’t for the life of me solder even though I heated the hell out of it.
Even the silver wouldn’t melt whereas when I first learnt to solder I couldn’t even show it the flame from the next room without the bezel collar turning into a molten mess.
As I have come to find out over time the key to soldering is simply to heat everything up to the same level. If the nozzle on your torch isn’t capable of doing this, nuttin’ ain’t ever gonna solder.
You don’t really notice this with smaller pieces, but when you start on the larger ones until you get the hang of it you can lose a lot of hair pulling it out with the frustration of it all.
Tip. Unless you really like bald don’t keep at it. You pretty much know when you’ve been slogging it out too long. If it isn’t going to solder it just isn’t going to solder so turn the torch off, walk away and go wash those golden locks while you still have them. Willing it with your bloody minded laser vision isn’t going to cut it.
So when I first started I had a 00 tip for my Smith acetylene torch head. This was great until I spent several agonizing hours (read days) trying to solder one of my first larger pieces. Dad and I had many, what the hell’s going on now! conversations before I realized that the 00 just couldn’t heat up the larger area of silver.
So I bought a 0.
This has done me very well and now I only get the 00 out if I want to repair a chain or something small like that, so I was a bit surprised when the 0 wouldn’t work for me. This piece really isn’t any larger than some other pieces I’ve made, except the back plate is a thicker gauge so it could have simply been that.
I don’t have a 1 which is why I had to get, Go on, give it a go Gertrude out.
She’s only a number 2, but man does she fire up.
I bought her a while back when I wanted to melt down my silver leftovers.
If you remember I started out on that terrifying adventure by purchasing a number 4.
Nearly took my head off.
Don’t chance it folks, the number 2 is more than happy to melt anything down for you. She still takes you by surprise every time you light her up, but not to the heart attack level of the number 4.
Now with Gertrude’s super power on my side the problem was everything heating up too much so I had to be very careful, especially as I tend to only use easy solder instead of working down through from hard.
But by paying attention I even managed to get the prongs on without a meltdown.
The thing I did find, however, was that because I had spent so much time heating it all up before getting Gertrude out, the bezel collar had become very crumbly and just seemed to fall apart. I’d never come across that before, but as nothing else was affected I just took the collar out and made a new one.
With a little filing and fiddling I managed to get it back in there.
Now, here are the two things I did learn.
The first from an old guy that I met at the last art fair in October.
Flux the whole piece of silver and not just the area your soldering. O.K. so everyone in the whole world must know this except me, but It really does protect the silver and keeps the whole thing cleaner and you don’t have so much mess to clean up.
The second is something that again everyone must have already known.
After liver of sulphuring, or Black Maxing as I prefer, you can put the darn thing in the tumbler and it does wonderful things…
Tell me why I’m the only one who doesn’t know these things….
I’ve always had a really hard time cleaning up the pieces I make and getting the finish I want but, fingers crossed, this seems as though it might do it for me.
Of course I hadn’t used my tumbler for such a long time because I don’t like ‘shiny’ and didn’t realize that it could do other things that the belt had rotted and broke as soon as I started to get excited about the results.
I have a new belt now.
Here is the piece, and his friend, almost finished.
He hasn’t been in the tumbler yet so I’m hoping he’ll be super great after that.
If not the tumbler’s going straight back in the cupboard…