Monday, November 3, 2008

A work in progress

So October was a really long and tiring month. First my kids had the flu, then I had it, then I had to get through 6 birthdays; two of which were hosted by me for two of my 3 boys! Needless to say all of this led to my "ahteesty-ness" falling to the wayside. Finally, between my hubby's generous donation of his entire CD collection (put up to auction on eBay) and the little bits of money I managed to save, we scraped together enough to finally buy me the torch kit I'd been dying to get since my soldering classes this summer.

I bought a Gentec small torch kit that runs on oxygen and MAPP gas. At first I thought I was doomed to never make a thing, I got lost trying to find the shop where I was supposed to pick up the torch I ordered (like an hour driving around the same block lost!), then the first oxygen tank I picked up from the welding supply place had a leak (they made me swap my new tank for a pre-filled one). Then, the first piece I soldered just wouldn't solder no matter what I did! It ended up scorched, blobby and resembling crumpled tin foil much more so than a sterling silver bezel setting. I cried and was ready to give up. "You would think I hadn't learned how to do this before, what am I missing?!" I showed the piece to my husband and his reply was simply "ouch".

The next day was Halloween so I put the torch away and decided I'd think on it over the weekend and just spend time reading every tutorial I could come across on the subject. I read up on flame types (neutral, carburizing, oxidizing, who knew there was this much to a simple flame?!) I read up on soldering techniques- heat the piece over a gap so that air can circulate and it doesn't get too hot before the solder liquefies. I read polishing techniques, I watched YouTube videos, I shopped at Home Depot for some 220, 400 and 600 grit sand paper to polish with.

Armed with my fresh knowledge, I decided I was ready to wield the torch for a second time. I took my time, got the flame just right and in a couple of minutes I had my first piece successfully soldered together! I soldered a second piece in the same manner and that, too was successful! Phew, I didn't waste all this time and materials for nothing!

While I am not completely finished with these pieces yet, they are a far cry from the burnt toast piece I originally made. The first is a setting for sea glass. I have purposely left a large free form backing because I will be drilling holes and attaching jump rings; it will be the focal on a sterling silver Viking Knit bracelet made by my friend, Paula. The triangle shaped piece has not been filed, sanded or polished yet; this photo is right after I removed it from the pickle. It is for a piece of Blue Willow China I found on the beach this summer. I think I will make a pendant out of it.

So while I am not yet the ahteest I dream of becoming, I am at the very least, taking baby steps to get there. Much like my jewelry, I am a work in progress.

1 comment:

Lexi said...

OMG they look so great!!!! WOW! I am so psyched that you're going ahead with it! It sounds like a terrible month, but wow- those look *good*!!!!!!
Go you!