Show Me How takes us into the wonderful world of precious metal clay this week. Debbie Rijns shows us how to use this medium to make a beautiful copper bangle, and a jester ring.
- Sterling silver strip 1cm x 10 cm x 0.8mm thick
- Micro butane torch
- Half round flat pliers
- Silver solder (hard), and flux
- Steel ring mandrel
- Rawhide or nylon mallet
- Dome block
- Flat punch
- Sandpaper buff sticks 400 / 600 / 1200
- Hard Polish
- 6” flat file
- Small polish mop
- Small polish brush or rubber wheel
- Flexi craft drill/Dremel
Start with a strip of metal that is 8 – 10 ring sizes larger than your final ring size(see ring size chart on page 3). The width of the strip will depend on how wide you would like the dome. Doming will cause the strip to be 10 % narrower. Heat the strip(anneal) with the butane torch until it has a dull grey/white colour with a slight pinkish tint. Cool the ring in cold water and dry it thoroughly.
Roughly bend the ring into a circular shape using the half-round flat pliers, placing the round bit on the inside of the ring. Start bending the strip right from the edge and move towards the middle.
Flux, tweezer, water to quench the hot metal, solder, gas flame, flame retardant base to solder on, and a lighter. Other things to remember: tight gap, clean gap, clean solder, and don’t heat solder – heat metal.
Once the ring has been soldered, you need to remove the hardened flux, which you can do by pickling the ring in an acid solution for about a minute. Remove the ring from the acid, neutralised and rinse the ring in clean water. You need to dry the ring thoroughly to avoid rust forming on the tools. Now you can hammer the ring round using a rawhide mallet, and a ring triblet or mandrel.
If the edges of your ring are uneven, you can file them smooth using a flat 6-inch metal file. Finish the edges with the 400, 600 and 1200 buff sticks.
To dome the ring, select a hole in the dome block into which your ring fits snugly. Then using the punch and the ball peen hammer count the number of times you hammer on each side, to ensure even doming.
Once all the sides and edges are sanded to 1200, you can start polishing. Use the small brush (1) with Unipol polish for the initial polishing and use the small polishing mop (2) for the final polish.
When the ring is “nice and shiny” with no dull areas or scratches, scrub it with an old toothbrush, hot water and dishwashing liquid to remove stubborn bits of polish. Once dry, your new ring can be given a final buff with a polishing cloth.