A little aluminum vs. sterling experiment

Screenshot at 2018-08-07 10:22:40

 

I did a little experiment a couple of days ago in my own facebook   https://www.facebook.com/NiciArt/  and a metalsmithing group I belong to that is also in facebook .

My posting there asked the question ” which is which ? ”  What guitar pick is made of sterling and what is the aluminum . Just by looking at a picture . When I did the math about 76% percent picked the wrong metal – by the way the left guitar pick is aluminum the right is sterling .

Now why do this experiment at all and what did I want to gather with it ? My point was that when you buy online not everything you see that is silver is in fact sterling silver . If the price is too good to be true it most likely is . I have seen websites offer sterling silver rings and other jewelry for the fraction of what it would cost someone to buy from me or any other metalsmith .

When you shop online you cannot feel and smell the metal – aluminum feels very different from sterling as does steel or some other silver looking metals .

Even looking at the little stamp 925 ( mostly inside the jewelry or on the back ) does not guarantee that what you get is in fact the real deal .

So when buying online be careful out there . Again – if the price is too good to be true – it might very well be …. 🙂

 

 

 

 

guitar bypass ring

made this today – gold bypass ring in shape of a guitar

made this today - gold bypass ring in shape of a guitar

I started with a mock up in bronze ( much cheaper )

I started with a mock up in bronze ( much cheaper )
20 gauge ( 0.8mm thick ) is what I use i bronze or gold as I have a hard time bending things by hand with those 2 metals 18 gauge ( 1mm thick ) I use for copper and sterling silver as both metals are softer and not as springy

I drew the shape out on a piece of label paper

I drew the shape out on a piece of label paper
make it 3 inches long as you have to “bypass ” the ends and anything shorter will look odd label paper is sticky on one side so its perfect to transfer shapes to metal for the cut outs

my trusted jewelers saw

my trusted jewelers saw
I like to use a 6 inch saw frame ( distance from blade to the back of the frame) and 1/0 saw blades – they are very fine and will move well around the corners

cut out shape

cut out shape
I have several hole punch pliers with different punch out sizes – this one is a 3mm – you need a bit of strength to punch so I tend to sit on the end to make it punch though

added some texture

added some texture
hardened steel punches and chasing tools will last you forever

number 2 file

number 2 file
I filed all edges to make the ring nice and smooth for comfort

foming the ring

foming the ring
I start out with bending the ring around the mandrel with my fingers and then pound it in shape with a non-marring nylon hammer , the head of the hammer has sand in it which gives you a bit more umpf you will work harden the metal when you hammer so it will hold its shape nicely

formed ring

formed ring

cleaning up the inside with a flex shaft

cleaning up the inside with a flex shaft
its basically a dremel with a flexible hose the outside I polished with sandpaper first , starting with a 400 grit and then going finer and finer all the way to a 2000 grit and then ultrafine

finished

finished

rocking 🙂

rocking :)

Rock and Roll fo your arm

 

Sterling silver ” Rock and Roll ” cuff bracelet

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I used a 20 gauge 6 inch by 1 1/4 inch strip of sterling silver for the base and 18 gauge sterling silver for the guitars and the star. The shapes were cut out with a 6 inch jewelry saw and 1/0 saw blades. Personally I prefer the german saws and saw blades as I found the quality to be outstanding , but I might be biased because I am german.

I used a template to draw the guitars right on the metal and then sawed them out .

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After sawing out the shapes they were soldered via sweat soldering onto the base strip then quenched in water and after that put in the Pickle pot to clean the metal from the black oxidation.

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I used an abrasive wheel to quickly file and round the edges – Cratex Medium wheels work very well for that . I like to use my polisher with the wheels because its fast and if you run a business you need to be fast but also have a high quality . I cut down my filing time from about 20 minutes to about 30 seconds .

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When you are finished with filing you edges you can add texture . I have several chasing tools made from hardened steel but I also use screw drivers and other things.

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Now comes the bending part . I am not very strong with my hands and that is the reason why I am using 20 gauge for my base plate, if I use anything thicker than that I would not be able to bend it anymore and would have to use the metal press.

For shaping my bracelets I prefer to use a wooden mandrel and a nylon hammer they are soft and will not leave any marks in your metal

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as you can see after pounding and bending you get a nice oval shape . There are also round mandrels if you prefer a round look . I run the bracelet through my polisher one time to clean the metal and prepare for the liver of sulfur patina . The cleaner the metal the nicer and more consistent your patina gets.

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Liver of sulfur gives you a nice dark gray patina. A word of caution , liver of sulfur stinks like rotten eggs so try to do it in a well ventilated area or your hair and clothing will smell too. Even though my husband always knows when I play around with it 😉

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After the patina I polished the bracelet again an only left the darkness in the pattern and texture

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If you liked the post , maybe leave a comment and let me know 😉

Flaming guitar pick

Rock and Roll Baby ………….

sterling guitar pick pendant with brass flames

the reason – just because I wanted to and I can

I cut out some equal sized guitar picks

one in 20 gauge sterling and one in 20 gauge brass ( copper or bronze will work too ) I filed the edges round with a number 2 file ( pretty fine )

draw your flames onto the brass pick and start cutting with a jewelry saw and 1/0 saw blades

flux your brass flames and add solder – heat with torch until solder melts

solder both sterling and brass together

after quenching and cleaning start filing with a number 2, 3 or 4 file

see the gap ? gap no good , better start filing

file until the solder seam is smooth

start polishing

I just left the metal raw and satin looking and did not add patina drill a hole

add a jump ring and a chain and start rocking

thanks for looking 🙂

winged guitar pendant in sterling silver

This guitar pendant is a bit more involved and I would categorize it in the more intermediate difficulty.

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As almost always I made this one from sterling silver and I love it if I may say so :)

and here is how to do it . Draw your guitar with 2 wings attached on a piece of paper and glue to your metal – I use 18 gauge sterling silver ( if you go thinner then that your fretboard might bend on you. Draw a second set of smaller wings separately and glue this also to the sterling silver . Cut everything out with your jewelry handsaw . also cut out a heart. I use a 6 inch jewelers saw frame with 1/0 saw blades.

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After cutting out your shapes clean your metal with sand paper to ready it for soldering . Flux the back of your small wings and heart and add your solder- I use hard silver solder in wire form . There are many different kind of solders .I happen to like stick or wire solder the best. Heat with your torch until the solder melts and spreads out. Quench in water

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Flux the front of your guitar with the wings and put the smaller wings and the heart onto it solder site down . Heat again with your torch making sure to heat the meta evenly . I usually darken the room a bit so I can see the solder flow around the edges better . Usually when your metal gets to the red hot phase your solder should have molten . Quench in water again and take a look that there are no gabs . If no gabs you can put your piece in the pickle solution for the clean up.

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Your sterling silver will turn from black to a dull white when its ready to be taken out of the pickle . Take it out with copper tongues and only copper tongues or you might ruin your solution . Never quench a hot piece in your pickle or touch with your bare hands . Its an acid and as such dangerous.

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Now you can add some texture with chasing tools or anything you have ( nails , screw drivers ect. ) Pre-polish with your flexshaft .You can put any finish on it that you like . I like a satin finish and thus use an 80 grit bristle brush , you can also use steel wool or sand paper and a bit of elbow grease. Add patina ( liver of sulfur ) and polish again until you like what you see. Punch or drill a hole for your jump ring and hang on a chain 🙂 Gift to somebody special or keep it yourself ( I kept mine )

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Like what you see but are unable to make it yourself ? You can always visit my shop and have a look around 😉

www.nicilaskin.etsy.com