Saturday, May 17, 2008

How to Create Soldered Glass Slide Jewelry, Part 3

OK. Well, I FINALLY am going to wrap up my blogging 3-parter on soldering glass for jewelry, and with some good news! I thought I was solder challenged but it turns out I just had bum supplies. I am the proud new owner of a functioning soldering system now and armed with some real live class instruction from Lisa Blum of Simply Swank. "SS" offers a full line of soldering products and a book. I purchased the kit and several packets of glass shapes to have some fun creating beyond the 1x3 slide. Check out their website They teach classes all over the country so look for them in a location near you in the U.S.. I recommend the class. It was very fun and had a nice relaxed "you can do this" atmosphere.

Turns out soldering is really pretty doggone easy with their kit that functions well together. In addition to the kit, I recommend the "third hand" clamp tool they sell on their site and the heat resistant surface sheet. I also got some of the wavy foil. I really like the way it looks. Something to note about foiling... use one continuous piece if possible & burnish it to the glass well or it may lift from the heat during soldering.

After wraping your glass edges in copper foil tape & burnishing it, plug in your iron. On the iron stand in the kit, there is a sponge that you should wet too. The iron gets hot pretty fast. Don't leave it sitting idol and cooking away for a long time. When it's hot and sizzles on the wet sponge, go for it. The first time you use it the blue protective coating will burn of the tip. Wipe it off on the sponge. Then roll out a few inches of solder and touch the end to the tip of the iron on both sides until a tiny bit melts to cover the tip, then wipe a few times on the sponge, leaving just a thin silver layer on the tip. This is like "seasoning" the iron. Do it every time you start it up and again before you put it away.

Put your glass in a clamp so it can sit hands free on your heat resist surface with a foiled edge up. (I recommend starting with a square piece of glass the first time as it is a bit easier.) Brush flux just on the foiled edge pointing up. Now place your iron just slightly above the far left corner of the foiled edge and press the tip of the solder on to the top side of the flat tip until a bead forms and rolls off the tip and on to the foil. Now use the tip of the iron top smoothly "paint" the solder blob from left to right with the tip just barely touching. Don't press hard or you can burn through the foil. The solder should flow like melting butter over the fluxed area. Use tweezers to reposition the glass in the clamp, flux the next side, and do the same process with the solder. Continue until all sides are soldered. You may choose to go over it again to build up a thicker bead of solder.

When you are done, you will probably want to add a bail at the top center to put a necklace through. You can use a jump ring or a metal bead with a large hole. (Note, pewter and aluminum will not work.) Don't flux this time. Just make a mound or blob of solder on the top center and let it cool. Grab the bail with plyers and position just over the top of the mound. Now touch the tip of the iron to the top of the mound. As soon as you feel it give way/melt, move the iron and push the bail into the molten solder and hold it there until the solder sets (a few seconds). If it's crooked, melt it off with the iron and start over.

You can now use a fingernail file & sand paper to smooth the solder. Then use solder polish to bring it to a shine or patina to change it to black or copper. Polish is available through "SS". Patina is available from stained glass suppliers. (Note, the patinas are pretty harsh chemicals so not for the faint of heart. Use caution.)
Pretty simple & fun stuff! Granted, to get a really nice plump and smooth bead takes practice, but you can make a perfectly wearable piece of art jewelry on your first try with the right tools and instructions! Go for it!


Vie Chaotique said...

This post is just in time for me. I want to try to make some charms but am not very handy. I was researching what to get and saw the simply swank but wasn't sure i wanted to invest. Seeing your post I do think I'll give it a whirl.

Heidi said...

I was wondering have you seen the bubble glass that you buy at a craft store? Artists have been putting a picture on the back and a bail to hang from....I was wondering how to hang a bail from it...Also do you know a good website for cheap silver plated, or something that looks like it...beads and/or chain. I love your work thank you for your help!