Today was Day 2 of the Soldering class at Rio Grande‘s Winter Workshop, again taught by the incredibly clever (and easy on the eyes) Mark Nelson. While today only yielded one overall piece of jewelry, it covered a variety of techniques, solders, and more information on flux capacities (yeah, the geek in me almost typed flux capacitors instead – I just can’t let it go). While I’m finding that I’m still a bit heavy-handed with the torch heat, my “mistakes” aren’t coming out nearly as dramatic this week as they have been back home in my studio. Here is a picture of today’s project. I’ll let you admire it BEFORE I tell you where my mistakes were…
I have to admit that one of the neatest tricks I learned today was how to easily make the bezel bigger if you accidentally make it too small for the stone. This is a problem I’ve had happen on multiple occasions and finding out that I don’t have to waste the bezels anymore is brilliant. I also learned tricks about soldering the bezel to the base that made this one turn out crisper than any I’ve done in the past – even though I DID technically overheat it in the process. You can’t tell unless you look at the back of the pendant though – conveniently enough for me I didn’t photograph THAT side. We also soldered the bail at the top of the pendant with a paste solder – something I hadn’t used before and we later used that same paste to solder the loops onto the end of the chain and to close the jump ring that the clasp catches onto. I liked it for the first two tasks, but nearly botched the jump ring entirely. I don’t have a “feel” for how much of the paste is solder and how much is flux so it feels like an unknown element, whereas actual snips of silver solder are more predictable, in my opinion. However, I will probably pick some up of the paste soon anyway, as it did make the more complicated joints much simpler to circumvent. I figure that after some time and practice I’ll start to understand it better. Fortunately for me, you can’t see the botched up part of the ring in the image I took either, although that was sheer luck instead of deliberate placement. So… as far as y’all can see? It’s perfect!
I don’t want to forget to throw a mention out here for the handsome classroom assistant – Chris Nigh. The man must have some ninja in his blood, as he would slip the kits with the next part of the project onto our benches with catlike stealth (although actually, there must be something wrong with our kittens at home, as they sound like a herd of elephants half the time). He may have been quiet on his feet, but he was quite observant and always on hand to help us with a question – whether it was a query about the project or the local restaurants.
I could say more, but I’m going to keep this a bit short today. Honestly, my life doesn’t normally involve this much intense cognitive function. I usually have my brain geared us to handle the 6 and 9-year-old mentalities of my children. Even on the days I get to spend most of my time in my studio – the majority of it is creative, not cognitive. I’m getting quite worn out by this week and my body has become very adamant that I need to cash it in early tonight. A good night’s sleep should do wonders though. Once I’m done skyping with my kids, I’ll brew a cup of decaf tea and settle into wind-down mode.
Tomorrow – Casting class begins!