Friday, October 11, 2013

Handmade Torch Forged Rings p1

The following is a description of how I begin making my hand forged rings. It is a long involved process so I am splitting this description into several posts. This is the first of these posts.

Torch Forged Rings
Part 1 - Melting to Hammering
made by Ash
Unicorn's Garden

Although I have not been formally trained in the ways of forging I have developed a process of torch forging sterling silver rings. This process began with our wedding bands. I wanted to create rings that weren't part of my standard ring lines at the time. Something that would be meaningful to both of us. The result was beautiful sterling silver rings that are stronger than sterling silver usually is.

I have made other forged rings since making our wedding bands. With the most recent forged rings I made I decided to photographically document the steps of the process I use.

Sterling Silver Pieces in curable
with cuttle bone trough

 I begin with pieces of sterling silver that would otherwise be sent back to my silver supplier. These pieces are placed in a clay/silica crucible with some boric acid and melted with a torch. Once the silver is liquified and impurities are pulled out with a carbon rod I pour the silver into the trough of a cuttle bone that I prepared before melting the silver. I let the silver solidify into a rough ingot (usually more lump shaped than anything else) I quench it in water.

As I don't often have enough time in one day to make a ring from beginning to end I usually schedule the different steps with my other work over a course of several days. Thus why I quench the ingot instead of getting straight to forming it.

Sterling Silver ingot, after cooling, in crucible

When it is time to start forging the ingot into a ring I set it on a piece of charcoal with another piece forming a wall behind it and start heating it with a torch. The charcoal not only provides a heat shield for my working surface but also reflects the heat back into the silver I am working with. Once the ingot is glowing orange I pick it up with a pair of pliers, place it on my steel pounding block, and start hitting it with a steel hammer. I find this to be a particularly fun part of the process as it can be very therapeutic repeatedly hitting something with a hammer for creative rather than destructive means.

Part 2 will be posted on Friday 10/18/13

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