Friday, November 22, 2013

Mishaps of the Torch Forged Rings

Mishaps of the Torch Forged Rings

 My latest posts were on the process I use to make sterling silver forged rings. Those posts covered the process and work involved in making the rings. What those posts did not include was the mishaps and damage done while making them. Jewelry making is no exception to the possibility of things going wrong and some things did go wrong while I was forging those rings.

Singed carpeting from dropped hot sterling silver
The first was during the first of the last hammering session. Yes there was a second set of hammering sessions but I will get to that in a bit. This was a simple mistake that thankfully did not have disastrous results. While I was moving the bar of red hot sterling silver from the charcoal blocks to my steel pounding block I didn't have a good enough grip on the silver with the pliers and the silver fell to the floor. I am really glad that I don't like the carpeting in my studio because it got singed the moment the hot sterling landed on the floor. I was able to pick the silver up quick enough that the carpet didn't catch fire but the carpet is now branded for life. Had the carpet caught it would have been a simple matter to put it out. Not more than 5 inches from where the silver fell is my quenching container. I keep water in there constantly so the container would have been quickly dumped before any major damage could be done.

Finished rings
 The second mishap was in the soldering process of the Ogham ring that wasn't caught until it was an issue. While I was working on sizing the ring the solder joint partially broke. I decided to cut the solder joint and re-solder the ring. This was a mistake that I have learned from. While I tried to cut the joint itself I actually cut slightly to the side of the joint. When I was soldering the ring for a second time the first solder joint melted and I ended up with a narrow piece of the silver ring shifting out of place. I have realized since then I should have forced the joint to finish breaking instead of trying to cut exactly on the joint. The result of choosing to cut the joint was having to remake the ring from scratch. I melted the ring with some extra sterling silver and proceeded to hammer that ingot into the stock for the band. I was quite frustrated and working against a deadline so I don't have any photos of this mishap.

The final mishap occurred while I was remaking the Ogham ring. The pliers that I was using are one of my favorite pair of needle nose pliers. They were a nice set of well made old pliers that my mom gave me after she had used them for years. They helped me fix my husbands bike after I accidently broke one of the aluminum screws while we were working on the bikes carbs. Had these pliers not been such a nice pair I would not have been able to get the broken screw out of the carb bowl. The
My poor broken pliers
teeth bite into the metal just enough to hold the silver securely while I am hammering but not so deep a bite that it is impossible to remove the marks without too much difficulty if the ends aren't cut off.  The jaws of the plier have a beautiful long taper to small pints which is perfect for holding the metal without getting in the way. As I said they were a nice set of pliers. After I melted the ring and was starting to hammer the silver into shape for the band I brought the hammer down hard on the tip of my pliers breaking one of the tips off. I quit working on the ring for the night after breaking my pliers. The next day I finished off the hammering with a different pair of pliers that have no sentimental value what so ever. Since I took the photo of the pliers I did find the tip that broke off. It has been sitting on my computer desk since. I am thinking of making something else out of the pliers. That won't happen until we get a proper forge going. Until then the pliers will be kept and perhaps turned into a snub nose pair.

Issues like these arise out of the blue while working and I often learn from them. When I can't find a lesson in it I add it to the list of "Well that was dumb." Thankfully the list of success is far longer than the that was dumb list.

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