Over the past few weeks, I’ve been acquiring and setting up a home metalsmithing station in my jewelry studio. After Third Ward closed in my neighborhood, I wasn’t sure what sort of in-home options there would be, but I am pleasantly surprised at what you can do with a little mini soldering torch!
After some research, I picked up this blazer micro torch and am really impressed with it! I’ve only been making small things so far, but it really does well, and is super easy to use at home. With the huge oxygen/acetylene tanks I’m always afraid something will go awry, but this little guy is the best! It was recommended on a lot of sites because it gets a bit hotter than your average torch. So far I’ve been making little stacking rings and earrings. Can’t wait to see what else it will do!
In addition to the torch, I picked up a few other materials:
I’ve been super impressed with how well all of this works at home. Two things that are easier than in the metal shop: soldering paste and penny brite cleanser. The soldering paste comes neatly packaged up with your solder and flux already mixed together! So, you don’t have to buy as many things, and your ratio is pre-mixed to the right proportions! This stuff is so easy to work with. And, penny brite. One thing I hated in the big studio was the toxic pickle solution that cleaned the oxidation and fire-scale off of the metal. Penny brite takes a little more work, but it cleans it off just as well! And, it’s a non-toxic completely safe-to-use-with-your-hands cleanser. It’s actually used to clean your pots and pans. (And it works on all metals, not just copper.)
The first thing I started to make with my new torch are these hammered stacking rings. I started with a piece of wire, wrapped it around the ring mandrel a few sizes smaller than my ring size and cut the wire. Then, I filed the edges, and soldered the ends together. Next, I hammered the wire out to my desired ring size, using a chasing hammer. I love the little hammered look it creates on the ring.
I’ve made a few rings now out of sterling silver, brass and gold fill and am user testing them for durability, wear and how well the polish holds up. I am in love with them, and catch myself admiring them while I type away at work. As soon as I’ve passed them through my QA inspection, I’ll make a new batch, and they’ll be up in the shop for sale!