Friday, January 21, 2011

Lots of practice

When making earrings I usually make dangly earrings with ear wires since that is what I wear. But I need to remember that not everyone likes this type of earring. I'm finding out that many people wear small earrings with posts. My mother is one of them.

Several years ago I gave my mother a small pair of earrings made from a mold of a button that required a post (although I also made some of them to hang from an ear wire.) Since I hadn't soldered in oh..... 36 years I was a little hesitant about soldering on the earring posts. But no problem, there is a remedy for that. Just buy fine silver earring posts that can be fired in place. They have a nice big pad for lots of contact with the earring surface which makes them so easy to use. For ease in use they are worth the extra cost (as they are not cheap.) The drawback to using these is that fine silver is soft and bends easily. I know to be careful when using them but most people don't. So, the post on one of my mother's earrings broke. (Not sure how long ago, she never wants to bother me.)

My mother also bought a small pair of earrings on an ear wire. She thought they were small enough that she wouldn't mind them dangling..... but she did.

So, I took both pair of earrings. One to be repaired and the other to be reworked. Two summers ago I took Linda Kline's earring extravaganza class at the Arrowmont Retreat. We learned how to solder on metal clay and it really wasn't all that difficult. (Silly how we shy away from things out of fear.) Since then I do simple soldering on pieces like earrings and pins and am able to use my small kitchen torch. (I always thought I would need one of those fancy torches.)

Soldering on metal clay requires a clean surface (a freshly fired, unbrushed piece is best.) Then the silver molecules need to be compacted as much as possible by burnishing the area to be soldered. Since metal clay is very porous it is necessary to use more solder than usual. (I use easy paste solder.)

Now here is where the "lots of practice" comes in. First I had to remove the other post and file the surface of both earrings (solder will not fill in gaps.) I set up my firebrick on a piece of tile and soldered on the earring posts to both pairs. The earrings from the button mold were curved, so I laid them into a carved out area on the firebrick. This made them level for soldering.

All went well and I had two pair of earrings soldered. As I was cleaning up I noticed that the earrings posts were really pointed and thick. So.... I took a second look at the container of earring posts and found that they were not posts at all but tack pins. (I should have known.... nothing ever goes that smoothly.)

More work! I removed the tack pins with the torch, cleaned the pieces again and soldered again. Only this time things did not go as smoothly as before. The button earrings gave me some problems and I got even more soldering practice.

Since the one pair of earrings originally were hanging from ear wires, I had a hole to deal with. I turned them upside down and added a silver bead with a small jump ring. They still have a slight dangle to them but I think my mother will be okay with that.

What did I learn from this? Check twice..... solder once!


Meg said...


I enjoy reading your blog. You have a great sense of humor !

Alice Walkowski said...

Thanks Meg..... I try!