A passion for silversmithing

STERLING SILVER : Noun, meaning silver of 92 and a quarter percent purity.....

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Using up scrap sterling silver

As a silversmith I save every tiny scrap of sterling silver that is left over when making jewellery. It is too precious not to. Even the dust when I am sawing is caught in a square of leather on my lap and tipped into my scrap jar. You have to be very careful not to mix fine silver with sterling, or let any other metal into the scrap jar. That way you can be sure that when you reuse the scrap that it is pure sterling silver. 

I love to experiment with scrap silver, trying techniques I have not tried before. In this post I have turned some scrap silver into a beautiful free form pendant. The first batch of photos showing the making is my second attempt - first attempt produced the pendant at the bottom but I didn't take any photos during the making. 

First I melted a small pile of scraps on my pitted old solder block. This gives it a nice texture on one side.



Once it is a molten ball of silver, wobbling in the heat, I gently but quickly flatten it with the smooth side of a charcoal block. I am sure there are better safer ways of doing this but it works for me!



The scrap silver after being flattened - very pleased that this one has a hole in it, it will add interest.


Then I put it through my rolling mill a few times.....


...in between annealing it to make it soft and workable again, as rolling it work hardens it.


 I keep going till it is thin enough and large enough to form into a pendant.



Then I dome it gradually working down from a large wooden doming punch .....


to smaller steel ones...

and work down the doming block using smaller and smaller bowls will it begins to form into a ball. Again I needed to anneal a few times to soften it.


After doming......



After pickling to remove oxidisation, it goes into the tumbler for a couple of hours which smooths off the edges. Some hand filing and sanding was also needed to remove some pointy edges. 

I wasn't sure intially what to make it into. It would make a lovely statement ring but wouldn't be practical. So Pendant it would be!

The photos below are the first one I made. I soldered a half jump ring onto the top to hang it, and soldered a small silver pebble (also made from scrap) to the bottom. It looks like a drop of water.


I hung it from my favourite belcher chain from Cooksons. Initially it wasn't right - not quite balanced as a piece of jewellery so I added the sterling silver bead as well. Oxidised the finished piece in liver of sulfur then polished, mostly the outside, to leave the inside with a dark patina.

I love it, more than anything else I have made. It's not going in the shop, it is most definitely for me. I will be making more to put in the shop, and of course every one will be completely different to the others, completely hand forged, unique and (in my biased eyes) beautiful......





5 comments:

  1. ahhhhh I was about to go to your shop and buy this and then saw you are keeping it… I loooooove it. Can I BUY the next one you do? pleeeease pally

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  2. Hi Stephanie - lovely isn't it (bighead that I am! I have two ready to hang on chains. Will do you a special listing and send you a link

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  3. Love it! Gonna have to check out your shop!

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  4. fusion is a beautiful thing

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