As I stated in my CLASSroom post, today is a very special day at our house - sweet sixteen! Maddi doesn't ask for much and so it is always so very special when she has something specific she would like. One day I was able to go shopping with her and we went into one of my favorite stores---Fireworks. Most everything in this store is funky and very artistic looking! We spotted a necklace that was soldered and I immediately thought - I can do that!
Our family is quite goofy, I guess you could say we tease, laugh and have an odd sense of humor. So you may not find this as funny as I do, but I am pretty amused by what teens find funny.
We live in a neighborhood that some of the teens refer to as the "ghetto" in our area. There are so many communities that have so much more than we do. "More" is unimportant to us - we love the parks, walking and biking paths and pools that are a part of our community and so I'm proud to be living in the ghetto - LOL! Due to this "ghetto status" our neighborhood has been dubbed "Klahompton" (apparently Compton is the most dangerous city in the LA area and by changing it up just a little using our neighborhood name, well... - who knew?) So on that trip Maddi asked if I would make her a Klahompton necklace to proudly wear - how could I ignore a request like that? LOL!
If you too would like to create a "special" necklace for someone I hope that my experimentation will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of creating a piece like this. I must tell you that this is THE most complicated soldering process I have tried thus far due to the rounded nature of the glass piece. BUT I have picked up some tips that I hope might make your tackling something like this a little easier for you. The beauty of having the rounded glass is SO worth the extra effort! I am proud of the outcome - in fact it did turn out better than the piece I created on my birthday. So the old adage that practice makes perfect is fairly true - I think that I'll change that statement up just a little and state that, practice makes improvements ;-D
I would like to recommend that you read these posts for more of our beginner tips.
I thought I would share my set-up with you. It is so very important to give yourself enough space to create and have your tools at the ready. One of the things about soldering that has driven me a little insane is that my soldering iron stand would move all over the place. I have found a solution! I set my steel bench block on the stand and it now stays put - yippie!
I now own one of the fabulous 2x3 XL misting mats and it covers most of my tabletop area. I have one of those tables from IKEA that has adjustable legs and I have it set at 36 inches so that I can sit on a stool. I prefer working at this height so that I can stand as well if I so desire.
Next I put down a piece of glass and cover that with my white heat proof solder mat. As you can see I use a much larger sponge than what comes with the stand. It is essential to keep your soldering iron tip as clean as possible as you work and therefore the larger size is so much easier for me to utilize.
The last thing I would like to point out from this picture is the way I sit my lead-free solder. Note how I unroll it and use a piece of the solder "wire" to hold it in an upwards position. This makes it so much easier for me to work with.
This little piece is a map of our neighborhood with our ghetto name overprinted - LOL!
I had to experiment with a couple of different types of paper as I worked on this project. The first time I tried this I printed on regular paper, next I tried Neenah cardstock - neither faired so well. I'm thinking perhaps it was due to the heat as the print did not remain clear. I then printed my image on matte photo paper. Yeah - it remained crisp and clear!
The pendant that I created using Graphic 45 remained beautiful throughout as well. So my recommendation for this process is to use either photo paper or one of the beautiful printed papers we sell in the store.
Cut out your copper foil and map using a 11/4" Nestability circle. This size works perfectly with the 30mm Glass Glintz.
Sandwich the paper map between the glass glintz and copper circle, wrapping the copper foil tape as shown.
I am sharing these next pictures from my first project. It was a couple of months since I created the first pieces and I didn't remember which size foil tape to use. I found it much harder to work with the 1/2" foil tape this time and so I would like to recommend that you use the 5/16" tape as shown in the next couple of pictures.
I wrap the 4" length of foil tape around the piece and place my overlapping seam at the bottom. Upon completion this seam will be invisible for the most part, but it makes it easier to hide when at the bottom :-D
Due to the piece being round you will then need to snip every 1/8" or so around the entire piece so that it will fold neatly into place.
Fold the pieces in and then burnish with a bone folder. The smoother you can get your foil in place, the easier it will be to solder! So take your time and work your piece at this point until it is as smooth as possible and the foil is well adhered.
I then use a sharp knife to remove any excess foil from the face to try and get it as even as possible. I like to use my fingertip knife because it is easier for me to manipulate.
Note from this picture that I have tried to press my foil into a fairly smooth surface again using my teflon bone folder. I save one end of my bone folder for "scratchy" work and use the other end for papers.
It is essential to have it affixed tightly so that flux cannot leak down the sides. When applying your liquid flux be careful not to saturate it and have it leak under the foil tape.
The next portion of the process is called "tinning." Be certain to coat your piece with flux so that your lead-free solder will flow smoothly. Use a very thin coat of solder to begin with.
As you can see from this picture I did myself a huge disservice when making this piece by not utilizing the smaller size foil. It was much harder to work with the deep hole I had left myself in the center when having the excess foil tape in place. Being a diehard I don't give up easily and so on I forged.
Another critical element when soldering is to have a soft, wet cloth at hand. I use an old cloth diaper. I wet the entire diaper and use it to clean my hot pieces as well as position them as I work. After each layer of solder is applied and sometimes in the middle I will clean my piece.
I also bandage my pointer finger and thumb on my left hand as I work to help avoid the inevitable burns that may occur if I don't. You must be careful when soldering because the solder lead and the glass pieces become REALLY hot. I cannot tell you how many times I have forgotten that those adorable little silver beads of solder are scalding hot and reached out to touch them - oops!
As you can see I added an additional layer of solder, yet my bottom seam did not want to disappear. This is when I went into discovery mode. The lumps and bumps that I had on my pieces were driving me crazy and I decided to try something new - sandpaper! I had several different sizes of grit that were appropriate for metal, in my studio and so I decided to try sanding. I sanded, buffed and reapplied solder - then sanded a little more :-D
I am absolutely thrilled with the results! I used Tim's sanding block to hold the sandpaper. Having the tool to work with made it so much easier than trying to use the sandpaper alone. I simply cut the different size grit of sandpaper to fit the tool and voila!
Next I placed my jump ring on to my piece using the same method as I showed here. Then holding my piece flat on my damp cloth I added solder to the back. As you can see it is pretty lumpy looking. When working on adding solder to the back be very careful. This piece gets REALLY hot and you do not want to burn yourself or the surface you are working on.
Using sandpaper I smoothed out the back and the sides, being careful not to sand down to the copper surface. Start with a larger grit and work down to a VERY fine grit, finishing the sanding with the solder sanding file. Use the super shiny polish to remove the grit and make your piece gleam!
As you can see it isn't perfect (yet - LOL!) but as close as I'm going to get this time.
I added one of the fun chains that we now carry in our store and plan on giving this to her tonight. A second one is made using the word "Klahampton" as I am the all-time optomist and think on the bright side - I just pretend that we live in the Hamptons rather than in Compton. My little one prefers the Klahampton version - smart girl - LOL!
paper: Matte Photo Paper
accessories: Pure Copper Foil, 30mm Glass Glintz, Soldering Kit (or Soldering Iron, Clamp Set, 5/16" Copper Foil Tape, Lead-Free Solder, Liquid Flux), Heat Proof Solder Mat, Super Shiny Polish, Solder Sanding File, Tim Holtz Sanding Block, Locking Hemostat Pliers, Jump Rings, 18" Antique Silver Chain