The Lockhart Lavender image has always been one of my favorites, so I was really happy to see an itty bitty version of the Lavender! It's the perfect size for a little charm. (Actual size of charm: 1-1/4")
First, I stamped my IB Lavender image on Neenah Solar White cardstock in Memento Tuxedo Black ink, then I colored it using the Copic markers shown below. See the marker with the blank cap end? That is a custom marker--an empty marker that I filled with about half blender fluid and half YR31. (Y21 is very close and would work great as well.) I use this very pale, muted yellow to add a warm glow around an image, especially if my image is predominantly cool in temperature. Since yellow and purple are contrasting colors, the small amount of yellow really makes the violet tones pop.
After coloring my image, I used a 1-1/4" circle punch to punch it out; I also punched a piece of Memory Box Echo patterned paper to cover the back of the charm. (Since markers show through the cardstock, you need two paper layers sandwiched between the glass layers.) Next I cleaned my glass pieces. This is important--trust me! Besides the fact that copper tape won't stick well to glass that has skin oils on it, you also don't want to see a fingerprint soldered on the inside of a piece. (We won't mention why I know this. . .)
When your glass layers are clean, sandwich the focal image and back cover between the two layers of glass and wrap the glass in copper foil tape. As you will see later, I used the scalloped-edge tape for added interest; but plain copper foil tape would work well too if you prefer the look. It is important to try to get the tape evenly overlapped on the glass around the entire edge. If you have deeper tape in one area and shallower tape in another area, your solder will also fluctuate. If you are not happy with the position of your tape, remove it and start over. You cannot "fix" a poor taping job with solder. Picture 1 shows the back of the piece before I burnish the tape down into place; that's about how much overlap of tape I have on the back side.
When all edges are satisfactory and your tape ends are slightly overlapped (about 1/4" on a piece this size), you will need to burnish the copper foil tape down to the glass. Be sure to burnish the outer edge as well as the front and back. If you have a fid, use it. If not, a bone folder works quite well for burnishing.
You are now ready to begin soldering. You will want to make sure that your work surface is safe and appropriate. Although you may be aware of all of the tips below, the mother and teacher in me says that I need to share them anyway!
- If you have a heat-resistant mat, use it. I use a quarry tile to work on. When solder drips, it lands on the tile and does not harm my counter top. I can also pick up the fallen solder with the tip of my soldering iron and reuse it.
- Wear safety glasses when you are soldering. Occasionally when hot solder hits cool, wet flux, you may have some spattering.
- Your soldering iron holder needs to be sitting on a flat, protected surface with plenty of space around it. (You wouldn't want a pile of scrap paper near the tip of a soldering iron for obvious reasons.)
- An 800-900 degree soldering iron, and children and pets do not mix. Also, you should never leave a soldering iron unattended, nor should you leave flux and other chemicals in reach of children.
- While this is not a safety issue, I should mention that if you are just beginning to solder, it is simpler to solder a straight-edged shape such as a square or rectangle, than it is to begin with a circle or oval. The molten solder tends to stay on a straight, level edge; but you have to work a little differently with a curved edge since solder tends to run down on it.
Let's get started! The little clamp that you see in picture four is mounted to the arm of a jeweler's helper. It's a fairly inexpensive and very useful little tool for holding your work steady. Here I am coating my copper foil tape with a liquid, acid-free flux. In addition to the acid-free flux, I will also use lead-free solder. (You don't really want a standard lead solder staying in contact with your skin.)
After fluxing my copper tape, I will use the tip of my soldering iron to apply a thin layer of solder on all of the exposed tape. If the solder stops sticking well, you probably need to reapply flux. It is important to keep the tip of your soldering iron clean too--frequently wipe it off on a damp sponge so that the tip stays shiny. After applying a thin coat of solder over the entire piece, you are ready to bead the solder up on the little scallops as shown in picture 5. In takes some practice; be patient with yourself!
Often the toughest part for me is getting a jump ring or decorative scroll on straight. Several people have e-mailed me asking for help in this area, so I know that I am not alone! I find it simplest to use my jeweler's helper to hold the scroll or jump ring in place, and my small clamps to hold the piece straight up. This gives me both hands free to work with my flux and solder. I usually clean my soldering iron top, then dot a small drop of solder on the back side of the scroll. This tack it into place and gives me time to see if it is still positioned correctly. keep in mind that it doesn't take a great deal of metal to hold a scroll or jump ring in place! If you keep adding solder, you will end up filling in all of the lovely scrolls: less is more!
Shown in picture seven is my finished piece after cleaning the glass and polishing the solder. You can use a special solder polish, or you can resort to card wax in a pinch. Soldering these little pieces is a fabulous hobby! Think of the one-of-a-kind presents that you could make, or the fabulous Christmas Tree ornaments. If you begin with the necessary basic supplies, and if you follow some basic safety rules, you can do this--have fun!