The tag sheets from the Graphic 45 paper line make fabulous fuss-free artwork for soldered charms. Today I have a triple-layer soldered basket charm to share with you.
I began with three pieces of 1-1/2" square Memory Glass and the Botanicabella Tag Sheet, and from there narrowed down which images I wanted to use in my charm. I took the three tags below, and cut out two butterflies as well.
Next, I placed my glass on top of the paper and penciled in a cutting line. Be sure to cut slightly inside your pencil line, because you do not want paper to be sticking out from between the layers of glass.
Here are my layers. First the back of my charm: I put just a tiny dot of adhesive to hold the butterfly in place. I don't want him slipping around under glass while I am attempting to tape my glass sandwich. Next, the front, except for the butterfly, which will have it's own layer to add a bit of dimension. (A simpler way would be to use only two layers of glass, but use a gray Copic marker to add a shadow for your butterfly, creating the illusion of depth without the extra layer of glass.)
This is my stacked glass sandwich, ready to be taped with copper foil tape. It is imperative at this stage that you clean your glass well. You do not want to discover fingerprints inside your charm after you finish soldering--trust me on this one!
Shown above is my taped glass piece. I normally start and end my tape on the bottom of the piece, overlapping by 1/4" or a bit less. If you have too little overlap, your tape can pull apart and show a raw edge; too much, and your tape may pull off of itself when hot solder is applied. After you have your edges taped neatly, burnish all surfaces to make sure that the tape is in good contact with the glass. Too little burnishing, and you may end up with liquid flux in between your glass and paper layers. (Don't ask me how I know this!) Stained glass artists have a special tool called a fid for burnishing tape to glass, but a Teflon or bone folder works also.
Before you heat up your soldering iron, make sure that you are working on an uncluttered and protected surface. Ellen carries a nice heat-resistant mat which I'm planning to order. Right now I'm using my oldest cutting mat topped with a terra cotta tile fragment. As you can see from the surface of my tile, it is entirely possible to make a mess while soldering; that's why you need to protect your work surface! Make sure that your sponge in your soldering iron holder is wet. You will want to clean the tip of the iron frequently as you work. I normally use a jeweler's extra hands to hold my piece as I work on it. For under $12, it really simplifies the process. (I will show a picture a little later on of the alternative set-up.)
In the picture above, I am tinning my piece; as you can see, the solder does not necessarily look nice at this stage. My goal here is simply to cover the foil tape with a thin layer of solder. If your solder is not sticking well or if it will not spread nicely, you probably need to add more flux.
For me, the trickiest part of soldering is attaching the jump ring at the top when I am finished. I told you that I would show you an alternative setup if you do not use the jeweler's extra hands. Here you see it: two clamps on either side. The rounded brad part needs to face up on both clamps so that your piece does not rock while you work. Also, be sure that the clamps stay on the edge of the piece and NOT in toward the center of the glass. Pressure on thin glass is a sure way to get a crack and have to begin again. (Another one of those things that I've learned by experience. . . Are you seeing a pattern here?) Honestly, despite the little mistakes that we all make and learn from, I love working with glass. There's something about the relative permanency of a glass piece that is very satisfying! Please note: that copper-looking highlight on the top left of my piece is just a reflection of my hand in the solder; it is not a piece of bare copper tape.
My ring is now secured with solder. The easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to try to add just a touch of extra solder where you intend to place your jump ring. Then when your jump ring is placed where you want it, touch the tip of your soldering iron to that dollop or to the base of the ring, and push down slightly. Remember that it is simple to re-heat and remove if you get it in the wrong place on your first try.
Here I have attached a jump ring to the bottom of my piece so that I can add some little findings--beads and a metal leaf.
Here is my finished piece after being cleaned up and having its solder polished. I added a decorative scroll piece to the top, but the jump ring is still there to provide a hanger. The findings at the bottom are pieces that I have picked up over the years to add to cards. While they are not necessary, they add a fun, dressy element.
If you've ever desired to try your hand at soldering, go for it! At this size, you can't have much go wrong that can't fairly easily be corrected. Remember the piece that I clamped too far in from the edge? I simply peeled the tinned copper tape off, re-cleaned the unbroken glass and replaced the cracked piece, re-taped, and soldered it again. A jump ring that's soldered off-center? Melt it off and try again. A little nub in your solder? Use a file to file it away, and then polish it. Have fun!