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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Techniques, Tools & Processes Used When Filing Precious Metals

Filing is an essential technique in jewellery making, and although simple in concept following proven practices combined with the right equipment and tools, ensures the job becomes a breeze.

Filing Precious Metals

Filing is used in jewellery making to remove excess metal, even out surfaces, smooth or to shape, form and texture pieces.
The actual files come in a variety of shapes, grades / cuts and sizes The shape of the file you choose will depend on the job you are completing i.e. flat files are used for straight edges or convex curves e.g. the outer edge of a disc, and curved files are used on concave curves - e.g. inside of rings.
The cut describes the arrangement of teeth and therefore the amount of material the file will remove and the surface finish it will leave. The most often used and useful file is a medium cut 2 file, this general purpose file removes material quickly, and leaves only light markings which can be easily removed.

Common types of file types

In terms of types of file, both needle and hand files are the most commonly used in jewellers workshops. The common shapes of file are Flat file - a general use file for use on flat surfaces and outside curves, Square file for use in grooves or inside angles, Three square file for tight angles and difficult to reach areas, Round files for inside curves, Half round file for inside curves, Knife files for limited access corners, Crossing files for inside curves, Safety back file ideal for tight angles as serrated edge are only on one side.

Fitting a File Handle

Needle files have an integral handle; however hand files often require a handle to be fitted. To fit your handle place the file in a vise with the 'tang' (where the handle is fitted) pointed upwards, then heat the tang until red hot ensuring you direct the flame upwards. Push the file handle onto the hot tang allowing the it burn into the handle. Then tap the handle with a mallet until the handle is secure.

Filing Techniques for a straight line.

When filing ensure that the metal is secured, as an unstable bench peg/metal will lead to inaccuracies and mistakes. When filing a straight line use long strokes, applying pressure on the forward stroke. Make sure that the file is level and that you watch the metal to ensure accuracy plus allowing the jeweller to continually assess the pressure/placement of your next stroke. When filing you should work a steady pace, as an aggressive technique increases the chance of inaccuracy. Many jewellers mark there metal as a guideline to measure progress and to see where they need to file.

Filing techniques for curves (convex)

With a flat faced file place the file on the metal and push forward using a sweeping action that follows the curve, ensuring the file is level. Use marks to guide the filing process, and check the surface whilst filing.

Files - an essential jewellery tool

Skilled filing is a key technique that once mastered gives the jeweller great control over shaping metal, and forming designs. However initially it takes practice, concentration plus a level of intuition to ensure accurate lines or curves are achieved. A complete jewellery tool kit will include a full selection of files - both needle and hand, of all shapes and sizes and cuts, and become some of the most used tools at the bench.

Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of supplies from over 10,000 products including [http://www.cooksongold.com/category/Jewellery-Tools/]jewellery tools, findings, precious metal clay, wire and precious metal sheet - gold, silver, platinum and palladium plus technical information for jewellers, jobbers, designer, craftsmen, artisans and students.
Article Source:
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Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Solder Earposts to Precious Metal Clay

Making Hollow Beads Out of Precious Metal Clay PMC

Making hollow beads out of Precious Metal Clay is a good way to keep your pieces lighter weight, and use less PMC per piece. That means that the jewelry you end up with would be less expensive to the end user. It also allows you to make much bigger pieces that won't weigh the customer down when they are wearing your piece.

In order for the hollow beads to keep their shape, you need to make a placeholder for the center of the bead.

A good material to use to make the placeholder is cork clay. Here are the steps:

Making the mold or placeholder out of the cork clay.

Cork clay comes in a plastic wrapped package and is damp. It can only be formed when it is wet, so you definitely want to make sure that you keep the package tightly sealed. Once it is dry, you can no longer work with it.

Take a piece of the cork clay and mold it into the shape for the inside of your bead. You can make as many of these as you like.

Decide where you would like the hole to cut through the bead.

When you have decided where you would like the hole to be, take a wooden toothpick or similar item, and push it through the cork clay. Leave the toothpick in the the cork clay. There should be ends of the toothpick sticking out on both sides. When you fire the bead, both the cork clay and the toothpick will burn up in the kiln.

Let the cork clay dry overnight. Do not put PMC over the cork clay while it is still wet.

Now you have your mold or placeholder.

Making the bead.

Now that you have the placeholder, you can form the bead around it.

Use olive oil to moisten your hands and work surface. Just use a few small drops of oil. The work surface should not be slick.

Use your plastic roller to roll out your PMC to 3 or 4 cards thick.

Remember that you do not want to waste any of your Precious Metal Clay, so put any excess back into the ziplock bag.

You can either cut out the shape beforehand or form the clay around the cork clay and cut the shape as you go.

It is best to have a slight overlap where the two edges join together and seal the overlap with paste or slip.

If you want to press a design into the PMC, do it before you form it around the cork clay. If you want to etch a design into the PMC, wait until you have formed it around the cork clay, then do your etching.

Next add any embellishments that you want around your bead. You can add PMC paper cut outs, additional pieces of rolled out PMC, or filigree with the syringe.

Make sure that the bead dries thoroughly.

After the bead is dry, green finish it with an emery board or light sandpaper. You may need to fill in any holes or cracks with slip. Let it dry again, and repeat the process until you are satisfied with your work.

Fire your bead in your kiln at the proper temperature. The cork clay and toothpick will burn away.

To clean your bead after firing, you can use a wire brush and polishing cloths to do it by hand, or a tumbler. Each gives you a different finish.

Learn more about this author, Paula Atwell.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Making the Most of Your Precious Metal Clay (PMC) Use.

When using Precious Metal Clay it is important to remember that it is an expensive material. Therefore, you want to make sure that you do not waste any of it. PMC is not a clay really, it just looks like clay. Every bit of it can be used to make a piece.

Here are some tricks to making the most out of your Precious Metal Clay:

Whenever you open a new package of PMC, take out just what you need to use, then seal the package up again to keep your clay as moist as when you opened the package.

Then, as you use the clay, and cut off scraps, put the scraps back in the package as well.

As you are working with the clay on your work surface, it will dry out. To keep the clay moist, dab a small paint brush in water, and brush it over the drying areas. PMC typically dries the fastest on the outside surfaces that are exposed to air.

Once you have used the PMC, and it starts to dry out too much to be easily used, put it in a ziplock bag overnight with some drops of water. By morning it will absorb the water, and be usable again.

If your clay has become completely dried out, you can still reconstitute it.

Take your lump of dry PMC. Place it in between two sheets of paper. Get a rolling pin, and roll the PMC between the two sheets of paper until it crumbles into dust. Then remove the top sheet and bend the bottom sheet into a U shape and pour the powder into a ziplock bag. Add water little by little, over time, to reconstitute the PMC. The more water you add, the thinner the consistency of the PMC will be. If you want to make paste or slip out of it, you will add more water. If you want to get the consistency of lump clay, then you add less. Leave it overnight or over 2 or 3 three nights for the water to properly reabsorb.

All PMC can be reconstituted in this way, except for PMC sheet. Many experienced Precious Metal Clay artists make their own slip and fill their syringes with reconstituted clay. This is one way not to waste any particle of the material.

Another hint is to save all of the dust that gets filed off your green pieces as you green finish them. The dust is great for making slip. Just throw it in a small jar with water and keep adding to it until you get the slip consistency that you like. Depending on what you are using the slip for, you may want to keep 2 or 3 different densities of slip. One for finishing a rough surface, another for filling in cracks. When you make your own, you can control the feel of it until you get the consistency exactly where you would like.

Just remember not to waste any particle of your PMC. You will be amazed at how many pieces you can make from one small package.

Learn more about this author, Paula Atwell.