Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Sometimes I drive myself crazy with the details. For instance, today, I made a box bead as a sample for a class. I wanted to attach a chain to it. And of course I decided that it needed to be soldered.  I may actually do some wire wrapped stations on the chain, but I wanted the initial inch to be soldered to jump rings. Can't have open jump rings! They might snag on something and come apart.

a resin decoration will go into the circle

The problem comes in when I try to do things in a haphazard way. Let's face it. I'm not a skilled metal smith. Why? Because I don't do it often enough to become skilled.  But I know just enough to get myself into trouble.  I *think* I know how to do certain things, like solder a simple jump ring, but I push other knowledge out of my head to achieve my goal. 

Things like the fact that the box bead is huge and the chain and jump ring are tiny.  The huge bead will act as a heat sink and it will be difficult to accomplish the simple solder joint. Especially with the less than totally professional tools I own. But I go in full blast anyway.

What might I have done differently to help? I might have used a product called Cool Gel or even a piece of wet paper towel to cool down the bead. Then the flame would have been able to concentrate on the task at hand. (I like to anthropomorphise just about anything - hence a flame that can actually think). 

I also might have gotten the solder pick out at the beginning of the project so that when the solder balled up and fell off I could have just picked it up and put it back where it belonged. But nooooo. I had to let the dang thing cool down enough to add another squirt of solder (I use paste). 

Or I could have sanded the dang jump ring when it had oxidized. Don't I know that solder won't flow on dirty metal? It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't gone through the sequence of unsuccessful attempts 10 times.  No, I'm not exaggerating.

And all this after I had melted the chain in my very first attempt. That should have told me something. I should have started on paperwork or taken a walk or washed the dishes right then. But I persevered.

And don't you know that the perseverance paid off!  The joins are done. Unfortunately so am I, so the rest of the project will have to wait until tomorrow. And now of course, I'm not sure I like it after all. Geesh. I need a breather.

Luckily I'm going out with my friend Tana tonight.  She got the brilliant idea to score tickets to the opening ceremonies of the Ice Skating World Championships which are right here in L.A. this week!  Woo Hoo!


Marbella Designs said...

Oh my, I just took a soldering class this past weekend. And that's how we practiced; closing jump rings. Sorry for all you went through but thanks for sharing it. It will help me think things thru whenever I try it again.

Paige said...

sorry you had nothing but trouble. If it's any consolation I think the box is great. And hollow form boxes are a pain in the a@&.

And on a totally separate note check out my very first test blog and tell me what you think so far. I hope my blog comes up on this comment. If not email me and I will send you a link.

michelle said...

I came across this tip in a book, where someone was soldering lots of little things that were attached to larger items that would steal your heat. They buried the part of the piece in an annealing pan and left only the part they wish to solder sticking out and found it easier to focus the heat on the smaller items that way. I havent tried this yet,but thought I would share incase it helps.

Maggie S. said...

Lora, FWIW, I think the box bead is great, even before its resin ornament has been added. Be proud that you were able to complete your soldering successfully with so many interim obstacles! :)

Cherylyn said...

I know this "dance" all to well. I can really relate. I'll fight with something so long, finally throw it into the pickle and try again the next day and WHOOSH - all better. I sometimes wish there was a "command z" in life. (mac term - undo)
Hope you enjoyed the Ice Skating

Susan Dilger said...

I SO feel your pain! Glad you finally got it!

Anonymous said...

Don't we have class tonight?

Anonymous said...

Nevermind, I thought you wrote this today (Wednesday). :)