Thing One: It's hard to see the seam in teensy jump rings! After perfectly closing the jump ring, holding the seam to the light to make sure it's really closed completely (solder won't jump a gap - so one side of the ring MUST touch the other side), and moving from the fabricating area of my studio where my pliers are to the soldering side of the studio - I've completely lost track of where the seam is so I can place the solder! It's also a rule that solder won't flow if the metal is dirty. But just what constitutes dirty?
I mark each end of a jump ring with black marker prior to closing it so I know to place solder in the marker gap. The marker doesn't seem to interfere with the solder flow at all! In fact, sometimes it burns completely away before the metal has gotten to temperature.
|Each side of the open jump ring marked with Sharpie.|
(Please pretend I've had a manicure)
:: Bonus Tip :: If you're trying to anneal silver and are not sure when the job is done - mark up the work with black marker and when it's burned away, the annealing is done!!
Thing Two: If you heat the solder too fast, the solder balls up and drops off. And/or if you have the flame too high/big, it will produce just enough wind to blow the solder off the workpiece! So frustrating. The solution is to hold the flame a little away from the workpiece until the flux has started to burn out. Then as it gets a little glassy, it will hold the solder (which has indeed formed into a little ball) in place. I play the flame around the piece and perhaps on the most distant part of the silver until it seems like the solder has stuck, then I hit and run with the flame right on the join until the solder flows. Then just to make sure - I play the flame back and forth in a slow sweeping motion until I'm positive that solder is on either side of the seam. Then I quench. Then I try to open the jump ring with pliers to make super sure it's soldered. Then I fist pump myself in celebration.
|Closed jump rings on the soldering board. The thin chain is |
underneath the earring piece so it has less chance of melting.
I use paste solder (about the size of a poppy seed for something like this jump ring) and a butane torch that has a flame adjustment and make sure it isn't too long (hot), but also not too small (cool). Remember the three bears - you have to use just the right amount of heat to get the job done. It's a practice thing. And I don't always get it the first time. Sometimes I have to try, try again. One of my favorite sayings is "Practice makes proficient". I don't believe in perfection. I'm happy to be pretty darn good. Where would the excitement and pride come if I did it right every time???