Week 5: Silver Dreams
Week 5: Silver Dreams
Back at the wonderful Goldsmiths’ Centre this week! This week’s goal: to make a silver ring in less than 4 hours. Can the cohort cut it?
Vicky Tawamana, an expert in silversmithing, was the lead facilitator for the day. She led the group through making a silver band ring from initiation to completion using techniques such as annealing, soldering, sizing, sawing, hammering and polishing.
Feel the Anneal
Vicky started by demonstrating the art and science of annealing silver using a blow torch: the process of heating metal to a cherry red colour to soften it, meaning it becomes pliable and can change shape as needed! Using a small flame on the blow torch, Vicky moved the torch very slowly side to side against the strip of silver to demonstrate the change in colour and heat of the metal.
Eager to put knowledge into practice, the participants calculated ring sizes using ring size gauges, vernier gauges, calculators, and even our trusty smartphones. With precision, determination and calculations, we cut and filed the silver bands to size.
Vicky's magic continued as she demonstrated the process of printing into heated silver using patterned brass plates through a hand-cranked rolling mill (very Victorian indeed). We watched as the plain bands of silver transformed before our eyes when they came through the other side of the machine!
Measurements & Mandrels
Using a vernier gauge to measure their bands of silver, the participants marked where they needed to cut silver off their rings, and used a tiny band saw to get there! The silver bands then had to be filed to ensure no loose or wonky edges remained.
We then annealed the silver bands for a second time!
Using mandrels and rawhide mallets, Vicky showed the group how to hammer the silver bands into a ring shape. It’s certainly not an easy task and not for the faint of heart! A lot of sweat went into it and a few frustrated swear words floated around!
Soldiering through the Solder
Now bent into a recognisable ring shape, the demonstration silver was then soldered to allow the solder metal to flow upwards into the ring gap and complete the ring.
Vicky walked the participants on how to use polishing mops on a pendant motor. We couldn't wait to get our hands on these tools, ready to refine our creations. With determination and a glowing sense of pride, the cohort polished their creations.
A Happy Band of Silversmiths
The participants were so pleased and amazed that they were able to make a silver ring in such a short span of time. Do you think you learn how to make a silver ring?!