Sunday, August 19, 2012

Soldering Silver Bead Fest Class!

SUCCESS! I did NOT solder any part of any component to myself. Actually, that would be impossible, but I was so tired, I could imagine it happening to me.

The first class I took at Bead Fest this year was on Soldering Silver Components. I have wanted to learn how to solder for a while, mainly to create some closed rings for use with my jewelry. When I saw the class, I signed up, even though it started at 8:00 AM. In my summer world, that is the equivalent of about 4:00 AM to the rest of the world that rises early.

So armed with a coffee that was so small it wouldn't satisfy a toddler, I stumbled my way in to the class.

It's as small as it looks. Actually, it's smaller.
The teacher of the class was Mark Lareau. I realized that I had a book of his on wire work (I'm a book junkie). All Wired Up was one of the first wire-working books I had purchased.

Mark was a great teacher. He had the rare ability to take some technical material and make it so easy to understand. I was able to quickly understand why soldering was a preferred method, versus the use of the "paste" used in many cheaper components. He was also very enthusiastic and open with his knowledge. If you ever have a chance to take a class from him, go for it.

The one thing he made us do that was painful was think. At 8:30 in the morning. Have a mentioned I'm not a morning person? But he charged us with the task of designing a piece that needed to be soldered in multiple places, so we could jump into the fire (no pun intended). This is what I came up with in my foggy brain.

Kind of reminds me of a health class poster...
But the exciting part is that all of the pieces stayed attached to each other! There is definitely a slight learning curve with soldering--it reminds me of lampworking in the sense that you have to *know* your material and at what point in it's heating cycle it's at.

The soldered piece; a few gaps, but not too bad!

So I got brave and tried to make a flower. Now I would do it totally different if I try one again, but it was good practice in making some shaped rings and trying to solder a lot of points in a small area. You can see that there are some chunks of solder still there. I was so concerned with overheating the silver that I didn't wait for the solder to flow.

The "flower", even though it didn't work out quite like I had planned, was the best learning tool of the day. This is what I like the most about good classes--they give you a chance to play and experiment and actually learn; sometimes learning what not to do is much more valuable.

My final piece was simple. I wanted to make a component I could use to make earrings. I just soldered together a couple of "S" shapes, and voila!

Not too fancy, but they will make a pretty pair of earrings for my personal collection!

When I have more energy, I will post about my other class, with Gail Crosman Moore!

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