Torch work is probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks for a lot of jewelry makers. Perhaps it is because our mothers ingrained in us early on about not playing with fire? But as grownups, this tool provides so much potential to jewelry making. One online class that really takes the fear out of torch work is Gwen Youngblood's Soldering: Basics and Beyond over on Craftsy.
This seasoned instructor teaches in an easy to follow manner how to solder over a series of 7 lessons. The total run time is about 2.75 hours. The Craftsy online workshop class means students can watch at their own pace or repeat sections as many times as they please, whenever they want. A boon for those who cannot get to a proper class.
The lessons were well structured, building up on knowledge and skills as they go along. Gwen teaches how to solder using a handheld butane torch. Unlike soft soldering (with a soldering iron), the higher temperatures of the torch will allow the soldering of precious metals. Gwen uses predominantly fine silver and copper. Fine silver (99.9% silver) does not oxidize as easily as sterling silver so there is little to no firescale to remove. Sterling silver on the other hand will oxidize during the soldering process due to the 7.5% copper it contains.
Lesson 1 introduces the types of solder, tools and the workstation as well as covers the safety rules. Throughout her class, Gwen showed how being organized about your set up really counts. You could indeed, have such a set up on your kitchen table. If you have the space a dedicated small table will work in your own studio. She doesn't say but it is best to not solder in a confined space and if you have ventilation, even better.
Gwen did not demonstrate how to fill the butane torch which would have been great for this class. But that is not a big issue as there are instructions with the torch.
I like how she holds the torch in her non-dominant hand as it is easier to manipulate small pieces of solder with the solder pick on the dominant hand. Good tip. She also carefully teaches how not to overheat the metal for many good reasons.
She made things easy for beginners in many ways. She uses pickle (mild acid for cleaning the metal after torching) at room temperature - this avoids having to buy or get a separate heatable pickle pot. It takes a bit longer to pickle though.
Gwen prefers to use spray on flux (there are also paint on types) with metal solder cut into small pieces. Some people might prefer using solder paste which contains flux. There are advantages to to her method. She uses the flux sprayed on the entire project. Not just to make the solder flow more easily (by reducing the surface tension) but to protect the metal, particularly copper, during heating. That`s probably why it didn`t take that long for her to pickle the pieces as there isn't much firescale on the copper.
|Sweat soldering : Drying off the flux|
Her demos in Lesson 2 on the torch controls and how she makes balled head pins, closed jump rings and little decorative balls are just wonderful - she proves there is nothing difficult about them at all.
Lesson 3 deals with the basics of how to quickly cut up pieces of metal and how to sweat solder - connect the pieces together with solder in between. This sets up for Lesson 4's advanced sweat soldering where she teaches how to deal with different thicknesses of metal used for embellishment using the 3 types of solder - hard, medium and easy. The result is this lovely pendant made with some flattened copper wire, discs and a bezel cup.
In Lesson 5, she teaches how to bezel a cabochon and cut out the final shape. She teaches so well that you will not be intimidated with this metal smith technique. She includes how to solder bails.
Gwen also shares a number of tips throughout the entire class.Who knew a marker pen would be okay as a burnisher to push the bezel edge in? Her method of making sure the cut edges of the bezel strip are completely flush using a file and spare pliers is clever.
Lesson 6 covers the use of pretty gallery wire to embellish jewelry projects and as a bezel itself. It is tricky because it is delicate and heavily patterned.
Lesson 7 is a must see for anyone wanting to learn to solder wire together. The possibilities are endless once you master how to solder with a torch.
I learned a great deal watching Gwen and I highly recommend the workshop if you wish to learn how to work with a torch. This is a well taught class using just basic soldering equipment and instills confidence in those who might be hesitant about hot connections. Learning to solder with a hand held butane torch is far less scary than having to deal with gas tanks!
A couple of things I do like about the Crafty classes is the ability to add your own notes and also ask the instructor questions if you want to know more about what she uses or unclear about a procedure.
If you'd like to win the Soldering: Basics and Beyond online workshop class, please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info below if you do not have an online shop or blog.
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It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, July 20, 2015 . I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!
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I am now a Craftsy affiliate which means I receive a small compensation when classes are purchased through my blog. The opinions expressed here are entirely mine and mine alone. These would be the same, whether or not I receive the compensation.
Before You Go:
- How to Solder using a Soldering Iron
- How to Make a Rondelle Ring
- Book Review - Hot and Cold Jewelry Connections
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips