At a recent class I taught, a students ring didn't fit quite right. So we decided we'd try and make it a bit larger.
This is usually not a problem and with repeat annealing, I've made rings two sizes larger with no breakage. However, this ring was constructed as a Double Fired Ring and the connection between the band and signet wasn't quite sintered or connected together.
I'm sure we followed the Theory of Diffusion and fired it for at least an hour on the second firing, but in a hurried class environment, it's quite possible that we did not. It was also the first time this student had made a ring so it's quite possible that the connection wasn't as good as it will be the next time she tries the same technique.
This is the beauty of learning. I am a big proponent of creating learning situations in class. There is no such thing as failure. There are only more opportunities to learn. That's why you are there. It's not that you want it to happen to a student or to yourself, but truly it is the best thing!
This student did do a great job on her ring. I was so proud of her tenacity as I know at times she wasn't sure what she had gotten herself into. Certification is challenging, as it should be. When sizing up the ring to make it a bit larger, that connection came open.
I told her that I would be happy to repair it and ship it to her at a later date since there just wasn't time to do it during the class. As luck would have it, later the next week, a good friend brought me her ring that had broken also. She also asked me to repair it.
What's the likelihood of being asked to repair two rings in one week! Obviously another teaching opportunity had presented itself loud and clear. Any hoo, I decided to document the entire process for these students so they know exactly what I did. It's a good thing I did, because I learned a lot and wanted to share my findings with you too.
Make the break seam as flush as possible. I made sure the metal was annealed by heating with a torch and air cooling. The rings were then wiggled and gently hammered so the seam was a flush and snug fit.
I could have soldered the joint after burnishing the heck out of the fine silver, but I wanted to finish it with metal clay by refiring. Most students don't have soldering skills but I highly recommend taking metalsmithing classes to round out your skill set and expand your knowledge.
I mixed up the Art Clay Oil Paste and flooded the seam. I haven't used this product a lot, but many rave about it. So having a plethora of supplies and tools available to me (having Whole Lotta Whimsy's warehouse on the premises has it benefits), I decided it would be the perfect product for this project. I dried the Oil Paste overnight.
**By the way…the best way to stir up any sort of paste is with a swizzle stick. I always tell my students that their homework after class is to get some kind of fancy drink (alcoholic or non) after class but make sure it's got a swizzle stick 😉 They are mini pestles!
I then fired them in the kiln to the directions given by the mfg: 1470F for 30 minutes. This goes against the theory of diffusion, but what they hey, I follow directions.
Cut off binding wire.
Put on mandrel and gently hammer ring to round it up.
Swear softly when the joint pops open and repairs have to be repaired.
Cut off binding wire of second ring. Surely the first ring was just a freak incident.
Swear, not as softly, when second ring breaks like the first ring and with not much resistance.
Walk away and set intention for repairing the repairs again tomorrow or a later date. I will try my old tricks and see if they work. Oh goodie…another learning opportunity
Second repair…saga continues
Repeat steps 1 and 2 on both rings. Oh yes, start by filing off oil paste fired metal from ring. Don't want to ruin the ring by making unsightly blobs over the seam.
Step 3: Mix up PMC3 Paste with French Lavender Oil. Let it sit for a bit. Okay, you are supposed to let it sit overnight or so, but I pretend to be Jeannie (I Dream Of) and give it a cross-armed nod, and we are good to go. I am now applying this to the seams. I then, in my state of immense patience, stick these puppies in the dehydrator.
Step 4: They are now put into the kiln and fired for 1 hour at 1650F.
Step 5: Remove from kiln and cut off my beautiful binding wire cages.
Step 6: Place on mandrel and whack them back into a round shape. Wha La….no breakage. Perfectly repaired seams. No repairing the repair. You can get an old dog to try new tricks, but often their old tricks are best. I'm sticking with my homemade PMC3 Oil Paste. It rocks! This homemade product also smelled better, was easier to work with and filed easier in it's prefired state. It also dried faster and was less expensive.
Step 7: Using half round file, file off excess metal. Remember, push-lift, push-lift, etc.
Step 8: Using Trizact 3M abrasives, sand the inside of the ring to smooth out all imperfections. Don't forget your safety glasses when using rotary tool. I also where gloves because that ring gets hot!
Step 9: Using 3M Radial Disks, sand and polish the inside of the ring to a desired finish. I love it when the insides of the rings gleam at high shine. They beg to be worn. No visable seam! What breakage? It's awesome!
What have be en your experiences with Oil Paste or Homemade Oil Paste? This was a great test of products because it applied force to the repair afterwards. I'm sure the Oil Paste would have held if not put under stress. I'd love to hear from you.
Leave me a comment, please.