Sunday, June 3, 2007

Soldering peaches

In the past week I've made great strides in my soldering skills. You won't think so when you see the pictures, but trust me, the fact that I could get two pieces of silver to stick together at all constitutes a great stride. A few days ago I set aside several hours and a pile of wire to practice soldering. I discovered several things:
  • Sheet solder works for me, paste doesn't.
  • I was using flux all wrong.
  • A third hand (not an actual one, one of those contraptions) is extremely useful, maybe even crucial.
  • My hands shake.
That last thing is why the third hand is so crucial for me. It's also making me extremely nervous, as in "I'm extremely worried that I have a degenerative disease of the nervous system." I don't, but what's life without a little hypochondria?

So, here's the first "piece" - and I use that term very loosely - I made during my soldering practice session. The pieces of wire were left over from a setting I tried to make for a drusy. I chopped them up and laid them out until they took on this basket shape. Then I soldered them together and added a hook. (It helps me feel less pointless to believe that I'm actually making something.) I doubt I'll ever do anything with this, besides gaze on it proudly from time to time.

The next thing I did was to attempt to make two different adinkra motifs out of soldered wire. I chose me ware wo "I will marry you" (which is the symbol to the right) and odo nnyew fie kwan "love never loses its way home" because a friend wants me to make her a necklace using those two symbols and a couple of others. I've made a couple of adinkra symbols out of pmc, but these two seem more suited to wire work. It took hours, but I managed to produce what I'm thinking of as first drafts of the symbols. (I don't have a picture of odo yet, but I'll post one later.)

You can click on the picture at left to see a larger size of the me ware wo pendant, which will allow you to admire my mad soldering skills. Actually, what you'll see is that this one is blobbier than the first practice piece. The reason is that there are so many joins so close together. Still, it hasn't fallen apart yet, so I'm pretty happy.

To cap off a very satisfactory afternoon of soldering, I took a scrap of square 16 gauge silver wire and created....a tiny peach! And, yes, there is actual soldering involved here - the stem is attached to the body with the teensiest bit of nearly invisible solder. I was, as the Brits say, chuffed. So it was with renewed confidence that, a couple of days later, I picked up my torch and tried to make a soldered ring. Forty minutes later had a solder-covered mass of crooked wire - not the design goal I had in mind - so clearly more soldering practice is in order. Still, the very fact that I can think of myself as someone learning to solder, as opposed to someone who can't solder is nice. And I can always look at my soldered peach if I start to think that I can't actually do this %&#!&@! thing.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

oh tru! i feel your soldering pain :-) although i've never created anything as beautiful as your stuff with a soldering iron....i used to solder tiny components onto motherboards for texas instruments laptops. it involved tweezers, a microscope and a dead steady hand! flux is your friend, my friend:-) master flux useage and perfect joints will be yours!