I am back on the tutorial posts after my holiday with this great looking DIY agate necklace. I have been practicing a new jewellery making technique using soft soldering. The technique is used in making stained glass but can be used to make jewellery as well. It doesn’t use a open flame so a little easier to use at home than a silver soldering torch (but it still gets very hot but you know to be careful).
A soldering iron is used to melt tin and is “painted” on to copper tape treated with flux. It is strangely soothing to do. It also gets very hot so watch your fingers. I didn’t use pliers (which was foolish) in this tutorial but I am going to invest in some that can hold the agate slice in the middle and enable to reach all the edges.
It is quite cheap to buy a soldering iron from eBay and you can even buy starter kits containing the flux, solder and copper tape. A lot of the flux and the solder you can buy contains lead which is not great for having next to your skin and it is illegal to sell jewellery in the EU that contains lead (and nickel but that shouldn’t apply here unless it is in your jump ring and chain but then no one should be selling them to you in the first place.)
The solder leaves this lovely organic ripple effect over the surface of the tape. You can make it smooth if you slowly run the hot tip of the iron over the metal if that is more your thing.
I have lots of ideas for further projects using this technique including rings and earrings so expect to see my soldering iron again soon…
You will need;
lead free tin solder;
lead free flux;
heat proof mat;
1. Measure the length of copper tape you need by wrapping it around the outside of the agate slice. It needs to overlap slightly.
2. Peel the backing off the tape and wrap it around the edge of the agate slice. You need about 1-2mm overhang of tape on each side of the agate slice.
3. Pinch the tape so the edges stick to the front and the back of the agate slice. DO NOT run your fingers along to push the tape down. You will get the mother of all paper cuts.
4. Use the side of your scissors to flatten the tape and remove any wrinkles.
5. Use a small piece of tape to fix the jump ring in place.
6. Paint the flux all over the tape. Don’t worry of you get some on the agate. The solder will only stick to the fluxed copper tape.
7. Heat up your soldering iron and melt some solder on to the tip. Use a heat proof surface.
8. Paint this over the copper tape. Melting more solder on to your solder tip as required. If you get lumps and “spikes” in your solder just push them down with the hot soldering iron.
9. Allow the solder to cool and then wash the remaining flux away. Thread your newly made agate pendant on to a chain and admire your new necklace.