So… It’s been a while. I managed to catch the first flu in ages, and it turned me into some kind of particularly floppy amoeba, and I was able only to lie in bed and feel sorry for myself for quite some time. Ugh. I forgot how awful that feels. But I finally managed to get myself together, and started work on a new, experimental piece. Experimental, because I’ve never made a locket before. The fact that I will have to make a hinge pretty much terrifies me 😉 That locket, however, is the reason why I got delightful new toys: my little butane blowtorch proved to small, and couldn’t get the piece hot enough, which meant that solder wouldn’t flow, no matter what. I had to buy bigger torch. And I did. And it’s a real monster, but I already love it 🙂
Here you have it: the new, propane/butane torch, with my little, trusty iroda for comparison
See what I mean by “monster”? It’s actually not the model I intended to buy at first ( I had one other option available), but this one has piezo ignition. There is gas control valve as well, though no way to control air flow, nor a kill switch. However, with the size of the flame that beast produces, and how hot that flame is, the air control doesn’t really matter that much, it gets the job done in seconds. I would prefer if it had a kill switch, but that’s my personal preference, the torch is easy to use and works like a charm. It runs, as I mentioned in caption, on propane/butane mix, and reaches 1750 C. The other model I could buy reaches 1800, but it was heavier, and, as I already stated, without automatic ignition system. I don’t think that this 50 degrees makes any big difference, 1750 is plenty hot for my uses. As I mentioned, the torch produces big (not to say: huge) flame with the burner it came with. Good news is, there are replacement burners available, in several different styles, including one called x1650 extra fine burner, and, according to the producer, that one is suited to jewellery and model making. Bad news is, that particular burner proved to be hard to find, practically unavailable in the UK. I had to order one from Germany, pay ridiculous postage price, in effect paying for burner alone as much as for the torch itself(which came supplied with the default burner you can see on the picture above, and with one gas can). However, it was delivered yesterday, and I’m really glad I bought it: the smaller burner can make really big flame, but, contrary to the default one, it can also produce a really small one, and everything in between. And that’s really helpful, because the smallest flame the default tip can make is still so big it’s difficult to even see what’s going on on the soldered piece. All in all, it was totally worth the price and ordering from Germany.
The fine flame burner is on the torch, the default is laying next to it. Not much difference on the outside, but a big one performance-wise. Also, all the paints, polishes, and what-not are not present on the table when I’m actually soldering. Just so you know 😉
Naturally, after I brought that beast home, I just had to see how it works. I soldered one wall of the locket on… and decided that my magnesia block is no match for it (that was before I bought the fine burner). I rummaged through the internets, found out that charcoal block can, apparently, withstand up to 3000 C, and decided I need one. I also bought a soldering board to rest the block on, and to protect my table from the heat the monster’s flame is giving off- it’s significantly more then what my butane torch is capable off, so I found my old set up not satisfactory. When I’m using the big torch, I’m using magnesia block to elevate the charcoal one, or as soldering surface, but only when I need to use pins to hold or prop something in place. When there is no need for pins, I’m using charcoal with the third hand(if needed) I bought together with it and the soldering board.
New, on this picture yet unused, shiny charcoal block, on top of my old, much used and abused, but loved, magnesia block. You can also see the soldering board.
I must say, I was a bit surprised by the weight of the charcoal block. I’m used to magnesia block, which is really lightweight. Also, the charcoal retains heat much longer, and.. how should I put it… retains more heat than magnesia. Logically it’s pretty obvious, but I was a bit surprised after I touched the side of the charcoal block after the first use. The sides and the bottom of magnesia block are almost never hot after soldering, only the surface I was soldering on, and that cools pretty quickly. The charcoal block has very different properties, but I rather like it.
The charcoal block, magnesia block, soldering board, third hand with tweezers, beginning of a locket, and a really weird perspective.
As long as I’m writing about surprises: the weight of the soldering board came as one as well. I blame the magnesia block for all this. It just has to be so light, and confuse people, doesn’t it?
I’ve seen on several blogs, read in several interviews, that some, even rather accomplished, people really don’t like the third hands, and can’t work with them. I never used one before I ordered this one, so I took it as a bit of a gamble. I was a little afraid I will buy a tool I won’t use, but happily, that was not the case. It works well for me, and is quite a bit of help- I’m especially happy I don’t find it irritating, or difficult to work with, as otherwise I don’t know how would I soldered the bail I designed for the locket, in the place I designed it to be, without something like the third hand ( I just love that name, by the way).
In case you would like to see the locket in progress, here you go:
Sorry for the bad pictures. I took those photos the day before yesterday, and today it already has all four walls, I even soldered one hinge knuckle. I’m not sure if it’s in the right place, though… Tomorrow will be the day of truth, so to speak. Also, what you can see here is the back of the locket (obviously), I’m planning a red abalone cabochon on the front. I could have it finished today, but my pickling solution stopped working, and I have nothing to make a new one from, so it has to wait until tomorrow. Which means I have a full evening and approximately half a day before making the dreaded hinge!
That’s… pretty much it. Oh, I may just add that I had this idea to somewhat link all my passions in my jewellery designs – by which I mean biology, evolution, palaeontology, and art. I do what you can, if you’re being generous, call paleoart , I adore our beautiful world, and find the life’s history absolutely fascinating, I love all the diverse lifeforms, extant or extinct, and I was thinking about making jewellery featuring not only animals that are alive today, but also those that lived a long time ago. Knowing myself, those would be mostly synapsids: land living animals that led to, and contain within their ranks, mammals. You know, things like Inostrancevia, Dimetrodon, saber-toothed cats, and so on. I’m still not sure if I will do this, but that idea gets me all exited 🙂
Here, have a Homotherium latidens as a closing illustration:
Homotherium latidens, known as scimitar cat. Homotherium is a genus of a saber-toothed cat that lived during Pliocene and Pleistocene, ranging from Africa, Eurasia, and Americas. Latidens is Eurasian species.
Oh, I just remembered. I sold a pair of earrings to… Australia, of all places. That’s a long way from me. And here I thought orders form USA were going far, far away from home…
Have a great weekend!