Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sketching In Silver Series Update: Soldering

This post is an update of my Sketching In Silver: Portraits series, which has been at the top of my to do list for some time. The idea is to pierce a portrait of an historical individual using well known British portraits for inspiration, then solder some silver sheet onto the back to strengthen the pierced design. It did work the first time that I tried it with my portrait of Elizabeth I
However, since then I've had a few expensive disasters that are frustrating and disheartening when the solder ran and obscured the pierced design as you can see from poor Anne Boleyn below
Now, it's a poor workman (or woman) who blames his (or her!) tools but I do think that the technique of pallion soldering that I was using was incorrect for this type of work. Pallion soldering is when you cut up tiny pieces of solder and melt them using a butane torch on a fire brick. Anyway, after some serious contemplation, I alighted on the idea of using silver solder paste. My reasoning was that the solder is powdered and combined with flux in a syringe so it should melt quicker and stop the silver from getting too hot and melting or the solder from running too freely. A bit more research and I decided to use hard solder paste (there are several types of solder: hard, medium, easy and extra easy where hard is the most commonly used.) Last night I had a go at making a Walter Raleigh pendant and apart from the extremely noxious fumes that the solder paste produced (seriously this should most definitely be used in a well ventilated area and if you possibly can, outside!) by jove I think I've got it!
The design seems securely soldered onto the sheet at the back and as you can see, the solder hasn't run and engulfed the design as before. The original portrait miniature that this image is based on is by Nicholas Hilliard and it is part of the National Portrait Gallery's collection. It is unfortunately not currently on display. Now I just have to decide what design to use as a frame and then solder on some links to attach the beads that I want to use. Of course it could still go very wrong when I solder the frame on but fingers crossed all will turn out well!

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