Friday, February 3, 2012

Roll It!

The Aspiring Metalsmiths have chosen to post tutorials for the January blogroll.  The idea is that we will all share a technique in which we are proficient.  I probably shouldn't have signed up for this one because I certainly do not proclaim to be proficient at anything related to metalsmithing since I've only been doing this for a little over two years.  But  I thought I would share a technique I learned recently (which I'm sure is nothing new to my teamies).  So, big disclaimer right up front - I am not an expert.  This may not be the best or correct way to do this, but it's been pretty fun to play with.  I actually am not completely sure of the name of the technique.  Rolling mill inlay?  Anyway, here goes!

First, I cut out my background piece.  In this case I chose a rectangular piece of 18 gauge copper.  Next, you'll want to cut out an image which you would like to inlay on the copper.  I used a scrap piece of sterling I cut from a spoon bowl, roughly 24-26 gauge.  Note, neither of these pieces needs to be perfect because the shapes and images will be distorted slightly.  It's part of the fun!


Now, I sweat solder the silver cross to the copper back plate.  In this step, it's important to make sure the solder flows completely around all the edges of your image.  Next, you'll want to pickle and clean up your piece.  

And now, roll it!  This is the fun part!  I love to watch the image squish and distort.  I'm weird like that.  Take care to do this slowly and gently so that the metal doesn't crack.  Although, on a couple of my first pieces using this technique, I did force it and kinda liked the cracked effect.


 <--- This picture was taken after two passes through the rolling mill.  All together, I think I put this piece through 7 or 8 times.  It's really up to you as to how flat you want the inlay, how thin or thick you want your final piece and how distorted you want your image.

Now, I have finished rolling the piece.  At this point, it may be necessary to hammer your piece flat.  Or you may choose to shape it differently.

                                                                                     Next, I chose to round off my corners a bit.  Then, I used my disc cutter to punch a hole at the top of the piece to make a pendant.  Obviously, at this stage, the steps will vary with whatever you choose to do with your inlaid piece.

And, here's my final piece.  I gave it a spin in the tumbler to polish it up and added a leather cord.  This has been really fun and interesting to experiment with.  The possibilities of this technique seem endless.

Thanks for humoring me!  Now for some real educational enrichment, check out the posts from my much more skilled and experienced teammates:

Sylvia Anderson 
Metals Addict
Lilian Ginebra
Amy Estelle
Mary Anne Karren
Shannon of Gifted Designs
Pennee- All Wired Up Jewelry Designs
Jessica @ Abella Blue