After this last introduction to the metal, I bought some and started experimenting, making the mistake of treating it like standard Sterling Silver and, consequently, tucked it away in my box of metals to be dusted off this week and used with what I can only describe as a rapidly-growing enthusiasm.
The material doesn't behave one bit like sterling... almost everything about it is different: it is unbelievably hot-short; it anneals in a different way; it fuses to itself so that there is no need to solder; it doesn't tarnish or firestain; it can be precipitation-hardened in a domestic oven to make robust catches and pins; it "slumps" more readily than sterling at temperature. Granted, it is about 20% more expensive than standard sterling but some of the advantages of the material mean that for some projects, it is well worth that extra expense.
For me, the two star uses for Argentium are the making of seamless tubing easily - really! - and the ability to harden it for catches. One of the projects we did with Ronda was making a box-snap:
You will notice that I have filed the box down, ready for finishing as it has been fused and not soldered, so there is no danger of any seam appearing when it is re-heated to attach the back to the box.
Seamless tubing is made like standard, swaged and drawn tube but it is not soldered. By fusing the seam, the tubing becomes seamless. Given that pre-made sterling seamless tubing is around 200% to 600% more expensive than sheet or wire, it is well worth the price differential.
There is more technical data on Argentium here.
I've been able to get a bit of workshop time in recently and have been working more on my "Run of the Mill" collection for the "Made in the Middle" exhibition co-ordinated by Craftspace.
I should have one of the pieces for the selling collection finished this coming week.
This week saw the start of the weekend-long "Jewellery Quarter Festival" and as part of the Open Studios Programme, we decided to open the School of Jewellery for workshops on the Friday and Saturday. Sally Collins ran the Contemporary Jewellery workshop on Friday and I ran the Traditional Jewellery workshop on Saturday.
It was gratifying to see that the whole quarter was jumping and the School had around 120 visitors, most of whom were visiting for the first time.
On Friday afternoon, I had the amusing job of collecting the balloons from the irrepressible Tina Francis who is the co-ordinator of the Open Studios programme:
The balloons were helpfully tied up outside each open studio so that the visiting public could see where there were studios down some of the strange alleys which make up the quarter. We had no such problem!
Unfortunately, the deadline for the "Imagine" show meant that I had to head home and spend the evening and most of today setting stones...
And it is nearly finished. I should get it photographed tomorrow, ready for posting.
I'll be on holiday next post!