Author Topic: Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?  (Read 1516 times)

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LotsaRocks

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Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?
« on: March 11, 2016, 09:12:06 AM »
I've tried the wire wrapping and it was an epic failure!  I have several stones that need to be pieces of jewelry.  I can't afford electroplating/forming, and afraid of the torch needed to use silver bezel wire.   I do stained glass -- and I'm wondering why I can't foil wrap the stones, use a lead-free solder, and attach a ring to the top?  Has anyone tried this?  And how'd it work?
Thanks.
~~cheryl

Hummingbirdstones

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Re: Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2016, 04:40:20 PM »
As long as the stone isn't a heat sensitive one, I see no reason why this wouldn't work.  People have been making lampshades out of geode slices for a long time.  Make sure you don't keep the iron on the stone for too long and let it cool down frequently so it doesn't crack on you.

Debbie K

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Re: Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2016, 06:01:18 PM »
Cheryl:

You can, but if you are going to try to sell them you won't be able to get too much for them.

If you have mastered soldering canes for leaded glass, I have no doubt that you could learn to solder silver. Or, alternatively, you could buy settings from a jeweler's supply such as Rio Grande or Indian Jewelry Supply and calibrate your stones to set in pre-made settings. If you are thinking about selling them, or even have others honor them enough to wear them, it makes a huge difference. Say you have a jade cabochon and you copper-wrap and solder it like you were asking, or one that's set in sterling. Which would you rather have or wear? The monetary difference is huge, also. Expect to make a few bucks for the first, and feel no shame for asking $50.00 for the second, even if the setting only cost you $10.00.

It amazes me that lapidarists work so hard on cabochons and don't go the extra mile to put them in the settings that they deserve. I don't think that they realize that lapidary work isn't something that everyone can do, and like most things in life, some folks just have much more talent and ability than others.

I come at this as a artist/jeweler who learned how to work on stones much later in life. I'm one of the people who bought the stones that the rock hounds cast aside as "not good enough".

Sorry if I sound like I'm ragging on you, but it kinda bothers me that as a group, you guys don't respect your work and ability enough. I'm a gemstone carver, and I don't make many cabochons because, frankly, I suck at it. I respect the craftsmen and artisans that participate on this forum, and am constantly impressed by their ability for symmetry, balance and the oh so important and difficult perfect polish. I'm really good at what I do, but know that this is something I don't have the knack for and admire the work of those who can do it.

So, I'm offering some advice. Respect yourself and your work enough to go a little further. Maybe find a jeweler to go in partnership with if you have no interest in doing the metalwork or buy the pre-made settings. I'm probably making enemies for saying all this, but I'm really not trying to be mean or ugly but to lift you guys up because I think so much of what all of you do.

Debbie K
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55fossil

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Re: Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2016, 07:10:07 AM »
      Cheryl;    Do what makes you happy. If your time and budget allows you to pursue bigger things, go for it. I think Cheryl is right in that many people can do bigger things that the rocks deserve. Maybe make some small lamp shapes as I plan on doing with my leftover slabs.... someday..  good luck

Debbie;    No enemies in my camp. Your talent is crazy good. I really wish I had the change in my pocket to purchase your Citrine carving. Your female torso carvings are unreal. Not only are the carvings great but you have a fantastic insight to come up with such great artistic pieces.

LotsaRocks

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Re: Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2016, 09:00:51 AM »
Debbie:  Thank you!  It's the input I was looking for.  I'll do some more research on working with the silver. 

~~cheryl

dickb

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Re: Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2016, 11:57:27 AM »
Go to school on You Tube. Lots of good information.

Welcome.

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Debbie K

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Re: Can I copper-foil wrap polished stones?
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2016, 09:20:18 AM »
Cheryl:

I recently bought a little torch, called an Orca torch http://www.ebay.com/itm/ORCA-JSP-Torch-With-Hose-3-heads-for-disposable-propane-tank-so155-/172067942626?hash=item28100c70e2:g:Js4AAOSwCypWnV5R, that works really well and isn't that expensive. It has an atmospheric oxygen assist, which means that the configuration of the torch tip pulls air in and mixes it with the propane and makes for a hotter flame. I only had a Bernzomatic torch up til then, which has a big flame and is difficult to control.

I also have found that the little bitty cheap refillable torches work really well to solder tiny things like jump rings. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bernzomatic-ST200-Butane-Micro-Torch-328629/202185057  Stay away from this type http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bernzomatic-ST2200T-Butane-Micro-Torch-330194/100564678 as they are dangerous, I've heard of more than one exploding.

I couldn't afford the expensive Smith little torches and the idea of having oxygen tanks in my house made me uncomfortable. https://www.riogrande.com/Product/smith-little-torch-propane-and-oxygen-set-for-disposable-tanks/500090 The propane tanks are much more stable than the oxygen.

This is the low tech thing that I used for years. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bernzomatic-UL100-Basic-Propane-Torch-Kit-334458/203665003 I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I got this, http://www.homedepot.com/p/Bernzomatic-WH0159-Universal-Torch-Extension-Hose-334246/202539579. The hose makes a huge difference because when the gas gets low in the tank the flame is unpredictable and the tank is hard to hold in one hand, at least for me.

Another piece of advice about soldering, brass and copper are more difficult than silver to solder, and silver is more difficult than gold. So if you practice soldering copper and get good at it, silver is easy by comparison. You'll have to use silver solder and most folks beginning to solder try to use easy solder to do everything. Try to get good at at least medium to solder big pieces together so you have something else to go to for the little things. Solder gets a little "harder" every time it's heated, a little more difficult to melt, so you can use medium on a piece after you've used it somewhere else on the same piece. The reason why easy solder is something to be avoided is that it has a lower silver content than medium, and medium less than hard. So as a piece ages the easy solder can show up on a piece.

I hope that Carol is still lurking here somewhere, she worked in Argentium silver and thought it was wonderful. I don't work in it mostly because I'm heavily invested in sterling, but my understanding is that it fused easily and does away with the need for solder entirely. It is expensive, though, and like I said, I've got sterling already. It doesn't tarnish.

YouTube is an excellent place to look for free videos on jewelry making of all kinds. Get yourself a torch, a striker, some fire bricks, solder, flux, pickle and metal and give it a try. A third hand, cotter pins, straight pins and binding wire are really helpful, too. Maybe it's just me, but I think that soldering silver is MUCH easier than doing stained glass soldering.

Debbie K