A few weeks ago I posted about some earrings I was starting that were to have granulation. Well today I finally had a chance to finish them! (Check back on the earlier post to bring yourself up to date:
After a bit of trial & error. I decided on my layout for the Argentium silver granules. I fluxed them and allowed them to completely dry.
Ronda Coryell has recommended that one use half flux/half water to flux the piece- if you use 'straight' flux, it bubbles and foams too much and will displace the granules.
You can see at this point that the silver has started to liquefy on the surface- it's shiny and the flux residue (small droplets) is starting to 'dance' around- and this is at the point of fusion. Argentium silver has the advantage of having a larger window of time/opportunity for items to fuse before meltdown occurs. It almost turns to gel. You also have to wait until it's no longer red-hot before quenching, or the silver will be overly shocked and will crack.
Here are the pieces after fusing. I went over them with my pink (pumice) 3M disc and they are ready for the next step.
I decided to use solder to attach the balls to the 3 corners- I was afraid that there wouldn't be enough surface area of fused material to hold them on for the long haul. A little messier, but it's a tough thing to attach such a small granule to essentially a point in the silver. Now they are ready for the bezels to be soldered on- you can see the tiny snippet of solder inside each bezel. When heated, they will melt and flow underneath the ring of bezel wire. I am careful to position them at the far end of the bezel from the granules, for I don't want any solder to enter the granulated area.
Here they are after soldering and pickling. I cut out a hole for the back of the opals, but since the rubies are being set upside down, they can be set as-is in the bezel. Next I go over them with the pink pumice wheel (which is a pre-polishing disc).
Here they are - I drilled holes for the earwires, and oxidized them in Griffith's Silver Black, then rubbed them with a polishing cloth to bring out the shine in the granules and create contrast. I also created the earwires, which will be attached, and bent over to form the portion that goes through the ear.
And here's the finished product! To me, a piece isn't done until it's photographed and listed in my Etsy shop. Then the work is done and I can move on to my next project....