This week I attended a soldering masterclass at the London Jewellery School where I completed my diploma (https://www.londonjewelleryschool.co.uk/). Soldering is a pretty essential part of silversmithing and something I dread doing. My diploma was now three years ago and I don’t use soldering very often in my work, so although this class was covered in my diploma some of the details have become a bit fuzzy and it’s not a skill I want to lose so I decided I needed a refresher. The class cost £149 and ran from 10am-5pm with an hour for lunch. It included all materials and use of the school’s tools, tea and coffee and most importantly, biscuits!
I have something of a mind block with soldering, it’s just not something that happens for me and it is a skill that requires practice, which obviously I don’t do, so I started the day feeling a little apprehensive. I needn’t have worried! The other students in the class were all at varying skill levels and the teacher Kimberley was really reassuring. She was very knowledgeable about all the processes and showed us each one step-by-step and was on stand-by if we needed any help throughout the day. She started the day by talking us through all the equipment we would be using and the different types of solder; hard, medium and easy.
The first thing we did was make jump rings and then learn to solder them closed and also how to turn them into a chain. Kimberley showed us how to apply the flux and the best place to position our pallions of solder. She then showed us how to heat the piece to encourage the solder to flow in the direction we needed.
The second method we learnt was sweat soldering to join two flat pieces of metal together. We began by covering the smaller piece in pallions and heating it until it flowed so one side of the metal was entirely covered in solder. After pickling it to ensure the surface was clean we then positioned it on top of the larger piece and heated it again until the solder flowed, joining the two pieces together.
After that Kimberley showed us how to attached an earring post using the third hand (reverse tweezers on a movable stand) to keep the post in place. Following that we attached some of our jump rings to the top of a flat piece of metal, again using the third hand, and also to the side.
Lastly we made a 3D shape. We started off by creating a ring using a strip of metal and then soldering the join together. The ring was then soldered to a flat piece of metal to create the base, which we then drilled a hole in to prevent the heat building up inside when we added the final piece of metal and causing an explosion! Finally we soldered another flat piece of metal to the other side. The final step is to cut off the excess metal and file it down to create a smooth 3D shape. As you can see I ran out of time to finish mine in the class, but I’m pretty confident with those skills so I can always finish it at home!
Soldering still isn’t really my favourite thing to do, but I definitely feel more confident about the process now that I’ve had a refresher, especially with such a great teacher. I always love returning to the London Jewellery School. It’s such a welcoming place and makes me feel inspired to keep going with my jewellery. Also, there’s always biscuits!