Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just one of those days

Being a novice silversmith is both exciting and very frustrating. I had a lovely piece going yesterday - it had good, artistic form, nice twists and the focal wire nestled perfectly in the creases I'd formed in it. But being a novice I did something very silly. I had two small joins to solder and, with one accomplished successfully, I began to tackle the other. I was using the same grade of solder for both, so I knew I had to be careful not to melt the other join... and set to it. Patiently, patiently, carefully, carefully ... I also succeeded in getting the solder to flow. Yippeeee!

Post-pickle I checked the join and discovered that somehow I had soldered the same bit twice. What to do? I could have bent the piece a little and made it all hang together nicely, but no, the Taurean in me had the red rag in her face and was going to do this!

So I set about soldering the right join. Big mistake. I couldn't get the flame right, I didn't have easy solder to work with and, you guessed it, the first join melted while I firescaled the other side. By this time steam was coming out of my ears and I threw that innocent piece of once beautiful work across the room, before pulling it apart, cutting off the firescaled bits and salvaging what useable silver I could to work on again.

On packing and cleaning up after all that, I came in and Google-searched for why my soldering isn't working very well (I've been having some balling up issues too). From my reading I gained a powerful insight that I've been told before but chosen to forget. That the beginner will have more ooops moments (I hesitate to call them failures, because each one is a learning experience) at first, before it all starts to work perfectly. It was a good reminder that patience is a virtue in this game.

Lessons learnt:

  • Check twice, solder once
  • Practice on scrap first so I can use hard solder with success and downgrade hardnesses as I go
  • Stay calm - if the frustration is rising, leave it until the next day or work on something else that I'm getting right
  • Keep practising, practising, practising
  • Appreciate that I'm a novice and enjoy the learning process
Time to get back out there and back into it.

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