Friday, March 19, 2010

Sterling Silver Dust

A customer asked me to make a set of beads for her, based on a style I made more than a year ago. I wasn't sure I could remember how they were done, but luckily I did, and here they are:Kronos and Sterling Silver DustKronos and Sterling Silver DustThe base is Kronos and the swirls are sterling silver dust. The beads are encased with Aether clear.

I first tried silver dust because I was looking for some other way to add silver to my beads besides wire, mesh or foil. Silver dust can be bought, but I made my own by taking a rough file to a piece of silver sheet and making a little pile on my marver. I was going to use fine silver, but I didn't have any fine sheet or bezel wire. The only fine silver I have is 28g wire. Too fine to file. I suppose I could have cut it up into tiny chips - another style idea. But the only silver sheet I had on hand was sterling, so that's what I used.

After making a Kronos base bead, I rolled it in the dust like I would with frit or enamel powder. I used a Kronos stringer to twist the line of dust into swirls. Then I reduced and encased with clear.

Here's another set I made for the same order. These are Double Helix odd lot TE-362 and Vetrofond Odd Olive, encased with clear:TE-362 and Odd OliveTE-362 and Odd OliveThe customer wanted them to be 15mm, and the sizes to be uniform. I was very happy I managed to make most of them 15.5mm, with some at about 16mm. Whew! :-D

I keep a brass micrometer - or whatever you call those things, that we use to measure bead sizes - beside my torch, opened up to 15mm or whatever size I'm working on. Since it's brass I can put the hot/warm bead right between the brass openings and get an accurate measurement as I'm making it.
Do you have a way of measuring bead sizes while you're at the torch, or what methods do you use to make your beads come out all the same size?


Narrative jewelry said...

Your beads are gorgeous ! I just discovered you blog today, incredibly interesting. Thanks to share.
Thanks too for the idea of what we call in France, a "pied à coulisse", to measure beads size while we are at the torch.
I have a question about reducing the oxygen when working with Double Helix, would you please be king to help me ?


Gardanne said...

Beautiful work, and thank you for sharing. I put silver on everything, so any new silver technique is welcome.
I will be filing silver this weekend. I have added you to my blog roll.

Karolen said...

Hi Narrative, I'm glad to hear that there is a French phrase for measuring beads at the torch. I will use it to impress people at torch demos and sound like a real artist. "First we marver our pontil then apply pied a coulisse." So fancy!
I'm happy to help with reducing Double Helix. I turn down my oxygen valve so the yellow cone of the flame is about 2 inches long. I wave the beads back and forth about an inch above the tip of the yellow cone, for 5-15 seconds. This is just a guide... some days I find it works better with a shorter or longer cone, or more or less time waving it in the reducing flame. I don't know why. The phase of the moon I guess! Feel free to ask me more questions, my email is beads [at]

Karolen said...

Gardanne, thank you! I hope you have luck with the silver filings. You can see on the beads that the silver turned a little yellow... this may be the Aether clear and how it reacts with silver. Or, it could be the fact that I used sterling. I wonder how it would look with fine silver filings.

Gardanne and Narrative, I'm glad you found my blog! :)

niveditha said...

i just love those blue beads,they are gorgeous!! waiting for more beads :)

Dave Kimmel said...

It looks very sophisticated when a woman wears those beads. Sterling Silver Number Charms look so fabulous as well; they will surely become a head turner with those accessories.