Annealing is the term for softening metal so that it is malleable. The process involves heating the metal and then cooling it. Cooling the metal can be achieved through air cooling, quenching and sometimes both.
Sterling silver is heated to a dull red(900F). Let it lose its redness and then quench in cool water. (Presto you have soft metal). There are a few steps before you can heat the baby up.
The metal should be coated in a protective substance called a “Barrier Flux”. It is made up of boric acid and 91% isopropyl alcohol.
Many people use denatured alcohol. I discovered it’s toxic and the human body does not metabolize denatured alcohol. This means it doesn’t leave your body very easily once you have absorbed it. Kind of scary. That is why I recommend 91% isopropyl alcohol because it’s less dangerous.
The 91% isopropyl alcohol burns off nearly as well as denatured alcohol. I do not recommend the 70% isopropyl alcohol.
You can mix the boric and isopropyl solution 50/50 for a thicker solution. This will provide a nice thick coating for your metal. This is good for annealing. If you are soldering you can use 25% boric and 75% isopropyl alcohol.
Use a glass jar with a lid. I use an old pickle jar or you could use
I spent the last week up north in Grand Marais, Minnesota teaching two stone cutting classes back to back at the North House Folk School. What a great couple of groups! I have offered this class a few times and it continues to develop and get better and better. The classes both cut jaspers, agates and petrified dinosaur bone. Here are a few photos of the cabochons they made. I can’t wait to do it again!
This is the most important part of your jewelry wax carving. I will say it again. This is the most important part of your carving. Do not miss these steps!
The most important part of the wax carving process is making sure every thing is square. By square I mean all of our angles are at 90 degree angles. Yup, everything! It doesn’t matter if your design only has curves in it or if you are carving a miniature 2 x 4 piece of lumber. Everything on our wax must be square to start. I will also say this is the most boring of all the steps but necessary.