After reading about a metalworking process called Reticulation in John Sartin's Complete Guide To Making Metal Jewelry, and reading the almost sexual experience of Kaelin Cordis in Reticulating Metals or Riding the Ragged Edge of Disaster… I just had to try this technique.
Fortunately, the required metal was on hand, and even the granulate for supporting the sheet during heating was graciously arranged for me in class. As well as a warning that reticulation is a wildly unpredictable technique and I could end up with either a fabulous piece, or a blob of molten metal.
The 835/165 silver was a bit thicker than I needed, so the process started with me learning how to operate a rolling mill. After rolling to 0.8mm thickness, the metal is warped but I decide to not straighten it as it will add to the rough appearance of the reticulated silver. The process starts with a boring sequence of heating, quenching and pickling repeated 4 or 5 times. This forms a layer of fine silver on top of the inner layer of 835/165 silver.
This is me turning up the heat on the unsuspecting silver. The object is to melt the core material of the sheet, without melting or burning the surface layer of fine silver.
The 'without burning' part was a bit harder than I first thought. Must be my (lack of) skills :D
I Hand-form a bezel of Sterling silver that will be the outer rim of the pendant-to-be.
The reticulated sheet is then made to snugly fit the bezel.
More heat. Now the sheet is soldered to the bezel. Time to play with my new toy!
No time to take photographs of the Little Tolch (Chinese version of the Smith Little Torch) in action as I am nervous as hell that the whole thing will turn into a blob on me. In preparation for the tarnishing the pendant is heated, quenched an pickled a couple of times more. I Use the softer flame of he butane torch for this. A lot better for the nerves and the oxygen bill!
At this time, the location for the eyelet for the chain is determined for me by my lovely wive, who has a far better eye for these kind of details than I do.
The pendant and one of the twisted wire rings is tarnished with Liver of Sulphur and then polished in appropriate places with a miracle-cloth.
As a final touch, the peaks on the pendant are made to shine using an Agate Burnishing tool.
This pendant is now featured in our portfolio.