Friday, February 1, 2013

Forging Sterling Silver Metal Clay Test

by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

This month’s test, requested by PMC Connection Artistic Advisor Lora Hart, explores how well fired PMC Sterling handles forging. Lora wanted to know if she could  forge the bowl area of a spoon she planned to make from a flat piece of fired metal clay.

Design Template
Spoon Plank
I made two spoon planks rolling them out eight cards thick, and lightly texturing the handle areas. I fired them per Mitsubishi's instructions in the kiln.

I hammered the first spoon using a steel dapping block, which was too deep to support the metal correctly. I promptly put a hole in it.

With the second spoon, I wanted to use a wood block but didn’t have one the correct size. So, I made one out of a stump of firewood I found laying outside the house.

Carved wood
First I traced the bowl area’s outline onto the end of the stump. Then I used a 10mm ball bur and my rotary tool to carve out a shallow area.

I hammered the bowl area with a rounded raising hammer on the carved stump.

After I got it somewhat domed, I annealed the metal.

Time to anneal

Using a dapping tool
I carved the hole in the stump deeper, and since my hammer was too big to fit where I needed it, I used a dapping tool and a rawhide mallet to forge the spoon’s end into the stump.
It worked fine so long as I stopped regularly to anneal the metal before pushing it too far.

Front side of hammered spoon
Back of hammered spoon
Success! Fired PMC Sterling can be forged and the spoon is ready for refining and finishing.


Lora Hart said...

Yay! Thanks for the test Janet! I always forget that before steel dapping blocks there were custom made dapping blocks. For eons jewelry makers had to make their own tools and molds. Now I'm on the outlook for a thick piece of wood of my own. ;)

Janet Alexander said...

Thanks Lora! Wood is your best friend!