Yesterday was day 16 of the challenge (wow, over two weeks!) and I just couldn’t decide on what to do. I made lots of drawings and fiddled about with bits of silver, but still nothing seemed right. I know that writers are told to “write about what you know”, so I decided to put that into practice with my jewellery and “make what I like”. I’ve already got a cat design idea in the pipeline, so I went with my other favourite animal – the Bat!
Originally, I was going to make a necklace – but the piece of scrap silver I wanted to use was so small, I decided to make a pin brooch/badge instead.
I drew out the basic bat shape on the silver and cut it out with the hand saw. It measured about 2.6cm (1″) wide by 0.8cm (3/8″) high. I also cut out an oval for the body and a head shape. After I drilled two eyes in the head, I layered the two pieces on the main shape and soldered them with hard solder.
To make the wings 3D, I decided to use thin silver wire. I cut them all to shape and then had to decide how to solder them on. It seemed that sweat soldering (where solder is melted onto one surface before both surfaces are heated and put together, where the solder will melt again, soldering the two surfaces together) would be the easiest method, but it didn’t turn out to be!
I fluxed and soldered the main piece so that when I added the wires, I could then re-heat everything and the wires would be soldered without melting. I even used my wire mesh on my soldering tripod, so that I could heat the piece from underneath. (Heating from the top means that the wires would get hot before the thicker underneath and would be more likely to melt before the solder would.) In theory this would work perfectly – in practice, it didn’t quite go to plan.
The solder flowed to one wing more than the other (probably due to me not heating the piece evenly) and swamped the layers and fine detail. After quenching in cold water; I had to file away as much of the excess solder as I could, just to bring back some detail in the wings.
Also, one of the wires didn’t solder on right and I had to heat again -first to melt the solder and move the wire, and then to resolder the wire in place. Fiddly, when the item is so tiny!
The next headache to come was when I added the pin at the back. I thought I’d got some already made in my findings box, but non – so I had to find a piece of round silver wire the right size. Well, it seems that I had got a little tired by this time (about midnight, I think it was) and after I cut the piece of wire, I actually picked up a different piece and soldered the wrong wire to the back! I didn’t notice my mistake till after I had filed the end to a point and was putting the notch in the end for the pin back to catch on. Aggghhhhh! So I took a deep breath and cut off the pin and filed the back flat again. I picked up the right piece of silver (I suppose it serves me right for working at a messy bench!) and went through all the processes I just described, to get it to be a proper pin.
After pickling and giving it a preliminary file/polish – it was time for a trip in the tumbler. This was when I decided to leave off making for the day (night!) and tumble it with my next day’s piece when I made it the next day (which would save money as well as not waking anyone up!).
I like my little bat, even though he’s not as perfect as I wanted him to be. I was going to call him Stan (don’t ask me why!) but I’ve called him Pete because it was my friend Pete’s birthday when I made this. So, say hello to my bat “Pete”: