Tag Archives: bat

“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 26: A Girlfriend for Pete

Remember Pete, my little bat from Day 16?  Well, today he got a girlfriend.

I’m down to really tiny pieces of silver sheet and odd pieces of wire in my main scrap box – so I wasn’t going to be making something big today.  I had made myself a replacement engagement ring a little while ago (the original had worn too thin and was uncomfortable to wear) out of two circles of wire soldered together, with the front part opened up enough so that I could set a rainbow moonstone with a heart shape either side.  I wanted to try this technique out again and I thought that a little bat would look great in the frame of silver wire.

The silver wire I would be using is the Reflections silver wire, which would make life easier with less pickling because of resisting fire-scale.

As you can see, the bat had to be cut in sections from lots of little pieces of scrap silver sheet.  It was quite difficult to use a hand saw with such small pieces but, apart from one broken saw blade, everything turned out how I wanted it.  Then, I soldered it all together with hard solder, making sure that all the seams were tight.

To make the ring, I decided to take two lengths of round 0.8mm silver wire and shape the middle of each to be a half-oval.  Putting the two wires together as a mirror-image of each other, both ends (where the wires lay parallel to each other) were soldered to make the ring shank.

When the bat was placed in the oval, even though it looked fine, I decided to shape the wire around the bat rather than leave it the oval shape.  This was easier said than done because the wires had already been soldered together and that left me with only so much wire that would still move.  Oh well, hindsight is always 20:20, yes?

Once the “oval” was roughly the right bat-shape, the little bat was soldered in place with hard solder.  Any previous solder joints that melted would re-harden again without moving due to the fact that all the pieces were still flat.  If this had been shaped or already formed into a ring, this technique would not have worked and a lower temperature solder would have been used to avoid melting the original joins.

The ring was then formed on a metal ring mandrel (looks like a thin cone which is marked out in graded ring sizes) with a raw-hide hammer, so as not to mark or distort the silver.  The ring shank cut to size and the joint soldered with medium solder (after having been taken off the mandrel!).  I took this opportunity to check the back of the ring and solder again any part that had not been done to my satisfaction.

The ring was put back on the mandrel to check that it was still round and to make sure the ring shank was level (heating the ring for soldering can distort the piece so it is always best to re-check your work afterwards).  Looking at the little bat, it occurred to me that she was missing any definition (except for her eyes, which were round indents punched with a sharpened nail and a hammer).  Leaving the ring on the mandrel for support, the lines on her wings where her bones would be and the fur-like texture on the main body were created with a motorised engraver.  I don’t use the engraver much as it buzzes extremely loudly – even a few minutes of using it is enough for me!

Another check and then into the tumbler for about an hour.  It comes out looking really shiny, but after taking photos, I decide that it could do with a final polish by hand to make sure any fine scratches (which show up on the photos but you can’t see by the naked eye) are removed.  I am in two minds about adding black (by either Liver of Sulphur or by Gilder’s wax) into the details; on one hand – the patina may not stay in the engraved lines and just polish off, but on the other hand – it may make it easier to see the details and this little bat is really pretty.  If I decide to add the black, I will do an update post with new photos.

Anyway, here is the little ring (it’s size is about halfway between “O” and “P” on the ring mandrel):

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“One-a-Day” Recycling Challenge – Day 16: Little Bat

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”: