Make a rustic copper wire ring with fused Sterling Silver enhancement. This ring will always end up different depending on how the silver melts onto the copper. And no soldering required! Easy to make and copper wire is cheap to practice with even if you are not a master jewelry maker.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Copper wire (12 ga, 10 ga for larger sizes)
- Sterling silver wire (about 20 ga)
- Torch (MAP or regular jewelry torch)
- hammer, rubber or plastic mallet
- ring mandrel
- buffing machine or sandpaper, radial disks optional
You will also need a safe working area with heat proof surface (charcoal block is good for this), and of course safety glasses. Please note that using a mini butane torch is not recommended (may not get hot enough, or it would take really long). You can get a MAP torch at any hardware store. (You get a tank of gas and the torch that screws into the tank. It’s that easy!)
Making the Copper Wire Base
Use you ring mandrel to size your ring base by wrapping the copper wire around it at the size you want. Wrap it around three times and leave the ends sticking out. (You need to hammer them flat.) Cut the wire.
Anneal the wire (make it soft) by heating it with your torch to dull red and quench in water. Hammer the ends flat on your anvil and sand of buff them so there are no sharp edges.
Put your base back on the ring mandrel and hammer the ends in place around it with a rubber or plastic mallet. Make sure the wire is wrapped tightly around the mandrel and there is no gap between the layers. You may need to hammer it for a while to get it tight. (If you have a gap, the silver may melt through the gap.)
Fuse the Silver to Copper Ring Base
It is a good idea to craft a little “cage” for the torching. You can simply wrap some wire around that will hold your ring base sitting sideways on top of the charcoal block. Or, you may have some other method to hold the base still.
Position the base the front center of the ring up. Get a piece of silver wire ready in your other hand. You will need to feed it to the torch fire on top of the ring. Now, heat it evenly with your torch until the copper glows light orange. Bring the silver wire end on top of the ring so it touches it and start melting it on the copper. This can take some practice, don’t get discouraged if the first attempt melts through (or you may not get the silver where you wanted it). The metal will follow the heat after it is molten. If you over heat the base you will melt the copper.
Admire your results, you may have just created a small piece of art! Now reform the ring again on the mandrel and hammer it so it hardens. Buff it with sandpaper, radial disks or a buffing machine.
If you don’t wear the ring it will tarnish. You can always buff it again or use a solution of natural brightening methods (see my post How to Clean Copper).