Simon Chilvers’ Jewellery Blog
My life as a jeweller has just become more exciting. For years now I have yearned for a Rolling Mill. But my other creative endeavours – painting, drawing, SiPadding etc, also demand concentrated effort so I have to make the most of my limited time.
As my jewellery output is not regular I couldn’t justify the expense of a Rolling Mill and had almost resigned myself to never owning one.
But not really wishing to give up the hunt I placed my faith in the Online Fairy even though I had no tooth to put under my pillow. And she came good. I found not a full size mill nor even one by the top maker but a small one made in India. And even with postage, the cost to me was far less. So I gleefully raided my stock-pile of rupees and now my dream has been realised.
It’s now possible for me to melt silver and gold, (as well as other metals,) to cast them into an ingot and with the mill roll it into wire or sheet of various gauges. So I don’t need to send my scrap off-cuts to the refinery, I’m much more independent.
However this step forward is even more exciting because of my main reason for wanting the mill. I can make my version of Mokume Gane !!!
“Oh! Fantastic!” I hear some of you cry. But it really is, because, as those of you who know about it can tell you, it’s a Japanese way of combining various metals and achieving a sort of ‘woodgrain’ effect.
It needs the jeweller to combine with great heat, (really authentically to ‘fuse,’) alternate layers of two or three or sometimes more metals. In my case, without the professional equipment, I have to settle for second-best and use solder. And that limits the results I can achieve but hey, how much better than no results at all?
You end up with what is called a billet made up of layers of different metals which, if you have a rolling mill, you can flatten to about half its thickness.
You saw that in half and then solder the two halves together, one on top of the other. And roll it through your trusty rolling mill to half thickness again.
You guessed it! You repeat this process two or three more times, or more, dependant on how good your soldering has been.
You now can saw, file, bend or make depressions in the resultant material and by cleverly filing the surface, reveal the different layers as a wonderful, magically-grained pattern.
And then you turn the metal into rings or brooches or earrings or whatever strikes your fancy. Sure, at great expense you can buy the stuff made by others but you’ve made this yourself – all of it – and (in my case) all through the help of the Internet Fairy.
Of course it’s more complicated than that but I wanted to give you an idea of what it can be like to have your horizons opened by a new piece of equipment. Or a new process. Or a new idea.
And that’s why I am obsessed in something most of the time.