I have received many questions regarding soldering, and the ins and out of it. I thought it would be fun, and hopefully helpful if I put together a little tutorial.
A few important notes:
~I am not an expert in this field. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I solder for fun, and this is the method that seems to work best for me.
~Soldering irons are HOT! Please exercise caution.
~Make sure the solder you are using is lead free, and work in a well lit, well ventilated area.
Solder (lead free)
Prepare glass. For this tutorial, I am using slides that I will cut to desired size.
Take your glass and determine where you want to cut it. If you want, you can draw a line on it using a marker to guide you. Use a hard, straight edge to guide your cut. I currently use my fabric rotary cutting supplies, because I am very familiar with them, and they make measuring easy. I have also used a wooden ruler and the green roof pieces to Lincoln Logs. Whatever works.
Run the glass cutter down your line firmly and evenly once. This does not actually cut the glass, it simply scores it for you.
Place your thumbs on either side of the scored line, and snap.
Now you have two equal pieces. This is a good time to polish up the glass, getting rid of fingerprints.
Sandwich whatever you want between the glass. Photos, fabric, papers, stamps, you name it...
Wrap glass with copper tape. Work slowly, don't press hard until you feel it is evenly placed. Overlap the ends a little.
Fold tape around edges, carefully mitering corners.
Burnish the edges. This is actually a very important step. If it's not smooth now, it's never going to be smooth. If the tape isn't pressed down firmly, flux may seep underneath, and ruin your images inside.I use the round edge from my glass cutter. If you don't have that, any smooth hard object should work. Just make sure the tape is firmly pressed down.
Apply flux. Thinly and evenly. Flux is the "glue" you need to make the solder stick. You need your tape completely covered. But if you apply too thickly, you run the risk of it seeping under tape and ruining your image.
Solder!! Make sure your iron is nice and hot, and melts the solder on contact. Use a clothes pin to hold your pendant. It gets really, really hot. There are a few different ways you can do the next step. For a thin covering, simply touch your tip to the solder, and then touch it to your tape. Run it back and forth, kind of like you are coloring. Continue to pick up solder and dab it on.
If you want a thicker bead, hold the solder right on the pendant, and touch your tip to it. The solder will run on to the pendant in a thick bead. When you have enough on, set the solder down, and continue to smooth and spread the solder on the pendant until all areas are covered.
Let me warn you, this can be incredibly frustrating, but you can do it! What works best for me is the following:
Apply a drop of solder where you want your ring to go. Put flux on the bump. Put your jump ring in the pliers, and apply flux to the ring as well. Carefully press the ring right up to the spot you want to attach it to, and briefly touch your soldering iron to the bump. It should melt around the base of the ring.
Some helpful hints:
Relax...Don't Forget to Breathe. Un-tense your shoulders. Relax...
I have found that glossy papers don't work well for me. The heat from the iron makes it funky. I print onto matte paper.
I wouldn't worry about making everything "perfect". You are creating a unique, hand crafted item. Bumps and irregularities are your friend. Really.
If you feel like it really is lumpier than it should be, sometimes it may help to apply a bit more flux over the solder, and run over it with your iron.
Let your imagination guide you. There are so many things you can solder, and so many things to make. Play with different forms of glass, china, game pieces, anything else you can dream up...
If you have questions, please ask!! I will answer them the best I know how.
If you want to give this a try, but don't have the supplies, I have made up a few kits that contain everything you need. They can be found in my etsy shop.