afmetalsmith: (Default)
In general, I'm definitely enjoying making classic LinL chains using Argentium rather than fine silver. For thinner wires- especially 24-ga. and smaller (0.5mm), Argentium is a LOT easier to fuse than fine. The difference between the melting point and the flow point is a huge help here. (It's also kinda fun to see what happens when one overheats an Argentium link- usually instead of the join splitting and the ends beading up, the whole ring just magically SHRINKS. And yes, I am easily amused!)

I also really like the fact that the whole bracelet can be hardened after it's made. Bracelets take an amount of abuse second only to rings, and the sturdier I can make them, the better!

One small downside of using Argentium rather than fine silver, though, is that it does behave differently. For example, some LinL chains' specifications for gauge and mandrel size are less effective with Argentium than with fine silver. Fine silver tends to stretch in the forming process- and Argentium doesn't. This can leave one with links that are slightly too small to make weaving a chain easy, and even if one does so, one ends up with a denser chain than desired. Thus far I and others I work with have had reasonably good results keeping the mandrel size the same and decreasing the wire gauge 2 sizes (example: using 22 ga. rather than 20 ga.), OR increasing the mandrel size when winding the wire for the loops.

It is also advantageous, when fusing links at 20 ga. (0.8mm) or larger, to flip the rings over and make sure the other side is fused as well when using Argentium. I have generally not found it necessary to do this for 22 ga. and smaller.

In short: I am increasingly fond of Argentium for fusing applications. For me, it's been both easier to use AND makes sturdier results than the same techniques in fine silver.

The worst downside- apart from but related to its lower melting point- is that Argentium is not especially compatible with enamels- another love of mine.

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afmetalsmith

September 2011

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