There was a question today on the Metal Clay Yahoo group on how to solder earring posts on to metal clay earrings.
Here is a variation on my replies, including links to lots of resources and reviews.
Soldering is a great skill for metal clay artists to learn, and I included it in my post Minimal Metalsmithing: which techniques you should add to your metal clay jewelry making skills and why.
The best way to learn soldering is in a class with an actual teacher. (Sorry! I know people get tired of hearing that!) Failing that, I’ll list some resources that at the very least will familiarize you with the vocabulary and materials of soldering.
First is my free ebook, The Jewelry Maker, that you can find it here: CreativeTextureTools.com. There’s a chapter on soldering and it explains how it works, what you need and safety issues.
Soldering is a highly visual activity though, so if an in-person lesson isn’t possible, a DVD is your next best choice. Rio Grande has a good video, I reviewed it here.
Want some ventilation to go with that? Check out Tamra Gentry’s guest post on her ventilation system.
And here’s a round up post with a number of sources for online videos on various metalsmithing techniques.
Specifically about soldering earring posts — I find the easiest kind of earring posts to solder are the kind with the little round pad at the base. Just place a chip of solder under the pad and solder away!
While most of the resources listed here describe soldering conventional metals, not metal clay, the basics are the same. The differences are: metal clay is more porous than conventional metals and will soak up more solder, so you need to use more than you would with milled metal. And burnish the metal clay piece first, either the whole thing, or the specific area that you plan to solder.
Update: July 7, 2011, via Jay Whaley on twitter, here’s a video on soldering tiny things. http://metalsmith.ning.com/video/how-to-solder-tiny-ring