A flat strip of silver…

I had a student today, who wanted to fabricate 2 bangle bracelets from a sheet of 20 ga. sterling she had. The piece of sterling she had, although somewhat cut into in a few spots, was about 6 in. x 12 in.

She had the metal already, and it represented the thickness she wanted the bracelets to be, and she wanted my help.  It looked like she was going to do a lot of hand filing and sawing, and that we were going to need a very deep throated saw frame.

I explained that if she had other scrap silver, or pure silver she could alloy to a cleaner S88 sterling, she could have torch melted and poured a narrow flat ingot, and could have rolled out the same thickness of metal, with perfectly straight sides, with no sawing or filing, in much less time.

To her mind, the flat sheet of 20 ga. metal seemed closer to her goal, and we both agreed it would be a shame to melt down the sterling sheet, so she proceeded to lay out her flat edge, file it flat, and layout her bracelet cuts.  She has a lot of work ahead of her, and will most likely be looking for a deeper throated sawframe than the 6 in. model I have.  She didn’t want to take my advise on pouring her own ingot.

I know that to many, making an ingot and rolling it into what they want with a rolling mill seems daunting, physically demanding, and time consuming, the reality is not nearly that.  I’m pretty certain that if  we had a contest, she sawing and filing that 20 ga. sheet into two  8 1/4 in. strips with smooth edges, and me making mine with a rolling mill, I’d have finished much quicker.

It also seems to me that my milled strips could have been made from a much better sterling, have been roller printed with a texture, or the edges thickened (upset) or any number of things I had wanted to incorporate into my strips.

My teaching philosophy is that one should, ideally, be able to start with a flat design on paper,  design the elements of the proposed 3-D finished piece, and make each element fit the original design.  If you are starting with ready-made elements, you are likely making your design fit what elements (stock) you already have.

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