Making Magic with Silver and Steel

Course Description

About this course

Steel is a fabulous metal for jewelry—lightweight, malleable, and strong. Steel also plays well with other non-ferrous metals, particularly silver, offering opportunities to create dramatic mixed metals jewelry that shows off the glow of silver against the jet black of patinated steel. The patinas that darken steel leave silver bright, enhancing the drama of combining the two metals.

This techniques-focused workshop will cover a wide range of methods for combining silver and steel, including learning to fuse fine silver, sterling silver, Argentium, and other silver alloys to steel, creating a beautiful starry pattern, bonding silver foil to steel, adding reticulated silver to steel jewelry, learning to water cast Argentium into various forms and add them to your mixed metals steel jewelry, as well as mixed metal patination.

The workshop will be packed full of information, hands-on skill building, and fun. In addition, a big focus of the workshop will be placed on the design aspect of silver and steel jewelry, learning to use silver elements as a guide for design. During the workshop, you’ll have time to create a mixed metals steel and reticulated silver cuff and at least one other piece of your own design.

There will be a Zoom Open Studio Session at 6:00PM Eastern Time on each workshop day for extra discussion, troubleshooting, and advice.

For more information about virtual courses, visit our Virtual Course FAQ page. 

Please read the Materials & Tools tab!

Meet the Instructor

Bette Barnett

Bette Barnett has devoted her work since 2013 to exploring and experimenting with steel and gold. Bette began her jewelry career in 2010 and subsequently studied with the late Chris Nelson through his advanced workshops in fusing gold to steel. Since then Bette has perfected additional techniques and processes for steel, including Keum Boo on steel, fusing gold to iron wire, creating a variety of alloys for fusing to steel such as shibuichi and shakudo, etching steel and fusing gold to non-traditional steel forms, such as screens and wires.  In recognition of her work to further steel and fused gold, the Santa Fe Symposium has selected Bette to create a research paper on steel jewelry and present it during the 2020 Symposium Conference. She has also published articles on steel and gold jewelry in Lapidary Journal: Jewelry Artist.

Bette honed her instructor skills during her former career as a corporate communication consultant by providing extensive training services for some of the largest companies in the world. She continually uses feedback from student surveys and hosting studios to refine her workshop offerings.

Bette teaches private lessons (both virtually and live) in her San Diego studio and offers group lessons throughout the U.S.

Materials & Tools 

$75 supply kit will be sent by the instructor to the shipping address listed on your Metalwerx account by July 8th. If you register after this date, a kit can still be mailed to you, but may not arrive after the workshop. Please inform us if you reside outside of the US, as your shipping cost may differ and may need to be expedited.

Unless you already own most of the items on the list, the kit is highly recommended, as you cannot order the prepped items reflected below through other vendors. Kit includes the following items:

  • 3 x Steel sheets 4” x 6” - 20g
  • 1 x Reticulation silver sheet 2” x 2” - 20g
  • 1 x 4”x4” sheet of fine silver foil
  • Argentium casting grains 0.25oz
  • ¾”-1” wooden dowel for use in water casting
  • Black annealed steel wire - 1’ 10g, 2’ 16g
  • Samples of Sta-Silv brazing flux, Sparex No. 1, and Clear Wax
  • Small jars for silver pallions
  • Brass scratch brush
  • 3M mesh scrub pad
  • Cheese cloth

The following supplies will be used for course demonstrations and objectives. A suggested item and/or vendor has been provided below for reference. Click the vendor name (in red) to be redirected to a page where you can find the item. The quantities needed for each item are listed first. If ordering, please be aware that some items may come in larger quantities than needed for this class. We recommend not opening an item's packaging until the day of the workshop. Student participation during or in-between class sessions is strongly encouraged but not required - observers are welcome.

Metal/raw materials (note that you will want the thinnest gauge silver sheet available):

  • 1"x1" min. x fine, sterling, or Argentium sheet (Rio Grande)

Torch setup (note that an oxy/propane setup works best, but an acetylene/air torch will also work. Smaller single gas torches such as butane, MAPP, and propane will not produce sufficient heat):

  • 1 x fireproof area - steel sheet, tiles, etc. (Amazon or Home Depot)
  • 1 x Solderite™ pad / pan with pumice (Rio Grande or Rio Grande)
  • 1 x compressed charcoal block - hard (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x torch - Smith mini, Silversmith (Rio Grande or Rio Grande)
  • 1 x largest torch tip possible - #1 or #2 for Silversmith (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x striker or lighter - Silversmith system has one (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x soldering tweezers (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x soldering pick (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x 3rd arm (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x 6” silver solder - easy (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x crock pot - for non-ferrous metal (Rio Grande or Amazon)
  • 1 x crock pot - for ferrous metal (Amazon)
  • 1 x crucible with pinch tongs (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x borax - for seasoning crucible (Amazon or grocery)
  • 2 x firebricks - optional if using air/acetylene (Rio Grande)
  • 1 x tempered glass container or sink - for quenching and rinsing
  • 1 x small brush - for flux
  • 1 x fan and open window or ventilation system 

Hand tools:

Basic forming tools:

Patinas (note you only need one of the below options and that the Sculpt Nouveau website lists distributors - you should order from the distributor closest to you to save on shipping):

The following items are optional but helpful:

  • 1 x rotary hand piece - flex shaft, micro-motor, etc.
  • your preferred burs and wheels - 3M radial are good (Rio Grande)
  • rolling mill - for thinning silver sheet

Other/miscellaneous items:

  • denatured or isopropyl alcohol
  • 3qt. or bigger tempered glass or metal container (Amazon)
  • shop rags
  • 2 x tongs - plastic, wood, or stainless steel - for each pickle
  • household vinegar, Whink, or Evaporust
  • particulate dust mask
  • eye protection
  • rubber gloves - to protect from chemicals

Tuition

$350.00

Materials Cost

$75.00

Instructor

Bette Barnett

Dates

July 20 -23, 2021

Time

1:00 PM -3:00 PM

Length

4 days

Level 
Basic and above
Location 
Virtual - Eastern Time Zone
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