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There pictures are a part of my exploration of granulation and using 0.8mm-1mm grains.  At the moment I am testing out how to solder and fusion-weld on the same silver piece. I am also exploring fusion-welding wire. It seems that I am only able to fusion-weld wire if the wire is next to grains… It is amazing that every test leads me to more questions – It feels like a never ending quest…albeit an exciting one!

I love this ring. Made from 22 karat gold, Jill Hurant‘s ring is stunning. The granulation is delicate and effective. The ring is such a subtly witty piece with its grains (like grit) and pearl, the natural fruit of an oyster and grit.

Glimpse of my work – granulation and decoration

As a part of my degree, I am studying gold and silver smithing. This semester I have focused on decorating metal with particular interest in the technique of granulation.

The look of Jewellery is so important to its success. Jewellery for me, must explore and test my creativity and skills. It must add value to the wearer through its wearability, stylishness, quality and ability to make the wearer feel confident and beautiful.

Labels for the pictures in the previous post

Left: Granulation sample using fine silver sheet, copper plated silver grains gum and heat
Top Right: Ball chain and silver sheet: I am exploring the possibilities of ball chain as well as comparing ball chain against granulation.
Middle Right: Saw piecing fine silver. I would like to fuse different forms of patterning metal together. Ball chain, granulation and saw piecing as well as punching, pressing and stamping.
Bottom Right: Here is the beginning of fusing saw piecing and ball chain.

0.8mm – 1mm silver grains

Labels for the pictures in the previous post

Left: Elisabeth Treskow’s grape brooch, 1941, Cologne

Top Right: Box by J. M. Wilm, Munich (‘Metal: Design and technique’ by Wilhelm Braun-Feldweg)

Middle Right: An Elisabeth Treskow brooch, 1967, Cologne

Bottom Right: Etruscan granulation 400–300 BC. British Museum. (Wikimedia Commons image.)

To see the world in a grain of sand…
William Blake

Nature: The Master Artist

Deserts and oceans alike, tiny grains are to be found everywhere in the natural world. Nature with its pallet of infinite resources, paints and sculpts with such technique and beauty that it’s truly and unquestionable the master artist. We, Nature’s students imitate and explore the possibilities of form, function and decoration. Grit and granules; those tiny balls that give us pearls, beaches and land are the building blocks that excite me as a designer and as a silversmith, I explore the potential of tiny grains of silver or gold fuse-welded onto larger surfaces to create beautiful jewellery to be enjoyed by the wearer and viewer alike.

A little History

Granulation is a metal smithing process of decoration in the form of patterns and this technique has been in the artist’s pallet from ancient Sumer to the present day. Granulation is a specific form of joining tiny balls of metal at their point of contact to a metal piece.

While many cultures have used granulation, it was the Etruscan fine craftsmen with their 0.14mm grains that perfected the bonding process and the resulting jewellery. “The technique was bought to its pinnacle of perfection by the Etruscans craftsmen in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.” E. Misiorowki. Yet by the early 20th century the technique perfected by the Etruscans was “lost” to modern Western jewellery making.

A little Chemistry

Over the last hundred years gold and silver smiths have researched, talked about and played with the techniques used to produce granulation. It is thought that the Etruscans probably used a technique known as “colloidal hard soldering or fusion-welding.” E. Misiorowki

Essentially grains of gold or silver + fish paste or cowhide glue + powdered copper mineral + surface metal + reduced atmosphere created through heat = granulation.

Does this mean the Etruscans understood the chemical process? Professor Elisabeth Treskow, (Cologne) stated that all the Etruscans would have “…needed to achieve this [copper salt on metal process] was to keep the gold grains in copper vessels and expose them to the normal influence of the atmosphere.” Nature at work!

My Process

  • The grains are made by cutting or filing off tiny pieces of silver and placing them on a charcoal block to be heated up till they melt and form many tiny balls, my grains
  • I copperplate the grains by placing them in a copper jewellery pickle (copper, acids) with some iron (binding wire).
  • I paint the gum onto the surface of my fine silver piece.
  • With tweezers I delicately place each grain in a pattern formation and put aside until the glue is dry
  • I turn on my torch and apply heat to the underneath of my piece until …presto, fusion!
  • The point of fusion is so critical; a second too soon will result in no fusion and a second too late …melt down, a mess!

Artfully crafted

Like nature, we play, allowing variations of materials and techniques in the hopes that solutions are found and successful and exquisite works of art are created. True granulation means each tiny sphere meets the surface metal only at point of contact. Every grain must maintain its own integrity so that shadows in the intermediate spaces of each tiny ball in the pattern can be seen. Some say the real challenge lies in the patterns created. Like the supreme colours, textures and forms of nature; what sets apart the finest granulation from others is in the crafting of the grains. Beautiful patterned jewellery is stunning and a joy to wear.

Information

Augusto Castellani – Roman soldering Mr Littledale – 1936 lectures and made beautiful granulation

Mr Frey – anneals grains and surface to create copper oxide + flux and heat

Marc Rosenberg – book ‘Granulation’

Marc Rosenberg and Stanger – realised granulation needed a chemical reaction for successful fusion

Johann Michael Wilm – 1920 made beautiful granulation

Augusto Castellani – Roman soldering

E. Treskow – German Professer of Gold and silver smithing and made beautiful jewellery.

Bibliography

Elizabeth Treskow essay “Granulation”

E. Misiorowki “Reviving An Ancient Technique”

Jochem Wolters “The Ancient Craft of Granulation”

Prof.Dr. Erhard Brepohl “The Theory and Practice of Goldsmithing”

Douglas Harling notes

ANU gold and silversmithing workshop

Categories

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