Sunday, July 22, 2012

DVD Review: How to Solder Jewelry

Having watched many teachers demonstrate soldering, I can confidently recommend this instructional DVD set, which is geared especially to the beginner. Lexi Erickson is a professional metalsmith with experience, a calm manner, and a methodical teaching style that is easy to understand and follow. She demystifies the process and takes the fear out of using a torch to solder jump rings, rings, bezels, and more.Safety issues, tools required, how to set up a Smith torch (her favorite), fitting joins together, cleaning metal and solder, applying paste flux, correct placement of solder, and finally heating with the torch are all covered, step by step. Quenching hot metal and pickling in a crock-pot (she uses pH Down as a pickle; personally I prefer citric acid) and then shaping the metal, etc. are also included. All of this is covered in the first DVD in the set.Lexi also shows you closeup shots of her few mistakes (on one ring, she didn't use enough solder). I appreciate that so much!The second DVD begins with a lengthy segment on stick/sweat soldering, which is really terrific and worth the price of the entire DVD. Using a thick 16ga stick of solder, Lexi heats the fluxed metal and then gently touches the solder to the metal with the solder in three places: wa-la, just enough solder has been placed on the metal.Next, she places the second metal piece and holding it down gently with a pick she heats the two pieces to "sweat solder" them together. After searching all over the web for information on sweat soldering jewelry, it was such a relief to find excellent instruction on this technique right here. Yes, there is an abundance of free information on jewelry making and soldering on the web, but sometimes it's worth paying a small fee to obtain a professionally produced DVD with all the information presented correctly.Lexi shares numerous tips on all aspects of soldering as she teaches each segment. She also demonstrates many different techniques, including a few easy-peasy ones like soldering a pre-made silver earring post onto a metal backing, and then shows how to solder fine-silver bezels. She does not go into fitting the stone into the bezel (that is the subject for another class!) but she does go into great detail discussing and demonstrating the process of choosing the right bezel wire and measuring, cutting, fitting, and soldering it together.Like all of Interweave Press's instructional DVDs, How to Solder Jewelry is professionally produced in a well-lit studio with numerous camera angles and lots of closeup shots. I recommend this DVD set to anyone who is new to soldering, or can't afford to take a live workshop (which would be ideal), or needs a review after taking a class.

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