Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fusion Achieved But At What Cost? AT WHAT COST??!!

Yesterday I took my copper and my torch and my piece of slate and almost killed myself trying to fuse a copper jump ring. I was told that any pure metal can fuse (this rules out sterling silver, brass and any of the cheap craft wires) and all I needed was a kitchen torch. Also some flux to coat the jump ring with to avoid firescale. Since I was only experimenting, I forsook flux.

Before I show you the fruits of my labor, let me first give a few hints on fusing copper. Firstly, copper's melting point is about 300 degrees higher than silver's. Which is probably why all the videos and slideshows I watched used fine silver even though they said copper would work just fine. Secondly, it helps to do this in very low light so that the flame and the color of the metal can be plainly seen. Plus, it looks really cool in a melty metal kind of way. Thirdly, don't listen to those people on the video, even after quenching the metal is still hot. Not hot like molten metal hot but hot so that if you hold it long enough between your thumb and your index finger, you'll definitely feel it.

Do you see the ring in the lower left-hand corner? The one that is the same size as the two others beside it? That one is fused. It may not look like it because there is still a gap on the outer part of the ring. This is how fusion is supposed to work. You heat the piece until the inside melts and runs together causing the metal to fuse while the outside holds it shape by not melting. All the examples I saw did not have this here outside gap, but after all the unsuccessful tries, I was damned happy to have a fused jump ring.

It wasn't easy. It took a long, long time. Much longer than any video showed. Of course you can edit video AND they were using fine silver, which has a lower melting point. I should have realized what the problem was early on when I tried to ball the end of a copper wire and it refused. It just plain refused. But since balling the end of a copper wire wasn't my main goal, I simply moved on.

Do you see all the rings in the picture? Those are not all the rings I tried to fuse. Those are only the ones that were on the slate when fusion was achieved and I took the picture. I started trying to fuse at about one in the afternoon or so. I finally fused a jump ring at ten o'clock at night. You know why I finally fused a jump ring? Because I decided I wasn't going to listen to those videos warning me I'd get a melted mess if I didn't do this methodically. In fact, my aim at 10 pm was to make a melted mess of copper. I was going to blast that piece of copper until it fucking melted or the sun became a red giant and consumed the Earth. Which ever came first.

That copper glowed like nobody's business. A dark red, a bright red, an almost orange-y red. It glowed and glowed. And then, where the gap was and where I was concentrating the hottest part of the flame, it sort of turned blue-ish, grayish and very strangish. I'd say I was blasting that piece of copper for a good 6 or 7 minutes. I had to stop because the heat rising from the slate was beginning to toast my hand. And the copper never turned into a melted mess. In fact, I could still see the damned gap!

But lo and behold! Once quenched, it became clear that the copper did fuse. Holy cow! I did it! This is grea. . . BLAM!!

What the holy fu. . .?
My $11 micro torch exploded not ten seconds after I turned it off and put it down. The plastic part of the nozzle melted, releasing a great bit of butane and misshaping the entire head of the torch. Wait, what? The plastic part of the nozzle? On a fucking torch? Man, it was a good thing I wasn't still heating the copper when that thing went off.

So, in conclusion. I believe my difficulties were caused by my torch not getting hot enough. And the cost of fusion? Eleven dollars. But luckily, not my hand.

Queen of Sheeeba's Etsy
PinkSlinkie's Artfire Studio

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