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How to Solder Glass for Jewelry Making

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Once you have all the tools necessary for glass soldering, obviously the next step is to learn how to use them. If you are already familiar with metal soldering, many of the concepts are the same. However, if you are new to soldering, it's not hard to learn. Like anything, it just takes some practice and a little patience.

1. To begin with, you need to find a well-ventilated work area.

2. Then set up your tools. You'll need to plug in your soldering iron and soak your solder stand sponge with water.

3. It's also a good idea to have a small jar or bowl of water near by so you can quench any hot glass or metal. Copper tongs work well for picking up hot items and quenching them in the water. This may not be standard for stained-glass soldering, but for jewelry making, remember that you'll probably be soldering a number of small items. So, it's a handy thing to have on your workbench.

4. Take your copper foil, peal off the back, and wrap it around the piece of glass you wish to solder. The foil is very easy to manipulate, so just trim off any excess with scissors.

5. Burnish the copper around the glass. This simply means to take something, such as a pencil, and rub it against the copper foil so that it is as smooth and even as possible.

6. Set your piece of glass to be soldering in front on you, making sure it is on either a firebrick or metal table top.

7. Use a small paint brush and brush your flux on all of the copper.

8. Now, take your roll of solder (remember it should be non-lead for jewelry), and unroll a little of the solder.

9. In one hand, hold the end of the solder over the foil you just added to the glass piece, and in the other hand, hold your soldering iron.

10. Now comes the tricky part. You want to simultaneously hold the tip of the iron against the tip of the solder and move around the copper on your glass piece. Depending on the thickness and size of your glass, you may have to do one side and then the other side of the glass. Quench and re-add flux as necessary each time you add solder.

11. To add a jump ring or bale to your piece (remember you can solder metal to metal so you can use copper wire or silver too), just rest it up against the area you'd like it to adhere to on your copper foil, and drip some solder onto the area.

It's a little awkward to be using two hands at the same time, so for me, the hardest part of soldering like this is the blobs of solder that sometimes form. Also, it isn't as even as I'd like it to be in some areas, but with practice, I'm sure I'll get better. You can use this technique also to soldering glass slides together and make those cool pendant collages you've probably seen around.

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