Dissolution, Transformation and Attraction

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Scrap MetalThe technical process of recycling metal is pretty straightforward and very rewarding.

The other day I gathered my silver scrap in a scooped out charcoal block, sprinkled it with borax and placed a cast iron ingot mold near by. With the steady application of a large flame the metal gradually turns cherry red then slowly begins to break down and liquify. Once it completely reaches the liquid state (just over 1640°F) it is poured into a warmed ingot holder, left to cool and then placed it in the pickle solution to remove oxidation.

After creating the ingot I use the rolling mill to transform the block of metal into a suitable gauge of sheet for various upcoming projects. To keep the metal malleable and free of fractures it must be annealed periodically and rolled out only in small increments.

In The Theory & Practice of Goldsmithing Dr. Erhard Brepohl explains how, “[t]he crystal lattice that constitutes a metal is not a frozen and immobile structure even at room temperature. Rather, it is a dynamic system in which metal ions are surrounded by orbiting electrons, which within certain limits are in constant motion. The mutual attraction of the electrons and other atomic particles hold them together.” I hope the finished piece of jewelry comes close to rivaling the beauty of metallurgy. 


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