Prong Challenge - Oh boy!

I have wanted to learn to do prong settings for a while now. & nbsp;So when the Artisan Whimsy Metal Team & nbsp;decided we were going to post a prong setting how-to and a follow up challenge and blog hop, I figured now was as good a time as any.

When the how-to was posted, I saw that the solder media of choice was of the paste variety. & nbsp;Well, of course, I don't have any of that. & nbsp;And I wanted to save my $$ to put toward that disc cutter I've been eyeing. & nbsp;(You know, metal workers will ALWAYS choose tools and convince ourselves that we can "make do" on less than ideal material because it will just be a little more challenging -- not impossible, right?) & nbsp; & nbsp;I have copper solder wire for use when soldering copper pieces. & nbsp;And I have some easy sterling solder wire for use on sterling pieces. & nbsp;And I have loads of stones and fossils I want to set. & nbsp;So I was game to jump right in.

As soon as I considered making prong jewelry, I knew I wanted to try using my twisted rosy tipped ball pins as the prongs. & nbsp;But they needed to be pretty thick. & nbsp;So I tried twisting 16 gauge wire together to form a 14 gauge prong (approximately) and managed to ball the tips just fine. & nbsp;I then trimmed the ball pins down to a short prong length, making sure to cut the prong so that the bottom was flush and straight. & nbsp;I melted the copper solder and then held the prong in place with my locking tweezers while I "sweat soldered" the prong onto the face of the textured plate I cut from copper sheet. & nbsp;Repeat three more times and this is what I got!

I added a hand forged chain of mixed large hammered rings and smaller twisted copper, and hand turned and hammered s-links, too.

Next I decided after one successful try, I was certainly ready to solder prongs onto the sterling silver snowflake I had sawed out, right? & nbsp;Ummm . . . not necessarily! & nbsp;Lol. & nbsp;I struggled getting the silver wire to even melt, let alone flow. & nbsp;I still haven't figured out what happened. & nbsp;Maybe it had to do with the sudden 40 degree drop in temps outside and my studio being several degrees cooler?

I finally managed to get the prongs on. & nbsp;But they were stiff and potentially brittle. & nbsp;I started to gently and slowly bend them over the druzy slice I wanted to mount. & nbsp;The last prong didn't make it. & nbsp;It snapped loose right at the solder joint. & nbsp;No bueno.

So, I was certain the other three would either pop off or would break off because they may be brittle. & nbsp;So I decided it was worth the risk of leaving them in place, covering my whole piece carefully in Firescoff, & nbsp;and trying to very carefully not solder the stone. & nbsp;Just as I was getting the solder to melt and flow just a tiny bit, the stone made a popping sound. & nbsp;a large surface sliver popped off. & nbsp;The druzy crystals on that side also crumbled off like rock salt. & nbsp;Niiiice . . . NOT!

I slid the stone out after carefully prying the prongs open just a bit. & nbsp;I decided to try one more carved piece of stone. & nbsp;I clenched my jaw and tried soldering that fourth prong once more and finally got it to flow and stick. & nbsp;I slid the new stone into the setting and started to push the prongs carefully into place. & nbsp;The newly soldered prong held beautifully. & nbsp;Then one of the other original 3 popped off. & nbsp;Grrr. & nbsp;FAIL!

This will have to wait for a new day . . . maybe a rivet technique and/or some solder paste will be my next attempt. & nbsp;We shall see! & nbsp;But at least I have one nice prong piece to show you! & nbsp;And if the sterling snowflake doesn't work out? & nbsp;Well, I'll just recycle it and use the credits toward more tools! :)

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