Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Learned something new today

Ceramic tiles will explode if you get them hot enough! Let me tell you how I know this. :)

I bought myself a metalsmithing book for xmas. I think it was February before I bought all the supplies. (They are kind of costly.) I got everything except a "fire brick" to work on. The nearby home improvement store did not carry it, and I never researched where to buy one. Since my days are already full of other duties, I've just been putting my metalsmithing plans on hold.

Well...today I decided enough was enough. I've long had visions dancing in my head...of my own polymer clay creations perfectly nestled within custom made sterling silver surroundings. And today was the last day I was going to put those ideas on hold, damnit! Or at least that's what I thought before I learned something new today. :)

Several months ago I brought home a spare 12" ceramic tile from our storage building. Aaron and I thought it might work as a solder surface. So this morning I started putting everything together to make my very first soldered piece of jewelry! I was so excited! FINALLY I was going to do it.
I sketched out my design. Measured and bent the wire. Cut up some solder chips. Mixed up some pickle solution in the baby crockpot. I decided to place the 12" tile on top of a small (toaster oven size) baking sheet, and place that on top of the largest burner on my stove top. I fired up the little torch and started heating the metal, trying to do it like the book instructed. (I only have experience soldering with an iron and wire. My torch experience is with glass. This is all new to me.)

I was getting frustrated because the tiny solder chip was not melting as fast as I thought it should. And I was wondering if I was using the torch properly. When all of a sudden....POP!!! The tile exploded into several pieces. Some of those pieces falling to the floor and my bare feet. Garrett was standing to my right, watching. He and I jumped back and squeeled like girls.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention....just before this, Garrett had dropped a Lego creation on the kitchen floor and legos were all over the floor. The girls were down there playing with the pieces. So when I jumped back, my left foot landed hard on a lego. Anyone who's stepped on a lego knows what that feels like. And my left foot landed on Lydia's foot. In a matter of 3 seconds I turned off the torch, put it down, cussed a lego and swooped Lydia up off the floor. Sort of in one fluid motion. Emily backed herself into the opposite corner of the kitchen and quietly watched the commotion.

Whew!! Talk about the wrong kind of excitement. I was so annoyed. For not making the girls leave the kitchen, and also for not being able to finally make a piece of jewelry. I'm glad none of us were burned or cut, or the house caught on fire. But damnit....I finally had the motivation to overcome the procrastination/depression bug....and I couldn't finish the project. GGRRR!!

Here is what the tile looked like AFTER. That is my little torch in the background. My bad ass ceramic tile bustin' torch, that is. :)


Cindy said...

Well dang! I'm sorry it was a bust. (Get it? LOL...I kill me!)

KC said...

LOL......I hate days like this...They happen all the time.

Ren said...

Eek! That's a bit dangerous.

Ceramics are not meant for heat work, they're great for insulation for things like molten glass and stuff but not for firing directly on to. Go to your hardware store and purchase a cinder block tile. It absorbs the heat and saves you from stepping on wayward lego. *sage nod*

illaya said...


From previous bad experiences similar to yours I learned that using improper materials can be painful.

Rathern than using a cinder block or anyother surface not meant for torch work go to this link and order some goodies.

You may even find a bail or two to try out. I also buy my metal supplies from these folks, they are great to work with.

Holding the light that your house offer is accepted and the house will not be a black hole for $.