“FUZHUN!” aka fusion… Once you discover the passion of fusing one metal to another, either like or unlike, a transformation often comes to one’s being, and a lifelong addiction can ensue and perpetuate with this “fire-play”.
I found my love of fusing silver on silver, gold on silver, and gold on gold in my second year of metalsmithing. Studying at Revere Academy in 2002, I took two 5-day workshops with professional long-term metalsmiths that were torch masters working with fusing and granulation. That “OMG” moment is still with me today. Over the course of the next few years, I studied with two other master fusers/granulators and learned some other approaches to fusing.
Most of the attached images are in 18 and 22K gold and were created from 2002-2008, but similar type work can be done in sterling silver with some gold enhancement. Of these pieces, 6 of them were sold prior to 2011. I focused primarily on rings prior to exploring steel and gold fusing.
A few more upscale pieces that were primarily fused, mostly working in gold, and were created prior to 2010. These were a few competition pieces I created.
16,000-18.000 hours of practice and exploration were dedicated to working with silver on silver, gold on silver, and gold on gold. The alloying of specific alloys of gold in my home studio created an even greater understanding of various golds and their properties, and how best to approach designs that would be gold alloy specific. Often the actual alloys were not possible to find at the normal gold suppliers., so they were alloyed and milled in my home studio
There was a certain sense of accomplishment creating and selling work that was mostly fused and had minimal or no solder content.
It was all about the torch, and perfecting torch control. And which torch? Smith acetylene/air? Meco Midget propane/oxygen? Little Torch propane/oxygen? Hoke Torch propane/oxygen? Swiss torch propane/oxygen? Plus some other less known torches. Adeptness with a torch, and understanding what heat desired and torch tip required was a whole other exploration over several years.
I found it possible to fuse various gold alloys to mild steel in 2009, using home cooked flux. Some of the alloys proved to be more effective for excellent gold coverage, and some of the torches and fuels were more favored. Once I really understood the processes, it became apparent that teaching the techniques was the next step for me. So 3 ½ years later after teaching mild steel/fused gold workshop in all 4 corners of the US, the Caribbean, and in Australia, I decided to drop back and teach a few select courses of fusing/granulating the more commonly used precious metals like silver and gold.
Some may find that steel and fused gold is not for them or their buyers, but they would like to learn more about fusing. I decided to add a few 5-day workshops in silver and gold mixed in with my normal Ferrous Musings mild steel/fused gold workshops. June 17 will be the inaugural day for this first new series of classes.
I will be teaching two other “Fuzhun and Rings!” workshops this summer in my home studio in the pines of Pagosa Springs. I look forward to sharing the techniques I have learned and refined, and most likely will be creating several new pieces in my “old metals’.
It is interesting that after fusing gold to steel where there is almost always a black “mask” of flux obscuring the actual flow of gold, there is a lot more awareness and focus of watching the surfaces of silver and gold change as they are brought to fusing temperatures. While the fusing of gold on steel often becomes more intuitive, it will be most interesting to watch the silver and gold fuse with surface textures changing, often with using little or no flux. Much less heat with a softer flame will be necessary-not a very hot blasting oxidizing flame to bring the steel and gold to over 2000 degrees F.
It will be fun to share fusing of silver and gold, plus granulation in my new Workshops. I can only expect that it will open up new ideas and techniques and approaches to my new students. And that students will feel that same “OMG” that I felt in April, 2002.
Attached is my workshop schedule for the rest of Summer, 2016.
Workshop Description and Registraion can be found on the Workshop page of my website: