Filigree is an ancient silverworking jewellery method with differnet styles across the globe. Techniques include forms of cutting, bending and soldering silver wires to create one-of-a-kind, intricately looped jewellery pieces. Not to be confused with wire wrapping, filigree uses silversmithing methods including the hammering and heating of metals to create desired shapes. Filigree tools depend on crafter preference but basic set-ups include cutters, pliers, soldering and torch equipment.
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Wire cutters are imperative in filigree jewellery making, as they effortlessly chomp through all sizes of wire work. This tool creates a clean cut through materials, making it a saviour for cutting through mistake loops or melted wire. Wire cutters are used throughout the bending and soldering process to create new wire elements and to remove those that aren't working out.
Shaping tools are the most significant supplies in filigree jewellery making, as the style is known for its intricate wire-bending loop work. Round-nose pliers are essential for bending wire into curly cues and vines, and the pliers are also helpful for picking up wire pieces and placing them onto their soldering location. Planishing hammers are used to curve or flatten the sheet metal used in filigree bases. This metal is much stronger than the decorative wire and cannot be bent with pliers.
A vice can be used to hold your project in place when you are using multiple tools and need extra hands. Vices are adjustable clamping mechanisms that pinch work between two surfaces, freeing hands for plier, soldering or torch work. Though not necessary, a vice aids the jewellery making process as it allows you to work from all angles unlike a flat surface.
Used in combination, a soldering pick and torch are the tools that heat and attach filigree pieces. The soldering pick is used to transfer solder onto the jewellery piece, and the torch is used to heat up the solder and wire elements to melt and conjoin pieces. The soldering pick can also be used to adjust loose pieces into place. Pickle formula is a sulphuric acid solution that is used after soldering to restore the marred appearance of wires.
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