Thursday, 19 February 2015

Using My Scrap Sterling Silver and Bronze To Make Pod Earrings

It's very satisfying to use your scrap metal and make something you really like with it. I normally save my sterling silver scrap in a pot that I then send off when it's full for recycling in return for a nice amount of cash. But sometimes I like to get out my torch and just melt stuff and I've never done pods before......

Sterling silver and bronze will melt easily and form pebbles, sometimes lovely and round in shape and sometimes a bit more organic and freeform. Regardless of their shape you then have a piece of metal you can do things with. I watched a video by Janice Berkebile recently where she made some pod earrings which is what inspired me to play around with some of my scrap silver and bronze.

Here are some bronze pebbles that I've hammered to flatten them slightly before putting them through the rolling mill {that soldering block looks disgusting doesn't it?!}

A bronze pebble about to be squished. Bronze is a harder metal than silver and copper so needs to be annealed a couple of times times as you're flattening it with the rolling mill.

The flattened bronze pebbles. They are all slightly different, not perfectly round but lovely natural looking shapes. The next step was to anneal them again then dome them gently before pickling them to remove the oxides.

After normal pickling they then had to go into a super pickle mix to remove the copper plating that occurs when you heat bronze. I had been using a mix of hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar for the super pickle but I found adding some normal pickle to it gingers things up a bit and speeds up the cleaning process. It also produces more bubbles as you can see in this photo. They look like little underwater volcanoes! I set the plastic container of super pickle on top of my pickle pot so the heat helps to speed things up too.

The "pods" after a quick clean up. The edges are quite rough but can be filed and sanded to a smoother finish or left a bit more rustic if you're that way inclined. The silver triple stack and the bronze doubles towards the back of the photo are ready for soldering together once I've sorted out a silver ball for them all. I had quite a few fine silver balls ready made but have discovered I'm very skilled at dropping them on the floor when I'm trying to decide which size ball goes best with which size pod stack so I need to make some more! Then I'll use them to make earrings of some description - haven't got that far yet.
I have made a couple of pairs so far.....

Sterling silver pod studs

Copper stick earrings with sterling silver pods and lots of little balls :D I've also made myself a pod ring that I'm wearing as I type.....

I'm not sure "pod" is the right word to describe what these shapes are but as I'm not inspired to think of anything else at the moment it will have to do for now .....


  1. I love pods and think that they are adorable

  2. Fab, I especially love the ring! x

  3. Hi, I follow you for a short time... but I'm very fascinated by the way you work! Is every time a pleasure :-)

  4. Interesting blog as always. Fascinating to see your techniques and the lovely end results!
    Heather :)

  5. Mi piacerebbe tantissimo vederti al lavoro, mentre produci queste meraviglie!

  6. Great reuse of the scraps! The pieces are gorgeous. Pods is a perfect word for those little shapes. I love the pickling action shot!

  7. These are fab and I love you have found a way to reuse scraps instead of how I use them (balls, balls and more balls!). I have tried hammering my balls (!) and texturing them but a rolling machine is still a dream I can dream... Love catching up with your blog.
    Kristin :)

    1. Thanks Kristin! Having a rolling mill does make life easier when it comes to flattening things. You can still do it with a hammer - it just takes more elbow grease!

  8. These are absolutely gorgeous!


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