Great! The fact you are here indicates that you have already surmounted "the intimidation factor" that seems to surround soldering. Maybe the intimidation factor is based on the fact that there are no short-cuts in learning this skill. The fact is, that learning to solder requires a level of acceptance that it may not work the first (or second ;-) time. The key to learning soldering is being able to diagnose "Why" it didn't work. With this, each unexpected result just adds a little water to the seed of growth, allowing your skills to achieve full bloom.
Soldering is an essential skill in jewelry making, one that creates limitless possibilities of creativity. Although the fundamental properties of soldering do not change when working with metal clay, there are some considerations that need to be applied when soldering metal clay. Getting a flat surface on metal clay requires much more attention than when working with sheet metals for example. Understanding how to minimize warping is required. Also, how to make corrections to your setting position to compensate for warping is required.
Although metal clay provides a multitude of possibilities for setting gemstones, there are 2 very important limitations;
Gemstone choice is limited to gemstones that may survive kiln firing. However, the trade off is that firing metal clay at the required low temperatures WILL result in a low quality metal.
Embedding metal wire or creating metal clay bezels besides requiring complex calculations, provides inconsistent results without a rigid process to manage shrinkage.
The ability to make and set a bezel setting removes these limitations allowing for the use of any gemstone....imagine the possibilities!
Work with wire wrapping?, Want to add a silver chain necklace to that amazing polymer clay creation? Want to add charms to your bead work? Want to resize that ring that is just a little too big?
Knowing where to start can be a challenge, any online search will provide millions of results highlighting the multitude of options. So here are the key points that will narrow your search;
There are two principle methods of soldering (non-costume) jewelry:
"Low temperature" solder - a basic method using a solder that has flux mixed into (usually) a paste. Minimal tools and products are required, with most tools already within a basic jewelry making kit.
"Hard" solder - the standard method used in traditional metalwork and silversmithing. Some specialty tools and products are required. As these tools / products are available for all budgets, this is a opportunity feed the compulsion / need thoughtful process to acquire new tools.
There are other more advanced methods, but the equipment and skills are highly specialized. These methods are principally used by commercial producers.
Starting with a three step live video class with Rodi, you can start with level 1 and master the soldering. Progress to level 2 and set a round gemstone by making a bezel setting. Once you are ready, level 3 will take these skills and apply them to the specific considerations or working with the angle required to set a teardrop gemstone.