Russian Filigree Powdered Solder
Instructions & Tips for working with Victoria’s Russian Filigree Powdered Solder
Works on sterling/fine silver, 18K/fine silver, and Argentium silver Russian filigree. Because it is a finer mesh, much less is needed to accomplish the same job. Please follow the instructions below in order not to use too much or flood your piece.
Warning: This product contains silver, bronze, copper, zinc, and borax. Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. Let contents settle before opening to prevent metal dust becoming airborne. May cause skin irritation. SDS available upon request.
Turn on your ventilation system.
Place filigree face down on compressed charcoal block.
Carefully open the jar. (Do not shake.)
Gently stir the contents in case the metal has settled.
Scoop a small amount of the powdered solder into the jar lid.
Mix several drops of distilled water in the lid to make a thin paste with the powder.
Gently paint the thin paste onto the filigree at each point to be connected.
Let the piece dry for 5 minutes to prevent the moisture from causing the solder to “boil.”
Solder by heating the whole piece. Always use adequate ventilation!
Return unused powdered solder in the jar lid to the container. To reconstitute, add more distilled water. Dried solder may be remixed indefinitely.
Cheap synthetic brushes work best.
Distilled water is a must! (Bottled or tap water may cause problems.)
Water turns the powdered solder a slightly darker color, which is normal.
If for any reason you need to re-flow a section of filigree where the solder has already flowed and the piece has been pickled, then you will need to flux that area with paste flux to help the solder re-flow.
Tips for Russian Filigree
Make sure your frame sits flat on the steel block
Remove any blobs of solder that may have pooled in the corners of your frame
Make sure your frame wires are straight and not twisted or tilted. This is extremely important when working with square frame wire.
If your filler wires won’t stay in, and you’re certain the frame is straight, flat, and free of solder blobs, the filler wire may not be straight from the loop to the end of the curve. If needed, reshape it with tweezers.
Make sure that your filler wire is sufficiently flattened. If it is too thick (not rolled enough), it may keep popping out when you place it in the frame. Roll it through the rolling mill again to make it slightly thinner. There is no need to anneal it again before or after.
Most types of torches will work on small pieces, but an air/acetylene works best on larger pieces (greater than 2″ x 2″). My personal favorite is the Goss brand torch kit.
Just as with any silver soldering, heat your piece evenly all over before concentrating on the area to be soldered. Because silver is a good conductor of heat, it’s possible to get one area red hot (or even to melt it) without getting the solder to flow. All over, even heat is the key.
Problem: The solder sticks to the brush or is difficult to make adhere to the filigree when applying.
Solutions: Make sure you’re using a cheap synthetic brush such as a flux brush. Artists’ brushes such as sable or other fine pointed brushes intended for painting may cause the solder to stick to the fibers instead of sticking to the filigree.
Mix more water into the powder in the lid.
Problem: The solder does not flow when heated.
Solutions: Make sure that the piece is evenly heated and for long enough to allow the solder to flow fully. It will mirror when it flows just like wire or sheet solder.
Be sure to pickle in between rounds of soldering. The flux in the Russian Filigree Powdered Solder will keep the metals clean enough for one round of soldering, but there may not be enough left to solder again without removing the oxidation or adding more solder.
Problem: The filler wire won’t solder to the frame.
Solutions: Use Distilled water not tap or bottled water! Water in certain areas may have high calcium, iron, or other contents that can create soldering problems by neutralizing the flux. Some bottled waters have minerals in them that can neutralize the flux as well.
Make sure you’re heating the frame enough for the solder to flow onto it and not just into the filler wires.
If you still have questions, or if you have tips you’d like to share, please email Victoria.