By now I would hope you all had heard about the new weekly blog post here on the EtsyMetal blog. Ann Hartley of Hartleystudio and, Sue Szabo of lsueszabo , will be answering YOUR questions in a weekly post we are calling "Ask Auntie EM". EtsyMetal has over 100 members with vast amounts of knowledge and far reaching interests and capabilities. We figured if we couldn't answer your questions...someone on the team could! "What can we ask?" Great question! Ask anything! Metalsmithing, enameling, raising, stone setting, cooking, childcare, travel...you got a question, we probably have an answer! To ask a question, email it to email@example.com. Who knows, you may get it answered next week!
This week's question made me snort out loud! We are going to refer to the asker this week as Ms. E to keep her identity a secret because she is asking what we have ALL wondered about from time to time, the dreaded G word...glue. Here is her email.
Questions from a learning Metalsmith..... I am a little scared to ask Auntie what her opinions are on.....well....the dreaded G word. Glue.
I have always been taught that epoxy and other permanent glues are a last resort for fine art jewelry when setting stones, parts and pieces. Lately, I've been having trouble getting my cabochons to sit "just so" inside my bezel, and they tend to rock around just a bit when pushed in the right places, and I've considered the G-word as a fix for this problem..... What's your opinion on glue? Where does it belong in the wide world of fine art Jewelry? Is it cheating, poor craftsmanship? Or is it just common sense and I'm being a silly stuck-in-my-ways purist?
Auntie EM has some very strong opinions on glue and I'm gonna share them with you. Most of the time when you mention the word glue, people make this face:
But that really isn't necessary. Glue has it's limited place and, once you learn to solve the problems glue solves, you will head your need for it off at the pass.
Most likely, there are two reasons your stones are rocking in their bezels. The first is fixable the second is more complicated. The first thing you want to look at is your stone. Is it flat on the bottom? when you set it on your bench block does it rock around or does it sit nice and flat? If it sets nice and flat, hang with me here...if it rocks you have a problem. Poorly cut stones are the bane of the setter's existence. Wonky girdles and big bellies on faceted stones and non flat backs on cabochons make stones REALLY hard to set, even for an experienced setter. My first piece of advice is to buy only good quality stones. Don't learn to set garbage, you will never learn properly and you will frustrate yourself until you give up. So, if your cabochon has a wavy or uneven back, you can try packing the bezel with sawdust to even everything out and then set your stone. A cabochon without a flat back will never stay tight in a mounting and it's not ok to use glue. Do you want me to say that again? It's not ok to glue it in, ever. Now, I know that some humongous big wigs in the jewelry industry use a dab of glue here and there. How does Auntie know this? Because she has had to unseat those stones and there it is, bold as brass. BUT, it was there purely as insurance, not as the primary means of holding the stone tight. Your bezel or prongs should ALWAYS hold the stone tight, never the glue.
Now, if your stone is of a good make and it's still rocking in the setting, I'd bet you have a little ball of solder inside the bezel that needs to be ground out of there. If that's not the case, the bezel is too tight and you need to grind some material out of there.
It is never ok to glue together components when you could solder them or rivet them. Ever. Never. Glue is poor design, poor craftspersonship and the easy way out. There are more ways to cold connect than I can count. There is an excellent book here with lots of information and ideas to avoid the G word.
So, if it's not ok to use glue to set a stone or hold a piece together, when is it ok to use glue? Pearls. Pearls should always have a dab of glue. You should use a 2 part 5 minute epoxy because it stays flexible and doesn't get hard, brittle and yellow over time. Even if you're bezel setting the pearl, use a dab of glue. You'll thank me. What if you glue that pearl onto that post and now you need to get it off? There is a product called Attack epoxy solvent that will dissolve the epoxy and not damage the pearl. It's horrible stuff so vent well and don't leave the container open. It will evaporate in 15 minutes. Another place where you could use glue is bezel setting a VERY tall bullet cabochon...this is the place for some extra insurance. Bezel setting a stone with a very steep pitch will require some extra holding power and glue is ok here as well. I have also personally glued leather cord into sterling end caps back in the day, that's ok too.
Since we are talking about glue here...I'd also like to add that super glue is an EXCELLENT tool to have on your bench. Super glue burns off clean so you can glue two pieces of sheet together and pierce both at the same time, you can glue pieces together and then bind them for soldering. The glue will burn away cleanly before the solder flows. It's also bad for brain cells so make sure to ventilate well.
I hope this answers your question Ms. E. Sorry, I think it's not the answer you wanted but Auntie EM has to be honest! Next week, Auntie EM will tackle sandblasting so head on back here next week. Do you have a question!!??? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to answer your questions in the weeks to come. Until them, happy metalsmithing from Ann and Sue! See you next week!!!