Metals that work best for filigree tend to be highly malleable, and thus are most typically silver and gold. Copper can also be used to make filigree. It can be kept as is once complete or plated in silver or gold.
Currently L'element Studio uses fine and argentium silver to craft our fine filigree. Sterling Silver clasps and chains are also incorporated.
Some of the many tools used in the creation of fine filigree at L'element Studio include various tweezers, hammers, and pliers, a bench block, a dapping block and punches, scissors or nippers, and a hand drill. For the soldering and metal melting process we use a blowpipe, or torch, that runs on acetylene, or propane, and is mixed with oxygen. This process is performed over a charcoal soldering block.
Frames are essentially the outline of the filigree piece. They are constructed using heavier gauge metal that can be square, round, flat or half round. Since the filler wire or threads are much finer, frame wire of differing gauges can also be utilized inside the design to help break up space and add more depth and detail to the piece.
The filler wire, or threads, are smaller, finer wire than the frames and used to add detail and depth to the filigree piece. They can be round, square, half-round, etc. They can be twisted, flattened or twisted and flattened; depending on what the artist has in mind. However, don't let this information deter you, push the boundaries and try different avenues to create something new and amazing!
Once the construction of filigree is determined and all the frames, threads and any other embellishments have been made, they will need to be soldered in order to weld each component together to form one continuous piece. Solders vary depending on the melting point of the metal being used, and are typically classified as easy, medium, and hard. Depending on the production phase, the solder with the appropriate melting point is selected. Solder comes in many forms ranging from sheet and wire to powder and paste.
The size, shape and level of detail of filigree are endless. The only limitations is what the artist sets. With enough time, focus, and imagination anything can be accomplished.
Thank you everyone for coming out and enjoying the markets every weekend. The season is winding down with only two Saturdays left. We'd love to see you before the market is done for the year. Have a great week and we'll see you Saturday, September 18th at the Spenard Farmers Market.