Review: Hot Connections Jewelry: The Complete Sourcebook of Soldering Techniques

Don’t let the title fool you.  Hot Connections Jewelry:  The Complete Sourcebook of Soldering Techniques by Jennifer Chin is not just about soldering and connections.  In fact, the majority of the book teaches the reader about all aspects of fabrication and working with metal to make jewelry.  More than you bargain for!

Having dabbled in soldering techniques myself, reading other books and tutorials on the subject and having just about everything it takes to do this type of work, I was very excited to receive this book for review.  Something was missing from my technique and something called “The Complete Sourcebook of Soldering Techniques” seemed to be just what I needed.

You see, when I take up a craft, not only do I like to learn all I can about the technique involved, but I go deeper.  I like to learn about the materials, at what temperatures do they do what, how do the elements have an effect on them, how long will they last, etc.

So, as I started reading I was ecstatic to find that the properties of metals were described.  Their make-up, melting points, etc.  But don’t worry, for you non-information-nerds, it is covered in a concise, easy to peruse fashion.  I love that about this book.  Tons of information but laid out in such a way that you can ingest it easily.

As I read through torch information, safety and workspace set up, imagine my surprise when I got to chapter two.  Essential Fabrication & Soldering Techniques.  The surprise to me was the amount of time and attention to fabrication this chapter started.  I’ve read plenty of materials on fabrication and this book covers a LOT…

measuring, scribing, sawing, filing. bending, hinges, drilling, sanding, riveting, forging, dapping, chasing, reticulating, embossing with a rolling mill, patina, polishing…should I go on?

Jackpot! in this here book!

I would consider myself an intermediate beginner.  I know basically what I’m doing, I have the whole metal working set up, I just need some practice and time at the bench.  I already know how to make jump rings and ear wires (there is instruction in the book for that).  Perfect for a beginner or someone who wants to start making their own components.  But the book goes on to more intermediate and advanced techniques as well.  Hinges, reticulation, flush stone setting, pin backs, mixing metals, inlay…

If you are interested in metal jewelry technique, you need this book.  Let me say that again…If you are interested in metal jewelry technique, you need this book.  It is my new sourcebook for this type of work.

Oh, and of course, GORGEOUS photos in the tutorials and of accomplished artist’s pieces.  I also like the hand-drawn illustrations that accompany the photographs.  Kudos to Jennifer Chin and Potter Craft Publishing.

You can purchase this book on or Barnes & Noble online.

NOTE:  I received a book for review from the publisher but do not receive anything from sales resulting from links on this page or any other future sales.


New Earrings Made by ME

I’m back from a week (yes, a FULL week!) of vacation in New York City.  Refreshed, inspired and having a new outlook on life.  It’s amazing what a full-on vacation can do for a soul.  Can you believe that in the 13 or so years that Sugah Daddy and I have been together that we’ve never taken a full weeks vacation?  We’ve taken 5-dayers here and there but it was many times work-related.  The difference with this vacation is that we were 99% unplugged.  Yes, we still had our phones but no work was done that wasn’t absolutely emergecncy or pleasure (like a trip to a NY Beads of Courage hospital).

But anyway, I caught up on my class videos and Sugah Daddy took the kids to a movie last light with the condition that I go into the studio and make something that I like. (that is, no production work).  Here is what I came up with:

These are the first project I completed.  I kind of rushed because I wanted to make sure I had something complete by the end of the night and didn’t know how much time to allow for flub ups.  Luckily there was only one.  Now that I know what is involved, I can take more time and refine the process/product.

The goal of this class though, isn’t to make exactly what Deryn is teaching but to get me in the jewelry making/frabrication state of mind so I can come up with something of my own.

New Directions in Jewelry…

If you’re a facebook friend and caught some recent posts and pictures you might already know that I’ve picked the jewelers torch up once again. I went to the Bead & Button show early this year to hang out with my buddy Chris Mode and to ‘help’ her in one of the the metal smithing classes she was teaching. I learned how to make a ring from a strip of metal sheet and how to set a bezel and stone. This was the result:

After that, we had some time to hang around in her 100 year old, red brick school house and she showed me how she solders bezels. This is the second time that someone has shown me and for some reason, this time it clicked. Maybe it is because I’ve tried on my own since the first time and failed. Maybe it’s because Chris has the magic touch. I don’t know. But I’m glad. Here is one of the first pieces I made upon returning home:

It’s a pendant that has a cab set into it that was once a glass bead. So, along with the silver work in this piece, there was a bead made in a torch and then fused in a kiln. If you think about it, that’s lots of hours that went into this piece.

Below is a rind with the same process. The difference is the organic shape of the bezel plate. I am surprised to find that I love sawing and filing and shaping. Chris loves soldering. I tell you, if we would be more near each other, we could really get some stuff done! in collaboration! I think I might just like to take that up with her.

And last, for this post, some links I’m working on. All made with beads that I’ve fused flat. My desire is to have lots of these and to link them together in bracelets and necklaces or to be used as clasps. I’m still working on honing my bezel setting technique and also the loop portion of these. I’m not fully happy with them yet but in a way I do like the primitive look of the metal. I think they would be interesting if they were antiqued also…exploiting the roughness of the silver from working it too much.

So, there you have it. My second (third?) foray into silver work. Now, I must head up to the UPS store to pick up my order from Rio with all of my new silver and a couple new tools that have been sitting and waiting for me while I was away on vacation. Next, I will receive the necessary die and crucibles that I ordered so that I can pour my own silver ingots and make my own bezel strips and wire sheet. That should be interesting!