26 June 2012

Stone Rolled Wire

Awhile back I posted about the history of wire-making.
Well, I think its interesting.
Before steel tools were developed, smiths would roll a strip of gold between stones to make a 'snake',
a bit like you do with pastry or clay- between your hands.
Its difficult to do this with other metals Ive found, but gold is very malleable and ductile- so, once again, it proves to be a friend, willing to go on any adventure...

I recently completed an interesting commission- with a request for stone-rolled wire.
Here's the process. Some interesting ancient techniques used...

Here, Ive cast a long cylindrical ingot, then rolled it with a marble block on a marble slab.
(fairly frequent annealling was required) I think it took about 30 mins to roll this down to a wire.

Marble is a pretty soft stone, true, but Ive found that if the stone is too hard or too smooth, it just skids over the metal, instead of gripping it and making a nice rolling motion.
A little bit of marble dust is created, and gets rolled into the surface of the gold. Not sure what the consequences of that are- marble dust would be calcium carbonate (yes?) - so what will happen when I heat that? Black stuff? Im supposing it will just fall out, leaving a pitted surface, so much the better!
A dip into lemon juice would soon get rid of it...
In any case, the high purity gold wont be affected greatly- its non-reactive.

Dusty fingers..
The resulting wire has an interesting surface and irregular, slightly ovoid profile- not so 'perfect', but more dynamic and therefore mysterious.
It is a bit of a funny colour- dont worry- it'll come good.

Next time: what I made with the wire...

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