Hooray, I have mostly finished putting my fairy and twig together.
This work requires that the castings be cleaned and prepared for assembly. I call this soldering, but it is really known as brazing. Brazing joins two metals by heating and melting a filler that bonds to the two pieces of metal and joins them. I typically use what is called a bronze solder which melts at 760 C, and I sometime use silver solders that melt at 700 C to 750 C.
Soldering is a low-temperature analog to brazing. Soldering is the term used for metals that melt under 450 C.
At brazing temperatures the bronze actually has to glow red before the solder will melt. I use an acetylene torch to reach the necessary temperatures. You can see in the first picture how I am feeding bronze wire solder into the red hot joint of the twig. The second picture shows how I have the fairy head at a red hot temperature to solder it to the fairy’s body.
I use different bronze alloys in my work. The collar around the fairy’s neck is actually a white bronze alloy that is composed of 58% copper, 1% lead and various amounts of manganese, zinc and aluminum. This alloy melts at 900 C which is quite close to my soldering temperature. If I am not careful I can melt the piece. So, when I soldered the fairy’s head to the body I actually put a 3/16 inch bronze pin into the body that would go up a hole drilled inside the neck. The pin was tinned with solder first, and then when the head was put on and heated to red hot it would melt this solder and so attach itself to the body. If I had heated the collar so as to heat the neck I would have melted the white bronze alloy.
The fairy’s hair was cast from a yellow brass alloy. This alloy is composed of 63% copper, 1% lead, and various amounts of zinc and tin. I don’t like casting the yellow brass because it contains a high percentage of zinc which boils and smokes, but the yellow colour will make the hair look golden when cleaned and polished.
The next step is to attach the leaves and fruit to the twig. I also need to mould and cast the fairy’s wings. Once this is done I will move into the final finishing phase. At this time I will colour the fairy with some enamel and mount some crystals or stones to decorate the piece. I will also put some thought into the stonework for the base.
I may have this done in another week or two.