Gold Jewelry Techniques: Granulation

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A gold dome was created as a base for applying
the granulation. First, a small gold ring will be fused to the
surface around which the granules will be placed. The ring is dipped into a solution of glue,
flux, and copper salt, diluted with water. Then, heated with the torch, the moisture in
the glue solution is very gently burned off. The air of the torch can disturb the placement
of the elements to be fused. When dried the glue turns to a dark brown
and the piece is heated more aggressively, just to the point where the surface melts
and the ring is fused to the surface. Now the granulation process begins. Tiny granules are made by snipping fine gold
wire over a charcoal block. Separating the pieces on the block will prevent granules from melting
into each other when heated. The tiny pieces of gold ball up into granules
when heated to melting point with the torch. The process is performed on a charcoal block because the charcoal creates a reducing atmosphere– one that consumes the oxygen, therefore preventing oxidation or discoloration of the piece. The tiny granules are dipped into the glue solution
and placed individually onto the work piece. The tension of the solution temporarily holds
the granules in place until the glue dries. Again, the glue is gently dried with a little
heat, without directly applying the flame, which would scatter the granules. Once the glue turns brown, more heat is applied,
until the granules fuse to the surface and to each other. If the heat is applied for an instant too
long, the whole piece could melt. A few granules may not fuse on the first try
and the process may be repeated, which is the advantage of fusing the granules rather than soldering.

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