Robin Phillips Jewelry

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Texturing metal


reticulationThis is a process of bringing fine silver to the surface of sterling silver by heating the silver to an annealing temperature and quenching it in acid (pickle). This process is repeated 5-6 times.

The layer of fine silver is then heated to just past the annealing temperature and the flame is concentrated on one area until the surface of fine silver begins to "ripple". It is vital that the whole of the piece is not allowed to cool and it is sometimes necessary to use two torches to keep the piece at temperature.

As the "rippling' progresses the torch is moved along the piece in a controlled manner until the desired effect is achieved. This is a permanent finish and lends itself to interesting colourations through oxidation.



acid etched opal necklaceThe etching technique uses acid to corrode metal. A resist is applied to mask the areas that are not to be etched. For etching into sterling silver nitric acid is used.

The strength of the solution will determine how crisp the 'bite' into the metal is.

This is a technique that requires excellent ventilation and protective clothing as well as a respirator because the fumes are noxious.



pearl brooch with hammered edgeThe hammer is one of the most versatile tools when it comes to adding texture.

Patterns can be varied by the shape of the hammer, the force with which the object is struck, and whether the object is being struck on steel, lead, wood or pitch. The striking edge of the hammer can also be altered by filing into it, creating a new texture.



embossed earrings

Embossing refers to patterns and designs imprinted onto metal by using extreme pressure, usually with the aid of a rolling mill.

Materials such as cloth, plastic, paper or even leaves and feathers can leave impressions on metal. Hard metals like steel and nickel silver may also be used but care must be taken not to damage the rollers on the mill.

First the metal, usually gold or silver, is prepared by annealing to 'soften' it so the texture will be accepted. The metal to be textured is usually sandwiched between two pieces of brass (to protect the rollers) along with the material being used to produce the texture.

When put through the rolling mill at the correct pressure, the texture will be picked up by the softened metal. After going through the mill the metal will become quite hard again and will have to be re-annealed if more texture is desired.



hand engraved cloisonné broochEngraving is the process of cutting lines into metal by using sharp tools called gravers. Patterns can be added in this way. I often engrave under my enameling to give added depth and texture to the piece.



Granulation is the fusing, not soldering, of very small balls of high carat gold or fine silver to a metal surface.

This technique adds a different dimension to texturing because it is a definite spherical shape that is raised from the surface of the metal. If desired, the piece can then be rolled through a mill to slightly flatten it.


All jewelry and photographs are by Robin Phillips and may not be used without written permission