The watermark technique

Small hands use classic jewelry techniques. There are all these small gestures: filing, brazing, polishing, cutting, sawing, forging, shaping, crimping, laminating, melting ... in short, the hack of little jeweler hands
They too found great pleasure in dancing with twisted silver threads: the filigree. They learned on the job of travel thanks to the transmission of a man: Joé, the craftsman of Mompox in Colombia.
Then they practiced and perfected ... hours and hours ... With this wire, they twisted, shaped, rolled up, filed the weld in spangles, welded such fine wire, gradually filled the element frames after elements ... they learned this work of metal lacework ... and they like to continue to develop this know-how ... and graft it little by little with other techniques.
This technique requires meticulousness and patience. Its rendering gives rise to fine and delicate jewels with a lace look. It is very old and fewer and fewer craftsmen practice it across the world.

Filigree pieces have been found for several centuries in various parts of the world. It was in Asia that this technique was born, the art of filigree was then exported to Europe in the 16th century.

Here are the different stages :

  • La Fonte
The birth of ingots or the first step in working with the material ...

First of all, you have to prepare the money. Pure (in a granule) it is too soft ... then room for calculations. A small proportion of copper is included in the silver granules .... We will then make 925 silver.

Then, the mixture is then heated to about 1000 degrees with an oxyhydrogen torch. The goal is to reach the melting point so that the metal can pass to its liquid stage and thus be able to flow into an ingot mold.

  • The sons
To make the watermark you need silver wire ... lengths and lengths of wires ... Once the ingot is manufactured, it is passed through a die so that it is stretched and transformed into fine wires ... a little sport, let's go shoot !!! and an interminable number of passes must be made in order to achieve the expected wire diameter.
  • The making of the Filigree
The birth of the twisted silver thread or the watermark

At the beginning the little hands learned to do it the "old fashioned" way. This involves taking two lengths of wire, twisting two ends. Then using two ends
of wood that we slide by friction one on the other ... we gradually make a twist growing centimeter by centimeter. A long job !!
Now the little hands have found a faster technique, but that's their little secret.

Once all the wires are twisted two by two ... they are passed through the rolling mill (tool) in order to be flattened using two steel rollers.

    Let's move on to the manufacture of a filigree jewel ...

    • The manufacture of the frame

    The first step is the realization of a frame with interstices that will be filled with the watermark. We cut and shape the wire to obtain the desired shape. The ends of the reinforcements are then welded with silver filings and borax. The structure is then sanded with sandpaper to make it flat and uniform.

    • Filling
    The frames are gradually filled with the watermark. There are several techniques for obtaining different textures and shapes.

    - The "caracoles" are shaped one by one with a round clamp ... They are then placed against each other in one / or more interstices of the reinforcement.

    - The "Panderos" and "Lagrimas". With a small magic tool with a notch on a steel rod ... the watermark is rolled up like a roll of liquorice. Then placed it in a gap in the frame.

    - The "Zigzague" . The watermark is passed through a tool (between two gears), which will give it the appearance of "waves". Then we gradually wind a thread
    embossed and a flat wire until coming back to the center of the circle.

    - The "Tomatillos" . They are made by winding a wire around a small metal rod. Then the spiral is again wound around this same rod to finally form small spring circles.

    • The welding
    Once the reinforcement is completely filled, it must be welded. To do so, it is sprinkled with fine silver filings and borax (to make the solder flow). The piece is then heated with a torch so that the solder flows over the entire surface of the jewel. This is then placed in a special bath to
    remove impurities from borax. Finally, it is brushed to restore the shiny appearance to the metal.
    • Finishes

    Then you have to finish the jewelry. Shape it and weld other elements (ring body, bail, crimp) ... here the classic jewelry techniques.

    Then brush the jewelry with sandpaper to remove scratches, blemishes.

    Finally ... for those who like shine: polish the jewelry using a cotton disc for a lustrous effect.

    ... after all these stages of small hands ... we are witnessing the birth of a little filigree jewel ...