I love everything about broom casting. The process is involved but the ability to put my silver scrap to genuine use is fantastic. (Especially now that silver is $40 an ounce!)
Retrieving the broom cast pieces from the straw is like opening presents--there are fabulous surprises in there. Some duds too, but it's very cool to see the results. Some of the silver sort of wraps around the individual straw pieces and I have to slide them off the end to see what it looks like. Those are great to use in jewelry because they have little areas that stick out and under and I can tuck a few pieces together.
Assembling them into an actual useable piece of jewelry is extremely time consuming. It's like putting together a teeny tiny puzzle by dropping the pieces into place with tweezers. I map out the piece by laying it all out, then take it apart to flux and add solder to it, then put the puzzle back together again, hopefully in the same (ish) order it was in before. My family thinks I'm out at my workbench making jewelry, but in my head I'm really doing this:
I have the tweezers. I grasp the silver and care.full.y. place it where I think it will go. Sometimes it stays there, but it often slides or falls, occasionally taking other pieces with it. So all of this stacking and re-stacking takes forever.
The soldering is also a guessing game; under the torch the piece seems to swell from the heat and the flux as it sort of bubbles up. When everything settles back in, the pieces don't always end up where they're supposed to. Soldering the broom castings = multiple attempts.
So it can be frustrating and unrewarding. But when it works, it's glorious...probably because the road to the final product is filled with disappointments.
Over the holiday weekend I made broom castings to work with and made two rings. Forget the sanding and polishing--just the broom casting sessions and the soldering took almost four hours.
But I love them. And that's really an understatement. I think they're weird and cool and interesting and fun all at the same time. And if nobody else thinks so....well, they both fit me and I would be happy to keep them!