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TOOLS AND METALS
Thank you to Erica Sharpe for sharing her tin knowledge and expertise.
Working with Tin
When heated, tin bonds very readily with other
metals, especially gold and silver (even at very low
temperatures), and this is irreversible, so keep tools
used for tin separate, use a different work bench, and
vacuum up any dust and filings.
Tin can be joined using a plumbers’ type solder
and low heat. Larger pieces are created using fold
joins (see p. 138).
Polishing can be achieved using a series of increasingly
fine abrasive papers followed by a jeweler’s mop or a
handheld pendant motor mop. Tin can also be tumble-
polished with fine steel shot in a barrel polisher
(see p. 51).
The softness of tin means that it is easily dented,
scratched, or bruised, so avoid anything too thin or
intricate (e.g. pendant loops, hinges, catches). Rings
and bangles must be heavy and not detailed.
Use a leather mallet to avoid denting the tin when
hammering; steel hammers will mark it more readily.
Bending and rolling can be done without softening,
using pliers, your hands, hammers, and rolling mills.
Listen for the “cry of tin”—the sound of the crystal
structure shearing as the tin is worked!
Tin is a beautiful soft white metal with a very low
melting point. It is nontoxic, not readily tarnished,
and can either take on a bright polish or a textured
finish. Tin can be worked in a similar way to pewter
(the majority of pewter consists of tin; see p. 90).
In Cornwall, England, tin is traditionally associated
with a tenth wedding anniversary, and Cornish tin has
shaped the landscape and heritage of southern Britain
for thousands of years.
Left: Patinated earrings made from
sterling silver and a recycled tin can,
by Carrie Crocker.
Left: Earrings made from a vintage tea tin,
by Betsy Menson Sio.
Center: Bracelet made from woven tin,
by Betsy Menson Sio.
Right: Earrings made from a vintage tin
can, by Carrie Crocker.
Tin was one of the earliest metals to be known and used—
it is a component of bronze and has been used for this from
as early as 3500 B.C.
FOR TUTORIALS See:
Cutting and piercing p. 114
Finishing p. 164
Soldering p. 120