Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments, Holiday Designs. Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder. Each year, I try to make a new ornament for our three Grandchildren using Argentium silver and gold-filled sheet metal.
Snowflake Ornaments
by Judy Larson
  • Category: Holiday Designs
  • Technique(s): Butane Torch Techniques
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
Each year, I try to make a new ornament for our three Grandchildren using Argentium silver and gold-filled sheet metal. If we had more than three Grandchildren, I definitely would be using nickel silver and brass. I got a little, OK, a lot, carried away this year and they each are receiving three snowflakes.

Materials

24 Gauge 0.020 Dead Soft Red Brass Sheet Metal - 6x12 Inch
MET-704.24M
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $10.78
  • Gold Club Price: $8.09
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24 Gauge 0.020 Dead Soft Nickel Silver Sheet Metal - 6x12 Inch
MET-703.24M
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $20.98
  • Gold Club Price: $15.74
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24 Gauge Dead Soft Argentium Silver Sheet - 6 Inches
H19-24SM6
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1 Inch
  • Price: $41.83
  • Gold Club Price: $31.37
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18 Gauge Square Dead Soft Red Brass Wire
H3-18SQD
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $1.89
  • Gold Club Price: $1.42
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18 Gauge Square Half Hard Argentium .940 Silver Wire
H19-18SQH
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $7.25
  • Gold Club Price: $5.44
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6mm Round Light Amethyst CZ - Pack of 2
E5-16V
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $1.77
  • Gold Club Price: $1.33
Out of Stock
6mm Round Yellow CZ - Pack of 2
E5-16Y
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $1.77
  • Gold Club Price: $1.33
Out of Stock
6mm Round Dark Champagne CZ - Pack of 2
E5-16D
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $1.77
  • Gold Club Price: $1.33
Out of Stock
6mm Round Sterling Silver Snapset for Faceted Gemstone - Pack of 2
K2-2
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $2.67
  • Gold Club Price: $2.00
Out of Stock
26 Gauge Red Brass Bezel Wire - 10FT
H30-3B
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $13.20
  • Gold Club Price: $9.90
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28 Gauge 3/16" Fine Silver Bezel Wire
H9-28BZL
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 1FT
  • Price: $10.88
  • Gold Club Price: $8.16
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Tools

4 Saw Frame with Tension Screw
SAW-334.00
  • SAW-334.00
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $21.97
  • Gold Club Price: $16.48
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Basic Sawing Kit
G15-7
  • G15-7
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $34.95
  • Gold Club Price: $26.21
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2/0 Relentless Sawblade - Sold by the Dozen
SAW-400.05D
  • SAW-400.05D
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $3.97
  • Gold Club Price: $2.98
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Large Disc Cutter
DAP-410.10
  • DAP-410.10
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $55.95
  • Gold Club Price: $41.96
Out of Stock
Basic Soldering Kit
G15-4
  • G15-4
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $58.95
  • Gold Club Price: $44.21
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Solderite Soldering Board 6 Inch by 12 Inch Soft
SOL-421.20
  • SOL-421.20
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $21.95
  • Gold Club Price: $16.46
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Instructions
Step 1
Read through the tutorial before starting the project. Follow all safety precautions pertaining to the tools and supplies being used and the space you are working in. Some sawing and soldering experience is needed to complete this project.

Because snowflake designs do not lend themselves to being cut out with shears, simple snowflakes are great sawing practice designs.

The more angles that need to be cut, the more time consuming and more difficult the cutting will be for a novice (upper right snowflake in the photo). The fewer turns and more rounded parts, the easier the snowflake may be to cut out (lower small snowflake).

Search online for snowflake shapes that you like and will fit your skill level for sawing. Cut and paste the parts that will work best for you. If adding a stone to the center, make sure the snowflake center is large enough to accommodate it. Small glass pebbles were used here on the two larger snowflakes and 6mm round CZ's were set on the smaller snowflakes.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 2
Adjust the size of the snowflake design to the desired size. Keep in mind the size of the design in relation to the depth of the saw frame that will be used. Even though the width of the design fits the frame, if the corner-to-corner distance of the sheet metal is too wide, turning while sawing will be almost impossible and blades will be broken.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 3
Laying out the templates on the chosen sheet metal is a bit like putting a puzzle together when trying to conserve as much metal as possible. Once the puzzle pieces are in place, glue each piece down to the sheet metal.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 4
Cut the snowflake design out.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 5
If decorative holes will be punched in the outer arms of a snowflake, where they will be punched may need adjustment, depending on how well the sawing went. A 1.8mm hole punch was used here.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 6
Having a hole in the center of the snowflake where light can pass through a glass pebble is a nice touch.

Glass pebbles have a bottom edge that slopes upward. Choose a hole size that avoids the slope. Punch the hole in the center of the snowflake. The holes for these snowflakes were 5/16" in diameter.

Options: 1: Punch a hole in the center of the snowflake only large enough for a bulb from a light strand to fit through. 2: After Step 7, Glue or rivet a decorative element to the center.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 7
Remove the paper template. Clean and refine the snowflake front and back surfaces as well as the edges. These ornaments may be around for years, if not generations, and will be subjected to some abuse. By leaving the surfaces with a bit more satin finish and a few "scratches," they will hopefully age better.
Step 8
Make a bezel and reshape it for the center stone. No two glass pebbles are exactly the same size, so keep each pebble and corresponding bezel separate if making multiples of the same design.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 9
Since I had quite a bit of 24 gauge sheet metal on hand, that is the gauge I used for all my snowflakes. One of my snowflakes was a little over 3" in diameter. If the snowflake is over 2½" in diameter, 24 gauge sheet is too thin. To adjust for that, add 16 or 18 gauge "spines" to the snowflake arms. These were cut longer than needed in case the ends balled up if too much heat was used. Add a jump ring to the end of one arm and decorative dots, cut from sheet metal scraps, where desired. The jump ring should match the width of the arm end and the depth of the spine wire. A hole can be punched inside the jump ring after the snowflake ornament is cool.

Easy paste solder flows at a lower temperature than medium. Easy paste solder was used because the more heat that is used, the more likely it is that the small snowflake sections would melt during soldering. The bezel and all the embellishments were soldered on at the same time.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 10
When combining several small snowflakes, overlap them and mark the bottom one so you know where to place the easy paste solder. Place a small dot of easy paste solder in the center of each snowflake and press a snap set into it. Place a small dot of easy paste solder on the uppermost snowflake arm and press a closed jump ring that fits the width of the arm into it. A hole can be punched inside the jump ring after the snowflake ornament is cool.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 11
After assembling a snowflake, it is time to solder. Be VERY careful. The small snowflake arms can easily melt if your mind wanders-been there, done that! If this happens, IMMEDIATELY remove the heat from that area and finish heating the entire snowflake until the solder flows. You may need to come at the melted area from a different angle.
If melting occurred, all is not lost. Gently hammer that section as flat as possible and reshape it with a file.
Step 12
Clean up excess solder spill-over, if needed.
Step 13
Pickle the snowflake.
Step 14
Tumble the snowflake for several hours.
Step 15
Set bezel set stones. To avoid tool marks, cut a small piece of tagboard or notecard to fit the bezel curve. Use it as a shield when setting the stone.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 16
Audition the CZ's. Here, the top and bottom CZ's are Christmas red and green. The center CZ is the September birthstone of one of the Grandchildren.
To set a stone in a snap set prong setting: Place the stone, table (flat top) down and culet (pointy side) side up, on a bench block. Keeping the piece level, place the snap set prongs down on the stone and push until a click is heard. The stone is set! Repeat the process for all the stones.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Step 17
Storing silver ornaments in plastic bags can leave marks on the metal when the plastic deteriorates. Also, plastic does not provide any cushion for the pieces. Ornaments grouped together for storage can scratch each other so I make an anti-tarnish Silvercloth drawstring bag for EACH ornament to be stored in. Each bag is the same size as previous years ornament bags so there is no worry about which ornament goes in which bag at the end of the season.
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament
Judy Larson's Snowflake Ornaments - , Holiday Designs, Butane Torch, Soldering, Solder, snowflake ornament