Introducing Technique Tuesday #1: Reticulation

I thought it might be fun to occasionally share some of my most loved jewellery techniques here, so I’m introducing Technique Tuesday! I am starting with one of my very favourite techniques that I learned in jewellery school: Reticulation.
It is a surface texture that involves heating a piece of silver & quenching it numerous times. I like to use sterling silver (92.5% fine silver, 7.5% copper) for reticulation, although silver mixed with a higher copper content is often recommended.
Before achieving the texture, a layer of fine silver must be built up on the surface of the metal. This is done by heating the metal & quenching it in the pickle solution to remove any oxides that are coming to the surface. The number of times of heating & quenching will vary. I have been able to achieve the fine silver build up in about 5 repetitions, or as many as 10.
First I heat up the metal.
sterling silver sheet

It may look something like this the first couple rounds of heating.

Time to toss the metal into the pickle pot! It’s best to do this after heating each time.

Eventually the surface of the metal will turn a dull whitish/grey colour. It may seem like it’s never going to happen, but it will!
A couple of more repetitions of the heating and quenching cycle, and when the metal is pretty much the whitish colour all over, it’s ready to be reticulated!

I hope my photos give you more of an idea of how I build up the layer of fine silver to the surface.
Now it is time to reticulate! I have made a short video since it is sort of hard to capture in photos. I know that it is hard to see everything I’m talking about, but I think it gives you a better look at how this texture comes to be.

Technique Tuesday #1


Here is the piece after pickling & a good scrub with a steel brush, soap & water.
handmade reticulated sterling silver

While I can’t promise a weekly Technique Tuesday, please know that however random they are, they will most certainly always be on a Tuesday! I hope you’ve enjoyed the first one, along with my video debut!
Thanks to my dear studio mate Patsy for offering to make the video for me to share with all of you!
Here is a great read if you’d like more detailed info about the reticulation process from my favourite online jewellery resource.

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