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Reticulation

I’ve just put a reticulated bangle into the Rogue’s Gallery and I thought that the technique could do with a bit of explanation.
‘Reticulate’ comes from the Latin word ‘rēticulātus’ meaning ‘net like’ and describes a surface that has veins, fibres or lines crossing.
Reticulated sufaces are used in jewellery to provide an interesting, random texture, often used as a counterpoint to flat polished surfaces.

Reticulated pendantThere’s some lovely example of the use of reticulation in the work of John Paul Delmatoff.
I love the simplicity of this pendant (and am rather annoyed that he designed it rather than me).

So how’s it done?
Basically you have to melt the surface of the metal without melting the whole thing so that it just becomes an amorphous blob. This is done by playing a blow torch over the metal until the top surface is a swimming shimmering skin of molten metal. Then, when the torch is withdrawn, the metal cools rapidly and contracts into wrinkles.
There’s a lot of careful preparation involved if you want this to work well. You can’t just take a torch to a piece of silver sheet and hope to get good results. For more on this you can watch this video.  If you just want to see the moment when the metal wrinkles then go to about the 7th minute and start there.

 

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