Step 1: Choosing a Die (some Samples of My Favorite Dies)
Step 2: Anneal the Metal
To learn about annealing sterling silver turn to page 46 in the July, 2012 issue of Creating Linus Jewellery. CLJ is a free online magazine packed full of tutorials, articles and interviews with jewellery artists.
Step 3: Setting the Rollers
Raise the Rollers high enough that the metal can easily slide between the two rollers. Do not have the Die on the metal at this point.; use just the metal to set the Rollers
Bring the rollers down until the metal is tightly secured; you should not be able to move the metal with your fingers.
Using pencil, draw registration lines on the center gear and one of the outer gears. Raise the rollers just high enough to remove the metal, then lower them back down until the registration lines match up once more. Now the rollers are set to the same thickness as the metal; this is always the starting point.
A nice new Rolling Mill will have dials on the gears with numbers that can spin. This will allow you to easily set the tension. But my old purchased used Rolling Mill is missing them; so I use the pencil method. If your Rolling Mill still has the Dials; instead of marking with pencil, tighten the metal between the two rollers and move either the dial on the left or right to zero; do not adjust this once set. Open the rollers enough to remove the metal, then close the rollers until back to zero.
Step 4: Setting the Tension
Depending what the die is the rollers may need to stay at the starting point, or might need to be tightened or loosened. When trying a new die I always do a quick sample in copper. Generally speaking not much tension is needed on most dies; just tighten the rollers a bit. A little experimenting will be required.
Step 5: Doing the Roll
If you start rolling and find the metal won't go in, sometimes pushing hard on the metal while cranking the handle will help get it started. The rule of too much tension still applies; if the handle is too difficult to move, the tension will need to be loosened.
Now that you have your texture treat the metal with care; any scratch or mark you make will be impossible to get out without removing your texture.
Step 6: Some Advice on Purchasing a Rolling Mill With the Intent to Roller Print
Rolling mills come in various roller styles the two most common are: Combination (wire and sheet) and sheet (no wire).
The rollers will be available in various lengths; for example: 90 mm or 110 mm. If you have no intention of making wire, going with a flat only mill can be advantageous; since flat only mills offer wider rollers, larger pieces of metal can be roller printed with them.
The two most popular Rolling Mills are Durston and Pepe. I've used them both and liked them equally. There are economy Rolling Mills available but I feel this is one item where spending a little more now will pay off in the long run. For $200 - $500 more you can get a pretty good Rolling mill that will last a life time.
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