This is not strictly inlay as there is no underlying supporting metal sheet; it's more metal mosaic/married metals.

It is a good way to make your silver go further and use contrasting metals like copper and brass (or yellow and rose gold if you're feeling flush!)

Ideal tools (but not all essential) for the job:
Riveting hammer
Steel block
Parallel pliers
Round drawplate
Rolling mill
Drill of some type
Varying size drill bits
Centre punch




For a circular design, start off with scribing a circle on a square of copper







Then scribe out a pattern, and use the centre punch to mark where you're going to drill







Drill holes according to the size you want them







You could just cut out the shape that you want to start with. However in this example, I haven't cut out the circle first because I want to cut lines all the way across the circle and it would fall to pieces. I've drilled holes just outside the edge of the circle to put my sawblade through. I would recommend using the beefiest sawblade you have to do this as the width of the cut will be the thickness of the inlay

Using the rolling mill if you have one or brute strength and your hammer, reduce the thickness of a strip of silver sheet until it just fits into the gap with a bit of a push - you don't really want it lose so much that it drops straight out, as it can be a bit frustrating when you're trying to do multiples. Either use your riveting hammer







or the parallel pliers








to wedge your strips into the cuts until it looks like this








If you have a drawplate, make up some chenier and some round wire in sizes to tightly fit the drilled holes. If you don't have a drawplate, it might be easier to do this the other way around, i.e. design your pattern/make your holes according to the sizes of wire that you have.

Cut the wire/chenier as short as you can so that there is enough standing proud of the metal surface but not too high as you will have to file down to the metal surface when soldered.







Apply a ton of solder







and sweat solder. Flip the piece over to see that the solder has come through to the other side and if not, reapply flux and reheat.








Cut out the circle








Once the circle is cut out, it just needs cleaning up.








File until all the surface solder is removed and you are back to the original metal. Then play around with finishes. Buffed to a satin finish








Gentle heat patina








Stronger heat patina







Dipped very briefly in cold LoS

If wished, it can now be carefully domed in a doming block. You may have to resolder or add additional solder and re-file if shaping, as sometimes the solder can split away slightly if overstressed

The piece is now ready for finishing and polishing.

Nicola Perkins

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