A rolling mill is an essential part of any serious jewelry-making studio, but once you finally make that big purchase (hyperlink to previous post here), it can be hard to know where to start. It’s such a versatile piece of equipment that it can actually be overwhelming to have all those possibilities at your fingertips. We’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help get you started with your new piece of jewelry-making equipment.
If you get too hasty or aggressive with your roller, you could do permanent damage to your metals. You want to roll your metals gradually so as not to add too much pressure that will cause them to crack the next time you anneal them. The rollers should be tight enough so that there is resistance when you roll, but not so over-tightened that you have to put your entire strength behind each turn.
If you’re worried about messing this part up, start with cheaper scrap materials that you’re not concerned about damaging. After a few times through, you’re likely to have found the magic touch your rolling mill needs.
Use Dry Metal
Damp metal will leave marks on your rollers and put them at risk for pitting, so you want to make sure your metal is totally dry. It’s not the most inspiring tip, we know, but it’s a simple way to keep your rolling mill well maintained from the very beginning.
Play With Textures
Imprinting patterns is one of the easiest and most common uses for the rolling mill. If you pair your rolling mill purchase with a few pattern plates, you can start getting inspired but rolling out detailed patterns. Again, be sure not to over-tighten your rollers so that you don’t hurt your metals or pattern plates.
Pre-made pattern plates are convenient, but they aren’t the only way to create textures on your metals. You can imprint a piece of cut paper, a printed picture, or even something as common as a paper towel into your metals. This works especially well with copper, as it’s so easy to run through the mill.
Our biggest piece of advice is to dive right in and try something. If you expect the first thing to come out of those rollers to be awe-inspiring, you’ll never get started. Feed different scrap sheets and discs you have laying around through the mill. Play with textures as much as you can. Trying out new things with no fear and no expectations is the best way to get in touch with the newest member of your jewelry-making family.