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The Itsy Bitsy Spider

October is the month of all things spooky, like creepy crawlies and challenging metalworks.

When I came across, Argentium Guild Member, Melissa Skarsten's Spider in Argentium with opaque Ruby, it was clear I HAD to know more.

Melissa Skarsten works out of her home studio in Park City, Utah. She travels locally to teach as a Certified Argentium Instructor and has been working in Argentium since 2009. I asked her about the inspiration behind the spider in the orchid box.

"The inspiration for my orchid curiosity box was the duality you find in nature. I was remembering, as a child, picking this beautiful flower and when I smelled it, I was shocked to see a scary spider hiding under the petals of the flower! My spider creates the same experience when you lift the orchid adorned lid of the box."

Melissa made the eight legs by first annealing then cutting and balling the ends of Argentium wire. She then applied flux and rolled the legs in silver filings. After applying heat, the filings fused to the legs giving them the life-like texture she was after.

"The superior fusing properties of Argentium is what allowed me to make the texture I wanted on this spider.” For the rest of the spider, she balled Argentium to make the head and body, and cut a prong / bezel setting from Argentium sheet. After fusing the setting together and adding pinchers to the head, Melissa repeated the fused filing technique on the body.

So how did Melissa manage to get all eight legs attached at one time? She used soldering clay to position all the legs perfectly in place making the task quick, easy, and tear free.

To add an extra point of interest, Melissa set an opaque ruby in Argentium, and mixed liver of sulphur in hot water to achieve the deep patina finish, creating the delicate spider that now resides in one of her curiosity boxes as is part of a collection of conceptual work she has been working on for a number of years.

“I needed to solder on eight tiny legs so close together that soldering one leg at a time would mean desoldering each previous leg. Legs would be flying everywhere, and I’d be left crying!”

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