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How to NOT Dent Your Texture Plate!

Posted by Roberta Pihl on

See that dent in this mushroom plate? Let's talk about weight distribution and compression. See if I can't help y'all avoid this k?
It's been noted that you should only use a full sheet of metal covering the whole plate when you're rolling or pressing. That's not entirely untrue: that will prevent this from happening altogether and it definitely saves the artist who made it from having to replace it. But I will tell you with absolute confidence that this happening is 100% user error - and there's no shame in that! Gotta learn somehow! ❤
But what if you are pressing wire or only have a small piece? Or you only want to impress a part of the plate? Silver is expensive right now - well, it's always expensive... - and a lot of people only want to use small pieces, or texture wire for bangles.
The first thing you need to understand is weight distribution. The very first thing that the pressure from your mill or press will touch is what will determine the distribution of weight. The wider that piece is, the more that weight can be distributed across the whole thing. (Exhibit A) This makes it harder to roll because it needs more pressure to spread across the whole sheet - and remember, your metal has to have someplace to go. When down is no longer an option, it goes out. In the case of a rolling mill your metal is being stretched towards you as well - like rolling dough for pasta or pie. Whichever way the rolling pin goes is the direction the dough will spread. Same concept applies.
This is where people start having problems....
In contrast, a thinner or smaller piece of metal being compressed will not have as far to go. And while these plates are made of steel, steel is still able to be manipulated. The distribution of the pressure being applied can only spread so far out, and what ultimately happens is that it is forced more downwards. If the pressure is too great, the steel WILL GIVE, and you will end up sinking the design on the plate into itself.
The solution? When you're rolling something much thinner or smaller, ease up on the pressure. This is going to take some practice. and it's always best to start with less pressure and then add to it to determine the plate's limitations. The key to consistency is finding out about how far in you can compress the metal by closing the rollers on the final pass and remembering that. You still have to gauge your initial depth every time you switch texture plates, metal types and metal thickness, but the amount of pressure you have to apply will vary depending on the amount of metal and shape you are trying to impress.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the texture plates with the finer details are going to be easier to ruin by over pressing. Heavy and thicker designs will have more backing to help prevent the design from sinking into itself (again, still weight distribution...) But you have to be careful with texture plates that have those very fine lines... there's not enough metal in those details to help it push back.
I hope this helps some of you!
 

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