This is a basic skill in metalworking that took me a while to understand. I read about it in books and articles about metalworking and did not get the point. I mean, why not just get on with whatever needed to be done? In a parallel track, I would see some metal jewelry made by others and wonder – how in the world did they do that? I remember seeing a project in Lapidary Journal for a pair of earrings. One of the steps involved folding the metal. I wondered, unless it was very thin metal, how would you fold metal. Metal is hard.
It wasn’t until I actually felt a piece of annealed metal in my own hands that I understood, the two parallel tracks came together and I realized what an incredibly useful technique it was. A piece of hard metal that I could not bend with my bare hands, once annealed is pliable – for a while. As you continue to work the metal, it begins to harden. Depending on what you are doing, you can anneal it again. I learned annealing best by doing it with an experienced person sitting beside me. Basically, you are looking for a color change that you achieve by carefully heating the metal. Then you immediately quench it in water. It helped me to have someone tell me when I heated the metal to the right color. Once I saw the color, I then knew what to look for. I have also seen Internet articles and videos demonstrating the technique. It’s nice when the pieces come together.