Tag Archives: copper

Jewelry Showcase: Summer Earrings

These past few months have been a lot of fun. Almost my whole family has summer birthdays so I’ve been making gifts and other new jewelry. The heat in my garage studio is intense, but it can’t keep me away from the metal and the torch.

Since there are many pieces to show, the galleries can be themed. Here are the earrings!

New Jewelry: Month of May

Here’s a selection of the new jewelry I designed and crafted over the past month. I used to use a lot more copper but shifted at some point towards using mostly silver. Lately I’ve been bringing back the copper and I love it! It brings a lot of warmth to the jewelry and it’s a really fun metal to work with.

Most of these are available in my Etsy shop.

Jeweler’s Saw Basics Demo Video

youtube_jewelers_saw_basics_stillframeToday I recorded a video to demonstrate the basics of using a jeweler’s saw. I love teaching skills to others, but making a video has always felt so daunting. Once I got started filming it was way smoother than I expected and actually even fun! Yet another example of the benefits of overcoming fears and just going for it!

Organic Shapes Necklace in Copper and Silver

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Today I made a necklace and I let the metal guide me. The silver was a sharp piece with a few circles cut from its sides. I rounded its spikes and edges, then found a piece of copper with a similar vibe and did the same. A brushed surface finishes it off and adds to the natural, organic feeling.

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The patina was reluctant to brush away from the metal, leaving it looking dark and extra aged. I love how many things these shapes can look like. Every time I look there’s something new hidden in the silhouette.

Fun Copper Finishing With Sulfur

Copper is a fun metal to work with. It’s soft after heating, but can be hardened to be pretty resilient. I love hearing the sound difference between hitting soft and hard copper. Its natural color has a wonderful warmth, but the variety of finishes that come from it are amazing.

There are many ways to give copper a great patina and here I’ll show the most common: heat and sulfur. Sulfur gives copper a beautiful black finish that is especially great for bringing out detail. This is done by polishing or brushing off the surface darkness, leaving all details and crevices in the metal dark for contrast.

hammer_resting_on_copper_scaleHere I’m starting with some leftover scale cutouts from a large chainmaille collar project I made for Metal Arts / Jewelry I. Each of the scale pieces was sawed by hand from a large sheet of copper.

chainmail_sculpture_collar_scales_copper_nickel_steelThe chainmaille is all stainless steel, and most of the scales are nickel silver with copper to accent. Every scale got two holes drilled in, then the copper was given a texture and patina, and all were slightly domed in a dapping block.

copper_scale_hammer_textureHere is a perfect example of why it’s always good to keep hammer faces polished and nice. That line in every hammer blow is a little scratch on my hammer. It’s hard to notice until the light hits it and I had already done most of the hammering so I kept going.

copper_scales_fire_smith_torchTime for some fire! Heat can give copper a huge range of beautiful colors for a finish. I’m only showing one look here, but heat finishing can vary greatly.

copper_scales_firescale_redWhen heated to red-hot and let cool, a clean piece of copper will get a sweet matte red coating.

copper_scale_brushing_brass_brsuhAfter pickling (a bath in mild acid) to clean the metal, I scrub it with a brass brush.

copper_scale_half_brushedThe brass brush gives a bright look to the copper. So clean!

liver_of_sulfur_midas_patinaTime to make a sulfur solution. The can is full of varying sized yellow mineral chunks.

copper_scale_fresh_sulfur_patinaWhen heated, the sulfur makes quick work of the aging process! Even cold it doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

copper_scale_patina_final_darkThe top half was scrubbed with a green scour pad and the bottom polished with a cotton wheel and mild compound. In the scale collar I used the scoured style, my favorite since it gives a rougher antique quality.

I really have fun playing with patinas and making samples. By the way, it is the copper in sterling silver that causes it to tarnish over time. This sulfur will do the same to sterling silver and I use it all the time to do so. Pure (i.e. fine) silver will not tarnish like sterling, but its softness means it needs things like copper alloyed with it for strength.

If you have any questions about the process feel free to ask!