Wednesday, 6 May 2015

May 6

DixSterling Does Copper – Cuffs, To Be Exact

I made a copper cuff some time ago and decided to do another, slightly narrower version on Monday. The process is shown below.

Step 1 - Cut a strip, one inch wide, from 22 gauge copper sheet.

Only tricky bit of this was that the throat of my jeweler's saw is not deep enough so I had to cut half the length, then start again from the other end.

I'm getting better with controlling the saw. The two cuts followed the line and actually met! I guess that's the way bridge builders feel when the two sides of a project come together as they should ;-)

Step 2 - Add some texture: brass hammer comes into play

The blue item top left is the business end of a large chisel. I used it to create that diamond pattern on the strip. As a contrast, I hammered the large bolts screw pattern into the copper at the other end.

There are all kinds of found objects one can use for texturing metal this way. I find lots of items on my husband's work bench: nails, screwdrivers, punches, etc.

Step 3 - Shape the bracelet

A steel bracelet mandrel is a pretty hefty investment but there are other options. I have seen a cut off baseball bat recommended. In my case, when an old rolling pin developed a problem (one handle kept popping out in mid-crust), I took it out to the shop. It serve remarkably well as a mandrel so I can use my rawhide hammer to shape bracelets on it. The functional handle also lets me mount it in one of the convenient holes in the face of my bench.

Step 4 - Time for color

Once all that was done, It was time for the patination process. First, I took soap, hot water and a plastic scrubbie to scour the metal. It has to be utterly free of grease. Next, I used the torch to heat the piece and then dropped it into an old cooking pot filled with vegetable material (pine needles, bits of dried cedar, cones) and put the lid on. It's great fun as the colors you get from this process are never quite the same. The larger bracelet shown developed many sades of red and gold. The narrower one runs more to reds and purples. Which do you like best?