Friday, February 24, 2012

Jet of the Day 2/24/12 - Willow Creek Jewelry

Lately, I’ve really become interested in metal, especially copper and everything that can be done with it. I love to manipulate it, fold it, hammer it and poke holes in it. But, I particularly like to take a torch to it. Copper is a warm metal that can achieve gorgeous patinas and it’s also affordable; if you mess something up, it doesn't hit the wallet too bad.

Copper, like other metals, will harden when worked which leads to difficulty in manipulation. This is where the annealing process comes in handy. Annealing results in malleability and reduces the internal stress on the metal, allowing you to move and bend your piece without it becoming brittle.

Hammered Copper Fold Formed Pendant - HGWjewelrydesigns

• Cut your desired shape from copper sheet or you can wait until the end of the creative process and cut the shape from the completed sheet. To begin with you might want to try a 26g or24g thickness.

Autumn Maple Leaf Copper Dish - Rough Magic Creations
• Place your metal on a fire safe work surface, such as a fire brick. Using your torch, heat your metal slowly and evenly; move the flame over the metal in an even fashion. Heat the metal until the entire piece reaches a cherry red color. The cherry red color indicates that the metal has reached the proper annealing temperature. You can also watch the color or your flame as it will turn an orange-red at the same time the copper becomes cherry red. You may find it helpful to dim the lights in order to see the metal
change color.

• After the metal reaches the correct temperature, remove the flame and turn off the torch. Using metal pliers or tongs, quench the metal in water. You can also quench directly into a pickle bath; always use caution when using a pickle bath as not to splash any chemical. If using a pickle bath, use only copper tongs as other metals will contaminate your pickle. The pickle cleans off the fire scale; however, some people prefer this rustic look and choose to leave it or maybe sand back a small portion. After a pickle bath you can also go back with your torch and create some beautiful flame patinas.

• Rinse and dry the annealed metal.

Aspen - Fold Formed Copper Earrings - Willow Creek Jewelry
• Now you’re ready for the fun part. At this point you can fold, hammer, pinch and contort. After folding, use a dull straight edge to open your metal up (I use an oyster shucking knife) When the metal becomes hard again, you simply repeat the annealing process and continue with your creativity.

Mixed Metal Copper and Silver Earrings - Eleven13

• Once you’re happy with your creation you can sand any sharp edges, work harden or toss it in your tumbler.

I find this process to be very relaxing and stress relieving. Sometimes, hours will pass without me realizing it. I hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do.

Thank you for reading and happy creating!
Scroll - Hammered Copper Earrings - Willow Creek Jewelry


MadeByTammy said...

I just love the look of rustic copper! Fantastic info and jewelry! Thanks for sharing.

capitalcitycrafts said...

Great information about working with copper, thanks!

DG Jewelry Designs said...

Wonderful and informative. Thanks, Wendy, for this information.

Bob J24-7 said...

Thanks for posting this info! I've been wondering how the fire patinas are done ... you have really great copper jewelry in your shop!

Tracy said...

So wonderful! I've been wanting to try annealing for quite some time. I might just hop out today and crap some copper sheet!

Your designs are inspiring! Gorgeous!

SendingLoveGallery said...

great info! makes me want to try it!
beautiful creations, too~

TheSilverBear said...

This is a great blog, Wendy. I'm going to buy me some copper & see what comes out!

Beadsme said...

Great post, think we need some copper at work to combat all the stress in the office. Can you just imagine tools spread over the office and now and then hearing someone banging away LOL.

WanderingJewel said...

Great post! I like working with copper as well.

Erika Price said...

Great post, Wendy - love your work!

Your Daily Jewels said...

I have the highest respect for copper artists such as yourself. Gorgeous work, great blog and your shop is a true treat to visit!