First Snow of the Season

View from my downstairs door.

View from my downstairs door.

This is the most snow accumulation I’ve seen in the four years I’ve lived here.   And it continues to snow off and on and will do so through the day.  They’re expecting another three inches which will cap us at a foot!

And three more inches are expected today.

And three more inches are expected today.

I was prepared except for one major thing.  The battery on my Bose speaker attached to my computer (and Spotify) is kaput, and I do not have music.  Why anyone constructs an electronic devise that doesn’t have an on-off switch IN ADDITION TO THE REMOTE is beyond me.   Why I bought such a product is simple:  I didn’t know….until now…and I’m not happy.

But the snow is entertainment in and of itself.  Also Lucy and The Pumpkin are both mesmerized by the wall of white at the back door.  So I’ll queue up some movies and make some jewelry, drink hot cocoa and nap a lot.  Not a bad gig.

And oh yeah.  There’s FOOTBALL!!!!!

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Christmas Jewelry Pendant Project

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Click to Enlarge

Copper can be either rough and tumble, bright and flashy, or both at once.  That’s what I went for in this piece…both.

I chose as many metals as I had could find laying around. Most of the beads are recycled from old junk jewelry.  Stark contrast between the shiny and dull was my goal.  I took my inspiration and the instructions from Mary’s book Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet.  If you’re interested in this art form, you need this book!

Fun to make.  Fun to share.  Merry Christmas!

 

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Annealing Copper

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Click to Enlarge

The copper I use is 24 gauge, and it is not-quite-dead-yet soft.  Hobby Lobby sells metal in their model kit department.  With a coupon it is reasonable, and you can get nice rods, planks, and sheets in both copper and brass.  None of it, to my knowledge, is coated.  I’m still looking for bronze, but coloring metal with heat or paint and metal stain is an alternative to buying metals just for their appearance.

I use a Bernzomatic Self-Igniting Propane Torch.  With a little practice, the fear will dissipate and you’ll eventually get comfortable about leaving it in the house overnight.  Go for the clearly visible “V” in the flame for the hottest area, and you’ll be drawing beads on your wire in no time.  Annealing (heating) makes the metal softer and more pliable if you cool it quickly by dropping it in water after getting that glow.  It can be hardened by hammering and then annealed again. With copper, the more you go back and forth from soft to hard to soft, the redder it gets.  I haven’t gotten to the point where the metal snaps, but just the residue in my brain from high school science class tells me that there must be a point that the metal can’t take the strain.

I went for something lighter and brighter with this piece.  I soaked it in gel flux before annealing it after it was completed, and hardened it with a rubber hammer.  It’s super shiny and fun.

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Why Copper Jewelry?

A box that actually opens. Click to Enlarge

A box that actually opens. Click to Enlarge

I’ve gotten a few emails from old friends who are interested in my jewelry journey so I thought I would answer some of their questions in my posts.  What got me started making jewelry?  The short answer is:  I don’t know.  But I think it’s because I live in an artsy area of the country and I see more handmade jewelry that anything that might come from “where the kiss begins at Kay.” Also, I took Mary Hettmansperger’s class almost as a lark and a good reason to get out of town for a week.  This class alone had a profound effect on my interest in this art form.

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Click to Enlarge

Next:  It’s not THAT expensive to start, and I recommend just getting a basic jewelry tool kit, a butane torch, and some copper and brass, both 24 gauge.  You don’t need a disc cutter right away; you can cut a circle with some good lightweight snips.

A small vice is welcome but not necessary.  A texture hammer is a plus but a ball-peen hammer is a must.

Craftsy has classes, and there are books everywhere.  Just dive in.  It’s pretty clear from my posts that each piece gets better and easier to make.  My best advice:  just do it!

Good Stuff!

Good Stuff!

Almost every day I learn something new. Yesterday was about a product that will protect my wire by coating my tools.  I set aside a few tools specifically for wiring and coated them with guarded expectations.  But I am happy to report that this product works and works well. No more scratched wire!!!  I’ll try to share these revelations as I encounter them.

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Bee on Copper

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Click to Enlarge

There’s so much more to learn about this art form, and I am determined to explore as much of it as I can through the winter.  I’m sure I’ll be back in the garden come summer, but for now, staying indoors is not so bad.

Nail polish works great on metal, and now that there is no end to nail polish color, buying those small bottles is an inexpensive way to add to your color options.  The clear coat works well too.

However, the red in this piece is simply what happens when copper is heated to “glowing” and then immersed in water immediately.

 

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Owl Eye Jewelry

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Click to Enlarge

Try saying that five times real fast.  Anyhow….

I wanted to try something different.  Mary wore a stunning piece to class one day that mesmerized me.  I’m sure it’s in one of her books.  She used a disc cutter to fashion the perfect place for an eye, and while I’m not sure whose eye it was, it was hard to look away.  I had a great photo of an owl and one of his eyes was much more open than the other and looked like the perfect fit for this piece.  It’s covered in mica, a mineral that comes in sheets and can be left alone or split for either a clear or darkened view. I hope I made this light enough because this owl eye is filled with owl attitude.

I also tried to change things up with a bit more bling and detail on the connections.  The back piece is embossed aluminum and the eye is glued to copper with the mica being held in place with eyelets.  The bar on top is wired with copper seed beads.  Those rod-looking connections are actually elongated handmade brass wire hoops.

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Medical, Magical, Mystical Copper

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Click to Enlarge

If you Google copper you’ll find it has purported medical, magical, and mystical powers.  Wiki thinks so highly of copper I’m not sure if I believe all of it, even with the 130 references. Being a nurse, however, I am aware of the necessity of having the right minerals in your diet.  I once read about a condition wherein if your body is low on certain minerals, you’ll be inclined to eat dirt.  Eewe.

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Well, if copper really is that good for you, I should be in great shape because I’ve been handling it for almost three weeks straight. Aside from the trace amounts I am absorbing through my skin, and which will eventually make it into my bloodstream, tonight I got a big fat sliver of it in my finger.  Not comfortable, and it took awhile to get it out.

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Rainy Days and Jewelry

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Unlike the summer of no rain (literally three months without), we’re now getting that gloomy, redolent, rainy weather I crave. What is better than a pajama day in the studio creating? The cats love to watch me work.

I’ve learned much in the past few weeks experimenting with copper, snips and my torch. Clearly I gravitate toward the knobbly look. There’s no question that my pieces are handmade, and my goal is not to get my creations looking more professionally made. On the contrary, it’s the unusual and whimsical that I’m trying to capture.

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Click to Enlarge

With all the new tools, patinas, textures, findings, connectors, charms, and chains, there is no end to this.  And that suits me just fine.

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First Sale! …sort of.

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click to enlarge

The first time I bought some copper I met one of the owners who seemed moderately interested in what I was using it for.  Or maybe I simply started a conversation, which I frequently do just to make for a more pleasant day.  So today, when I revisited his shop to replenish my copper stash, I brought some of my finished pieces with me.

I was very surprised by his response.  He thought his wife would go crazy over this type of jewelry and offered to barter copper for jewelry.  I gave him his choice of what I’d brought along and he chose one of my earlier pieces (like two weeks earlier) to swap.  I came home with enough copper to last me through the winter.  I was thrilled, and I think he was pretty happy too.

It’s been awhile since I sold a piece of art.  While most people like watercolors, few are interested in buying them, even when they’re framed.  My painting classes generate some interest, but not enough to keep me motivated.  Today was significant because this was the first person, besides Beth, to see my metalwork close up.

Tonight I decided to do something different.  I’ve completed about 20 pieces from copper and felt the need to start chipping away at my massive collection of reclaimed jewelry pieces, stones, beads, bones, antlers, and the like.  This is my first try:  wood, stone, bone and copper.  That’s a hand-carved bone turtle I found in the bead shop in Asheville.  The rod is just copper wire I pounded until it became rock hard.  This piece looks great over a black sweater.

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Stargazing Rabbit, Copper Art Jewelry

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Click to Enlarge

This piece posed one of my biggest challenges.  But my friend Beth had the solution which, simply put, was to punch two holes instead of one.  Wire wrapping dominated the project, and I wound up making two sets of these wires.  I got so frustrated with the first set, I destroyed them in a crafting meltdown.  One thing I learned was that I need glasses when wrapping.  It’s close-up work and requires two tools in two hands at once.  Hum…  But I like the effect.

The backgrounds are both embossed with normal scrapbooking embossing powders and then sealed.  Champagne for the top and black and white mix for the bottom.  I used two different texture stamps.  I tried enameling in class but found that enameling cracks when the metal is bent.  I’ll stick to this embossing method until I get more experience.

The rabbit is another charm from the cross stitch stash, and it appears I won’t be running out of these any time soon.  Perhaps I’m photographing these too closely (on my macro setting) so that you can see the detail.  But in fact, they look much better hanging around my neck.

I’ve worn two of my creations out, and each time I received multiple compliments, comments, and questions about where I got them…from strangers!  I love being able to say:  “I made this!”

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