Saturday, 10 April 2010

Adventures in Metalsmithing

The copper cuff in the previous post was a great learning experience and the tools were calling, but I wanted to try something different, learn something new.
I've used my jeweler's saw for cutting wire and jump rings, but have never actually cut a pattern with it.  I knew the basics but putting it into practice was interesting.  I drew the pattern on a piece of copper with a permanent marker, put the blade in the saw tightly enough that it twanged and then tried to put the wooden cutting block on my kitchen island overhang with a little vice.  The island was too thick for the vice, so I ended up gripping it to the kitchen table.  My table wears many hats.  When I took the picture, since I only had two hands, I had to let go of the saw to hold the camera and it swung to the left, but I was actually sawing straight up and down and straight forward.  
I thought it was a pretty good job!
The hole at the top was either lucky or smart, whichever way you want to look at it.  This piece of copper was the one I had out and cut the bangle from and then did my designs on and it was sitting on my anvil.  I had also tried whacking it with a nail to see if it made a hole, and it did.  When I cut the piece off for the leaf, I arranged the pattern around the hole, because I am basically lazy.  
The filing took a little extra time and having done it, I would definitely decrease the number of points on a leaf if I do another one.  Speaking of lazy.  But I got all the sharp edges filed down.  Then I annealed it with my butane torch and firebricks on the kitchen island, pickled it and scrubbed it clean with steel wool and had some fun putting lines on the leaf with wire and a scribe and then bent it in half lengthwise and hammered both sides.  It needed annealed again and pickled, and then I opened it up and did some fancy folds and twists.
It didn't look bad without a patina, but the copper chain I have is antiqued, so I got out my bottle of Liver Of Sulphur.  Because it's such incredibly stinky stuff, my usual method is to get my bottle of really hot water and plastic spoon ready, shake a pea-sized lump into my hand and dump it in the bottle as soon as I get outside.  It sits on my barbeque on the outside porch while I dip into it and the cold water bath.  Then I just let it sit there until the water turns clear and dump it in the bushes. 
It took me a year to get Liver Of Sulphur because all of the American suppliers had premixed LOS and it was considered dangerous goods to ship.  None of the Canadian suppliers I tried had it, until I finally found the powdered form at Lacy Tools in Toronto.  It would probably last me for years, but today, when I took the bottle out of the sealed plastic bag, I decided to give it a good shake to break down some of the bigger lumps.  Either the bottle was weak or I've been eating my Wheaties, because the bottom broke and glass and liver of sulphur flew all over the kitchen.  Of course Dewey thought it might be edible because it was stinky, so it was a flurry of holding dogs, yelling at dogs to stay and trying to clean up the stuff before the dogs realized that they never listen to me anyway.  Heaven only knows how long my kitchen is going to smell like rotten eggs.  And the stuff I rescued and repacked in a vitamin bottle (double bagged) is full of dog hairs.  It might make a very interesting patina - add a pinch of Jack Russell to your mix. 
Got the leaf done, though, and the adventure continues.


  1. The leaf is beautiful. What patience to file all those edges, but so worth it.

  2. You do such nice work! Thank you for your comment on wanting to join my BlogRoll, I will be glad to add you to it.
    We're all in this together,

  3. I really enjoyed this blog post about the effort it took to make the gorgeous copper leaf.

    BTW, Thanks for your comment on my post today.

  4. The leaf is beautiful but I really cracked up at the dog story. How do you convince them that you don't need their help, thank you.