Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Should Newly Made Copper Bracelets Be Aged?

As promised in my previous post, I made variations of the copper bangle bracelet (directions for first bracelet from Contemporary Copper Jewelry)and photographed the newly made bracelets. Copper naturally tarnishes
easily giving an aged look, but not a dark color for quite some time. To keep the first bracelet relatively shiny, to remove the tarnish I rubbed it
with #0000 steel wool and an occasional rub with a polishing cloth.

Liver of sulfur is used to age copper.
After reading several articles about aging copper bracelets in liver of sulfur, I decided to use photographs to compare how each bracelet looked before and after aging. The bracelets were dipped in warm liver of sulfur solution only a minute or so until they turned black. After removing from the solution, and rinsing in water, I dried them thoroughly. Steel wool and a polishing cloth were used to polish and bring out the highlights.

Original Copper Pipe Bangle Bracelet
Original Copper Pipe Bangle Bracelet
several weeks old polished with steel wool and polishing cloth

Copper Swirl Top Bangle Bracelet not aged
Copper Swirl Top Bracelet Not Aged

Copper Swirl Top Bangle Bracelet Aged

Copper Swirl Top Bracelet Aged
Handcrafted Copper Medallion Bangle Bracelet
Handcrafted Copper Medallion Bangle Bracelet
Not Aged
Hancrafted Copper Medallion Bangle Bracelet Aged

Handcrafted Copper Medallion Bangle Bracelet Aged
Copper Bangle Bracelet
Copper Wire Wrapped Bangle Bracelet Not Aged
Copper Bangle Bracelet Aged
Copper Wire Wrapped Bangle Bracelet Aged
Which bracelet do you think is most attractive? Aged or not aged? My preference has changed to preferring the aged bracelets. These bracelets can be found on our website

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Copper Bracelets

After making the copper bracelet on the right from recycled water pipe, I decided to purchase copper tubing and try to perfect my technique. Two sizes of copper tubing were available-one fourth inch outside diameter and on fourth inch inner diameter. Since both were inexpensive, I purchased both sizes.

To make a variation, the smaller tube was selected for the new bracelet. The smaller tubing was much easier to bend around the bracelet mandrel than the recycled tubing probably due to the thinner tube wall. The thinner wall has not affected the sturdiness of the bracet. To give variety, I wrapped the extending wire before making the swirls. This bracelet is definitely better looking and will be a welcome addition to my grand daughters' copper jewelry collections.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recycling Copper Pipe For Jewelry

We replaced copper pipe under our sink. I saved the two eighteen inch lengths we removed in hopes of making copper jewelry. You can imagine my delight upon reading Sharilyn Miller's new book Contemporary Copper Jewelry to see directions for a copper bangle bracelet using copper pipe. The old dark dingy copper pipe was polished to a gleaming shine with very fine steel wool according to the directions. Using the pipe cutter was a new experience, but not very difficult. Bending the pipe around the bracelet mandrel took patience. An advantage to using the old pipe was the bracelet did not have to be textured or distressed. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the bracelet was completed. New pipe which I purchased for another bracelet was not as difficult to bend around the mandrel. I am now busy trying to develope variations to the design. This book is an excellent reference and resource with detailed easy to follow directions. This is one time being a pack rat paid off!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to Make a Hand Tool Holder For Jewelry Tools

                                               Tool Holder Without Tools

                                              Tool Holder With Tools

I have been plagued with the problem of finding tools when I begin a project. I ramble through my tool box trying to find a certain tool. Now I believe I have solved the problem.

Materials needed:
Safety Glasses
6" x 2" length negotiable piece wood
Scrap wood
Drill or drill press
3/16, 1/4, 1/2 inch drill bits
Sharpie pen
tomato paste can optional
small metal ruler for mounting

A holder for jewelry tools as pliers, small cutters, pin vises, crimpers, files, and sharpie will make your work bench much neater and assist quickly finding the right.

Inventory the tools you have in each category. It might be feasible to make a holder for each group of tools. Cutters will stay sharper if the cutting edge is not in contact or jostled against other tools.

Using calipers, check the widest part of the end of the tool that will be inserted in the holder. Most jewelry tool handles measure 1/4" and 1/2". Files handle diameters are much smaller. Hold two tools upright on the board and decide how far apart to place them, keeping in mind the different sizes of the handles.

Organize groups of tools and decide on the overall length of wood needed for all the tools or groups of tools. Insert the drill bit in the drill or drill press. Make two practice holes in a scrap to see how the pliers fit, checking the width and depth of the holes. Set the drill press to the needed depth or mark the depth on the drill bit by placing a bit of tape or a sharpie mark on the bit. Measure the spread of the handles. Use an average spread number since a slight amount of tension will help the tools stand upright. Draw two parallel lines on the board about 3/4 to 1 inch from each edge placing an X mark for the placement of each hole.

Files can be stored in a wooden tool holder made with 3/16" holes or together in a small tomato paste can. Fasten the can to a wooden base to prevent frequently tipping. Place a hole in the bottom of the can and place a screw through the bottom of the can into the wood to prevent tipping.

Sharpies and pin vise will fit in 1/2" holes. These can be grouped along with files and a scribe. You can probably find many more tools to include in the holder.

After using the holder, I have decided that tool holders should be fairly short in length to be able to pull the group forward that you are currently using near the work area. Infrequently used tools can be pushed to the back of the work table and pulled forward as needed. As you can see from the photographs, the holder is quite long. Group pliers together, cutters together, crimpers together, etc. for more efficiency.

The days of rambling through a container or drawer for a tool are over. Organization improves efficiency, takes less time, and helps you remember tools you had forgotten you had.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How To Make A Jewelry Jig- Example Earwire Jig

Jigs are very easy to make, if you have wood, a saw and a drill. Jigs make duplicating a wire design very easy. I prefer the home made variety jig since the pegs are stationery and do not wobble when bending the wire.

Materials needed:
4"x4"x2"thick piece wood
1/8 x 1" brad nails
1/4" diameter wooden dowel
20 gauge practice wire
1/4" drill bit
wooden or rubber mallet
anvil or pounding block
graph paper
file or burr cup
round nose pliers
flush cutters
sharpie pen

To begin, find a piece of scrap lumber at least 4"x4"x2" thick. A thinner piece of lumber can be used, but the 2" thickness gives more weight and stability to the jig. This size should be large enough to make several jigs on the same wood block.

Draw the design on graph paper with a soft pencil.
Mark with dots the places to put brads or dowels(for large curves) for bending.
Turn the paper over on the wood block and draw over the design. This will make a light tracing. Another method to duplicate the design (if you have a prototype) is to trace around the piece on the wood block.

We are going to make an earwire jig as an example.
To place the dowel, drill with a 1/4" bit 1/2" into the wood block. Set a drill press to this depth or mark this depth with tape on the drill bit. Cut the dowel piece 1 1/4 -1 1/2 inch in length. Sand or shave off the edges slightly on one end. Insert the shaved end of the dowel into the hole and use the mallet to wedge it tightly into the wood block.

Mark a cross on the top of the dowel to divide it into four equal parts. (Some designs might use a cross marked on the wood block.) At the 3 o'clock position 3/16" away from the dowel, mark a dot (position 1). At the 6 o'clock position 7/16" away from the dowel, mark a dot (position 2). 5/16" below the last dot and in a parallel line adjacent to Position 2, mark with a dot (position 3). Position 3 gives a slight bend in the end of the ear wire. The tops of the brad nails should be filed or ground to make removing articles form the jig easy. Drive the brad nails in 1/4" at each position. For other designs, smaller dowels can be used with matching diameter drill bits.

To conserve expensive wire when making an earwire or any prototype, mark 20 gauge practice wire with sharpie in 1 inch increments. With round nose pliers make a loop large enough to fit the brad at position 1. Put loop over brad at position 1 with the loop opening toward the dowel, bend around dowel, then bend between dowel and brad at position 2, then bend to position 3. Cut the wire at position 3. Remove earwire or prototype from jig.

To flatten the earwire or prototype, place on an anvil or pounding block, hitting it several times with a rubber mallet. This hardens the metal making it brittle. Never pound where wires cross since the wires might break. Smooth the ends of the earwires with a file or burr cup.

Determine from the sharpie marks the length of wire used. Mark a line the length plus about 1/4" on the wood block. This will facilitate measuring wire for future projects.

Jigs can be made to make earwires with beads, a variety of shapes or longer tails. With imagination the possibilities for duplicating jewelry designs pieces made by bending wire are endless.
Although the finished jig looks rough, it works very well.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

How To Improve Your Appearance With Jewelry-Selecting Earrings

Spring is here with all nature beginning anew. This is the time for you to evaluate and rejuvenate your wardrobe and coordinate your jewelry. Never discard jewelry as you do clothing. Styles come, go, but eventually return. Select jewelry styles that flatter you even if they are not the current fashion fad. The next season will probably have a fashion fad that is flattering to you.

1. Decide how much you wish to spend. Handmade gemstone jewelry made with genuine stones and metals cost very little more than good costume jewelry. The purpose of jewelry is to attract the eye to your face which you want people to recognize and remember. You want to create a unique impression by attracting the eye to your face.

2. Select colors of stones and metals that are flattering to your skin tone, eye color and hair color. A good mirror available near a window with daylight, and an honest friend are essential for evaluating your face. Have pieces of warm and cool colored metal jewelry available. Decide if the warm color of gold, brass, or copper is more flattering than the cool color of white gold, silver, or pewter. Determine which colors flatter your skin tone, hair color and eye color. Choose the color group that gives you pizzazz.

3. What outfits -casual, dressy, formal- with accompanying jewelry will you wear the most? Shiny metals are casual, but burnished metals more dressy. Silver is more informal. Gemstones and pearls mix with any metal color.

4. To assemble your jewelry wardrobe, start with earrings. To decide the most flattering style of earring for you, you must first determine your face shape.
Pull your hair back completely from your face with a headband or scarf. Look straight into your reflection in a mirror or take a picture looking straight into the camera. Follow the shape created by your hairline and jaw line to determine the shape of your face- oval, round, rectangle/square, heart. If you have printed a picture, take a magic marker and trace around your hairline and jaw line. Knowing your face shape will help you select a flattering hairstyle as well as flattering jewelry. Correctly shaped earrings can help you create the illusion of a perfectly shaped face.

5. General rules for face shapes:
Oval faces are the most “perfect” face shape. All hairstyles and earring shapes are attractive on this shaped face. All other face shapes try to create the illusion of an oval shape by manipulating hairstyle, makeup and jewelry. All shapes of earrings are flattering to the oval face if you choose colors that flatter your skin tone, hair, and eyes.
Round faces should avoid round shaped earrings. Choose drop or dangle earrings (stick, oval, square, spiral or geometric shape) to give a linear shape to the face. Avoid circular, tiny stud or button earrings. Circular shapes attract the eye to the circular face and make it appear rounder since the eye goes round and round.
Heart shaped faces should wear small round drops, chandeliers, teardrops, hoops, or oversized earrings in any shape that makes the chin appear wider. These shapes make the chin appear wider. Avoid very short earrings.
Rectangular/square faces should select wide spirals, wide drops and wide oval shapes. Never wear square/rectangular or square geometric shapes. Avoid long dangles if your face is very oblong. Round shapes will carry the eye away from the square shapes of the face.

6. Consider the scale of your face and body in relation to your jewelry.
Small delicate faces are overpowered by large scale earrings. By the same token, very small earrings are lost on a large individual.

7. Store your earrings with matching necklaces in partitioned plastic boxes. These can be found in the craft or fishing section of stores. If the sections in the boxes are too small, the partitions can be removed easily by cutting. It is best to keep earrings in small plastic bags to prevent scratching the necklaces. Store the boxes in a drawer (not near light or heat and away from moisture). Before you have a need, experiment to find suitable jewelry for each outfit. Group matching items together when you store them. This will save time when dressing for an occasion.

Purchasing necklaces, bracelets and rings (in that order) will be discussed in a later article.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Adventures Making Jump Rings

Being a novice, making good jump rings seemed an impossible task. I had no trouble winding copper wire in a coil, but trying to make perpendicular cuts on the coil with flush cutters was an impossibility since one side always had a point. After cutting the point, the rings were acceptable, but the ends did not fit invisibly. I tried sawing with a jewelers saw, but the blades kept breaking. After consulting the Rio catalogue I discovered the saw blades were the wrong size for the gauge wire I was attempting to saw.

My daughter in law, Elizabeth, gave me a Koil Kutter for Christmas. We experimented Christmas day and succeeded in making one good cut. After that we were not able to cut any coils. Since success was ellusive and two expensive saw blades were ruined, this month I decided to retrace every step. I ordered new saw blades. I purchased a Dremel 400XPR since I had been using a Black Decker rotary tool. I thought that possibly I needed more power. I reread Desiree's Desired Creations directions "How to: Koil Kutter with a Dremel" trying to follow each step precisely. Still success eluded me. I contacted Dave Arens the inventor. He was most helpful and able to tell me just what I was doing wrong-twisting my wrist slightly so that the saw guard was not staying flat on the coil holder enabling the saw blade to glide across the coil rather than cut through. Guess what! Instant success. The tool worked like a charm.

I have included some pictures of pieces made before the Koil Kutter. I am certain my next projects will be much better. Thank you to all the people who wrote such good reviews sharing their experiences and Desiree McCrorey with her excellent detailed instructions and pictures. Now I will feel confident making silver jump rings.
Maybe I am not such a dummie after all.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Copper Jewelry

We have been working with copper to make necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Copper jewelry tarnishes very quickly on some individuals. Information on the internet suggested that soaking copper jewelry in tomato juice would brighten it again. Instead, I tried soaking in white vinegar also an acid. The tarnish was removed, but the necklace looked dull. After rubbing it with salt and rinsing thoroughly, it looked brighter but was not restored to previous luster. Experimenting again, I put the necklace in a tumbler and it was brightened. Not many people have a tumbler so this is not a feasible solution. The best solution seems to be to use a metal polish or a polishing cloth being careful to avoid the gemstones.

You should realize that if you find that silver jewelry tarnishes (turns black) very quickly when you wear it, then copper jewelry will tarnish much more quickly. The copper content of the silver combines with the oxygen in the air to form tarnish (black). I found that copper tarnishes within an hour or so when worn against sweaty skin in the summer time.
We debated using a coating over copper jewelry, but decided that the coating would wear through eventually making the jewelry appearance unacceptable. Many folks like the tarnished look of aged copper. I have seen some very attractive pieces that were deliberately aged and polished for highlights giving an antique look.

Consider the damage of the chemicals to the stones in copper jewelry. The treatments suggested above (except the polishing cloth and possibly metal polish) are feasible to use with jewelry having no gemstones.

This information should be considered when evaluating the amount of your time or money to invest when making or purchasing copper jewelry.

Private Stock Jewelry Studio sent us this comment.
"I clean all my copper jewelry in my tumbler, it is amazing!! I also offer my customers free cleaning. The copper is so bright it looks like rose gold!!"

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