I just finished making a cuff bracelet and matching hoop earrings using a 1’ strip of deeply sculpted copper. Since it is a gift for someone special, I wanted the jewelry to be beautiful. Given the copper’s pattern, I was already halfway to a beautiful bracelet. But I wasn’t sure if I could bend the copper enough to make a pair of earrings. And, I wasn’t sure if darkening the copper to show off the pattern was a good idea. Truthfully, I was surprised with how gorgeous it turned out.
You may have guessed that it takes several steps to get metal to its final, wearable-jewelry result. I thought I’d explain how I sawed, hammered, and hand-moulded my way to a finished jewelry set.
I started by sawing the copper strip into three pieces for the bracelet and earrings. I gave each piece a quick filing on the cut edges. (There’s nothing like a tiny, hanging shard of metal stuck in your finger to ruin your day.)
Then, into the kiln the pieces went. The copper’s internal structure gets “loosened up” in the kiln so that it can be shaped more easily. When it reaches a deep red color, the copper is nearly 1200°, and it is ready for a nice cold bath.
Now cool to the touch, I hand-formed the small pieces to be nearly circular, and the large piece into an oval shape.
In my next post, I’ll cover the joy of hammering and using patina to bring out the copper’s beauty. And, I’ll show you how it all turned out.