Yesterday, I had some rented studio time with my fellow lab rat, Jane. With just us two in the lab (and some 80s pop on the old stereo), we spread out across the benches and did our own things in a relaxed manner for three hours. I finished up the pendant I talked about yesterday, did a few things I’ll talk about tomorrow, and had enough time left over to think about what to do with some scraps I had lying in a pocket of my tool bag for months.
So I made this bangle out of a grotty stub of copper rod, not unlike these other stubs, which I found in the scrap bin. All I had to do was feed them through the rolling mill’s square wire holes over and over to narrow, shape, and lengthen the piece (with an occasional annealing as the resulting wire hardened.) After I had a pretty long piece, I decided to try my hand at a bangle. It’s not quite my thing, but some of my fellow classmates have made some really nice ones, so I figured out the length, cut and filed and ends neatly, and soldered them together. Used a round steel mandrel and a rawhide mallet to make the shape nice and round, and gave the face of it a few whacks on a large steel block to make it flat. Then I used a chasing/repousse tool to stamp a quick design on both sides (Test: was it thick enough that the first side would not be marred by stamping the opposite side? Yes.) Threw it in a tumbler to clean it up, then put some Renaissance Wax on before wearing. I found the whole process to be really enjoyable, so I think I might make some more in the coming months (with a little more attention to detail now.)
Just a few things I learned through research today, though, because my wire (1) didn’t seem truly square and (2) had a few cracks/grooves in it. I found out here–at Juxtamorph, which looks like a truly valuable resource I need to look through–that rolling mills don’t make truly square wire; they are actually meant to start the process, which should properly end with a draw plate with square holes (uh, oh–one more thing to get better at . . . ) I also found from an instruction sheet for Durston rolling mills that the cracks probably mean I had over-tightened the rollers. I also probably should have stopped to anneal the wire more often. I should also be sure to turn the wire 90 degrees on each pass (it can be hard to remember which side you’re on) and to hold the free end to prevent it from curling up in unwanted ways as it comes out of the machine.
And finally, this site by Hans Meevis has some really good pictures of the process and problems that I’ll link to here for future reference.