Tag Archives: patina

Another One Off the Bench

copper domes leaf

I’ve been playing around with this one for a while. How long is a while? Well . . .

textures

I made those domes over a year ago, but couldn’t figure out what to do with them. I still have a few more, in various sizes, made from copper that was passed through the rolling mill with a sheet of cardstock that had leaf shapes punched out of it.

Playing around with them a couple months ago, I discovered I liked the look of one dome inside a larger dome, a little off-center . . . but how to join them? I almost went for riveting, but I didn’t want a rivet head sticking up out of the top, messing up the pattern. Then I thought of prongs. So I drilled some holes in one of the large domes I had, and soldered in some wires . . . crookedly.

copper domes oops

Yeah, that’s not going to work for what I had in mind. If I ever have a cabochon that’s just the right size, however, I may revisit this.

So that leaves soldering. And because soldering two things together with an air pocket between in the presence of wet flux can cause the world’s tiniest scary explosion (it’s true), I learned a fancy way of incorporating little steam release holes.

copper domes practice

I used a triangular file to carve out some nicks on the edge of this practice dome, then applied the same idea to the real one.

And then the soldering, which I have no picture of. For the most part, I soldered evenly with only a few blorps (the trick is to keep that bottom dome hot so the solder doesn’t creep upward too much), and then I was able to solder the bail on with a minimum of fuss, although it’s not 100% the design I had in mind–another day, another project, perhaps. It’s adequate, and I like it. Now to copper-plate the telltale silver traces by throwing the piece in the pickle with a bit of iron binding wire. Ha ha, the miracles of science!

That left me with a really dull orangey surface. I cleaned it up a bit with some radial bristle discs, and dumped the pieced in some liver of sulfur in the hopes of getting a vibrant patina.

I dipped once. I dipped twice. I left it in there a while. And . . . well . . . meh. The next day, I took a power stripper to it. Seriously. Bob tipped me off to this one. You get a heat gun like the kind you get at the hardware store to take the tiles off your basement floor (gee, sounds like something I have experience in . . . ) and blow it at your piece until you get a cool patina. And cool I got–I didn’t expect a sort of iridescent purple, but that’s what I ended up with.

And now I have less than a week to finish up my State Fair project before turning it in. Plus I have to write a bio. Ugh. Maybe I’ll go procrastinate some more . . .

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Insert Egg Pun Here

So, I’ve been saving this egg in the fridge for maybe two months, in anticipation of an oxidizing experiment.  Today was the day I boiled that sucker up.

egg1And here he is, ready to be crushed and laid into a plastic bag with some silver and copper pieces. (Photo also includes my sketchbook, because I’ve been writing down/sketching ideas lately, and a Halloween hat in progress.  Why?  Because I’m too lazy to talk about all those things separately.  So nyah.)

I’ve been told the process can take a few hours, but here’s what I got after about thirty minutes.  DIG the darkness of the pinky ring in there!

egg2

 

I think I”m most happy with the color I got on my wonky aventurine pendant.  It really brings out the stamped design, and makes the whole thing look . . . well, more battered from age than incompetence:

egg3What can I say?  Egg-cellent.

The copper is still in the bag, two hours later.  The oxidation seems a bit patchy; I should have thought to clean the pieces first.  I’m trying to bring out the star pattern from the moon and stars pendant (no, I didn’t forget about that.)  It looked really great when I first made the copper piece:

moonstars3

But over the weeks since then, it’s faded quite a bit.  I tried shining it up with some steel wool, and I think that actually dulled the relief pattern even more.  Last week I tried making a new one with some 28 gauge copper sheet (this is 24, I believe) thinking that the pattern would probably squeeze harder on a thinner metal, but no dice.  I’ve read that you’re supposed to anneal copper before you roll it, so perhaps that would help.  This may sound silly, but annealed copper kind of grosses me out, like nails on a chalkboard. There’s something very nervy about touching it. Well, I won’t be going for extra lab hours this week, but maybe the week after, I’ll give it a go.  I also want to try making red-ball headpins out of copper wire!

 

 

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Filed under experiment, metals, pendant