The two things in life that I am truly passionate about are Color and Texture. I am constantly seeking new ways to blend these elements, and always trying to learn new techniques, to ensure that my creations are uniquely my own. As an artist, I've never been content with my current skill set. If something intrigues me, I'll learn more. I'd like to believe that this is evident in everything I create.
I've been wanting to play with some metal smithing for a while, but have no skills in this department. It's also a challenge to shop for supplies when you really don't understand what you're looking for. The craft store sends me to the hardware store, and the hardware store sends me to the craft store. Yet hammered copper still calls to me. So where does one go on a budget to learn things from masters?... The Internet! You-Tube should be every artist best friend. It is absolutely amazing what you can learn to do in a 10 minute video. So I watch a couple videos. Then I go to the hard ware store for a hammer and some copper, and I set out to make some leaves...
If only it were as simple as that. Well, for starters I bought the wrong tools. I picked up a carpenter's hammer, when what I needed was a mason's hammer. One has a flat head, while the other is sharp. That sharp edge is essential in stretching the metal. What to do? Well, I winged it. I tried using the claw end of my regular household hammer.( I'm sure my grandpa had no idea when he bought me that hammer and a bag of nails at the age of 5, what a huge investment in my future that simple tool would be. Thanks grandpa, for seeing and stimulating the creator in me at such a young age.) I also don't have an anvil or bench block. I'm working on a 1" x 2" metal file plate as a base to hammer on. My unstable work surface makes for lots of rattling. My neighbors have been saints to put up with all the noise this week.
With much time and probably more effort than necessary had I had the proper tools, I hammered out 5 copper leaves. The smallest being the most difficult to pull off while keeping my fingers intact. I sanded them down to remove most of the patina from the annealing process, and give them more depth and texture. I then took copper wire and hammered out hooks for closures. All challenges aside , I am quite pleased with the results of my first go at forging copper.
Yet another first, I hand made the chain. It's a simple figure 8 design, hammered for strength, lending a not too delicate presence with this "chunky" element. The closure in the back is made from a hammered copper wire hook and a vintage ribbed brass button, with natural blue/green patina from age.
The fifth copper leaf was then folded so to fit the wrist, to become the pendant in the bracelet. Another vintage button with natural patina and a hand made hammered copper hook are used for the closure. I made this chain as well, in the same figure 8 design, but on twice the scale to give it more of a presence. One more of the patterned lamp work lentils completes the chain. The chain is then woven with the hand dyed silk ribbon shreds to soften, and embellished with olive jade and copper and glass bead dangles of similar elements to the necklace.
Completing the set, a simple pair of earrings. Hand made ear wires, host a copper leaf design bead, a lamp work lentil, and a dangle of seed beads and olive jade, with hand dyed silk tails.
The final touch was to give it all a salt water patina. I especially love the effect this had on the ribbed copper beads, leaving bright turquoise and copper stripes and a much more subtle patina everywhere else.
Just before setting out to write this post. I was catching up on my email. In last Sunday's Love My Art Jewelry post, http://lovemyartjewelry.blogspot.com/2012/05/very-special-one-of-kind-birds.html MaryAnn Carroll shared a wonderful sanctuary that she happened upon. The Second Hand Parrot Sanctuary takes in abused and abandoned birds, and offers them lifetime care. What an amazing lady Lisa is to do such selfless work.
I thought it was divine timing, and would like to offer a donation of 10% of the proceeds from the sale of "Who Do You Love" to the sanctuary. You can check out her amazing work here http://www.secondhandparrotsanctuary.org