Saturday, May 15, 2010

Studio Saturday and Fire Water Copper with Lynn Davis

Welcome to Studio Saturday! Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Lois Moon has won a really lovely set of willow branch disk beads from Heather Powers at Humblebeads! Congrats! Email Heather your mailing address to to receive your prize.

This week we're visiting the studio of Lynn Davis to see what the heat and fire is all about.

Welcome to the studio, I've been continuing on my quest to make the most of maximizing the use of art beads and conquering my torch fears. For the longest time I've been wanting to make my own copper headpins, so I always have the size I need for the hole in the bead or charm I'm working with, and something that looks organic and handmade to match the pewter components.

I had already used a butane mini-torch to make fine silver headpins, but I love the ruddy color of the copper and wanted to have some that would have that beautiful oxidized ruby color. I knew I'd need more heat than the butane torch put out so I went to the hardware store and got a plumber's BernzOmatic torch. Sometimes making jewelry with Art Beads takes you to strange places for your supplies - you can get the raw copper wire there too!

I cut a 6" length of 20 gauge raw copper wire and turned on the Mapp gas plumber's torch. Holding the copper wire very vertical with a hemostat I kept it in the hottest part of the flame and it balled up right away. To get that ruddy ruby color I immediately dunked it into cold water and wiped it down with a cloth. Now to turn it into a bail for one of my pewter charms, I put it through the hole in the top of the charm and made a 90 degree angle so I could put the wire into my bail making pliers.

I made a couple of turns, one to the left, one to the right and then back to the center on the bail making pliers to make a hanger for the charm so that a large chain, wire wrapped beads or a thick cord could pass through to make a pendant out of the charm. The pewter has a coppery-bronze patina on it, so it is very compatible with the copper wire color.

To finish it off I tucked the end of the copper into the back of the bail to make it secure, or if it's long enough it can be wrapped around the bottom to make a wire-wrapped finish. The three wrap loops can be snugged together to make a tight rounded coil, or spread them in a "V" shape for a different look. I like mixing the metals with a silver chain, pewter charm and copper headpin bail for an interesting play of color.

Here's the question for this week, post a comment in reply and you will win a pair of my pewter charms so you can practice making headpins for earrings or necklace bails, too.

Do you use copper wire in your designs with Art Beads as well as fine or sterling silver and if you do, how do you decide which metal to use in your design - do you have a favorite?  Do you like the natural copper finish or do you use a patina of heat or liver of sulphur to change the color of the wire in the finished design -  and do you mind that copper isn't considered a "precious metal" like silver or gold?

I hope this gives you some ideas on ways to try copper wire bails and headpins with pewter, glass and many other Art Beads in your designs!

Posted by Lynn Davis, who is also offering a BONUS tutorial on her blog for making small diameter headpins for pearls and other small-holed beads using fine copper wire.

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