I had a lot of fun with the copper sheet in the kit from Jewellery Maker this time. Digging out my Liver of Sulphur and some aluminium rivets from the hardware shop, I bashed and distressed, riveted, wired, folded and scratched the copper to my hearts content. However, the theme was Disco Diva, and I am not at all sure that anything I made this month fitted into that brief.
When I look back to my youth there was still a bit of a hippy vibe going on and tiered cheesecloth skirts were all the vogue. Maybe I have channelled that aspect of the 70s rather than the psychedelic thing that was going on too.
Given the lovely chunks of Black Spinnel and garnet squares, I don’t think I could get anywhere near the sparkling. glitter ball discos I remember. In fact, I think it is more reminiscent of the 1920s and 30s, so I brought in a bit of that feel by using Vintaj Verdigris on the copper, that greeny blue shouts Art Deco to me.
Check out Model shops and online hardware stores for some interesting rivets. I found loads at Kibworth DIY. They also had some great little copper roves which resemble bead caps. I like the slightly industrial edge to these things, and buying rivets this way is a lot cheaper than paying the prices on jewellery making sites. Using the double ended hole punch by Beadsmith, I could use some really chunky rivets to make decorative features. Just remember to match up the hole size with the rivet size though!
If you want to avoid damaging the head of a domed rivet (my aluminium ones were very soft), then hammer with a couple of layers of cardstock underneath and you will avoid flattened heads.
Another tip to make life easier for you is to file off the snipped end of the rivet before bashing it. Give yourself the best chance of spreading the metal evenly by starting with a flat surface rather than the one left from the flush cutters.
There are lots of things you can use to create texture on the copper other than just with a hammer. I like to use the metal letter punches to create random texture, as well as the the dimple punch, or simply scratch the surface using a scribe.
How to use Liver of Sulphur Gel
- Liver of sulphur gel is really handy and versatile. Only a tiny bit is necessary if you dissolve it in some hot water, and you will be able to blacken loads of metal. Keeping the solution a little bit warm helps to make the process very swift indeed, but is not absolutely necessary. If you want more control, use less Gel, and / or cooler water. The gel can be painted directly onto your metal if you prefer, but it is a bit of a waste as you will probably end up using at least 10 times more than you need if you dissolve it in hot water.
- Clean your pieces really well before dropping them in the solution. Sand things down, and wash them off with detergent and dry them to make sure there are no oils from your hands on the metal as this will hinder the evenness of the blackening process.
- Disposing of Liver of Sulphur – wait until the solution is clear and then you can pour it down the drain and flush for a few minutes with water. The better way is to neutralise it with baking soda solution and then flush it away, or even better still, neutralise it and pour it into sawdust, cat litter or wadded paper towels, let it dry outside and dispose of in the bin. The chemicals will no longer be harmful this way as the liquid will have evaporated off.
- If you are using a lot of Liver of Sulphur then the last option is by far and away the best thing to do to dispose of the stuff, but if you have 100ml of solution (all my pieces were treated in less than that amount of solution) then neutralising it, disposing down the drain and flushing with plenty of water is ok. Just don’t do it too often!
- To make your Liver of Sulphur solution work for longer shapes, use a tall narrow pot like an old yoghurt container, and if necessary, turn your piece in the pot. It only takes moments for the blackening to happen, so use some tweezers and turn the bit sticking out back into the solution.
- When you take your pieces out of Liver of Sulphur, drop them into a pot containing some bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and water. This neutralises the chemicals and you can finish with a wash off in tap water.
- Final step is to sand back the black in the places where you don’t want it, leaving black in all the recesses.
I tend to use a burnishing tool and Renaissance Wax to seal and protect the surface; it keeps my jewellery looking as I intended it to. The burnishing tool really makes the metal shine, and the wax protects the surface from air and oxidation.