Friday, November 11, 2011

Buying the Copper for the Jewelry

Big 2 headed vulture at the gates

 I get all of the copper that I use in my jewelry from Recla Metals Recycle Center in Montrose. The copper is brought in to be recycled, usually from building remodel jobs or tear downs. The wire is weighed, sorted, and stripped. It is stored in various bins until it is crushed into huge bales for shipment out. The warehouse where the copper is sorted also has brass, steel and some other recyclable items like old computers. There is usually a big pile of unsorted items near the front of the warehouse. There is evertything from pots and pans to discarded Grammy Awards. Not that any famous musicians chunk their Grammys. The company that manufactures the actual brass Grammy statues is near Montrose. They recycle the rejected ones.
It is fun to sort through the pile and look at the stuff in it. I have found a lot of brass horse figurines, some interesting copper teapots and flowerpots, and one turkey roasting pan. I can buy these by the weight, just like the copper. I usually have a particular item that I need, like wire of a certain size. The copper is in dumpsters and bins in the back of the warehouse. The men who work at the recycle yard all know me. The generously let me sift through just about anything. Larry, the man who works in the warehouse, saves some items that he thinks I might like or need.
When the wire comes in, it has plastic insulation. this is stripped away using a tool that they have. The wire is then sorted by size and put in dumpsters or piles. From there, it goes to a big compressing machine to be baled. I usually get my wire right out of the compressing machine. (not while it is on!) I can get pretty dirty, so I try and make my copper runs on days when I am in jeans. (that is most days, actually)
After I pick out my prizes, I take them to the scale to have them weighed. I get a slip and go into the counter to pay. Diane, the owner, sometimes buys jewelry from me. If she is around the office, we have a nice visit.

Recycle yard, they take everything
Various metal items waiting to be sorted

I like to try new forms, shapes and textures. Sometimes, I will see something made of copper that I want to try and use. These experiments will often lead to a new jewelry item, or a one-time object. It depends on what is in the warehouse.
I bought screen, some corrigated copper from plumbing, and some heavy plate copper that had a natural patina. 
I use 4 or 5 different gauges of wire, and some strapping that makes nice cuff bracelets. I have made the mistake of just buying a little of something, then when I go back it is gone. Now if they have something that I use, I buy a lot of it.

Copper Bales

The copper wire is soft, semi-soft or rigid. I have learned to bend the wire and test the rigidity before I get it. Really rigid wire can be brittle, and really soft wire will not wear well over time.
Some copper has a very red color, and some is
just brown. I like color variations, so I buy it all.
It's shopping!

1 comment:

  1. Just showed your blog to my coworkers at my internship and they want a show too! When are you coming to Denver to for Autumn's show?