Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Flash of Inspiration, or Not!

Sometimes I lack inspiration. When this happens, I look to my material for a little spark. I have a dozen plastic containers with beads, stones, and copper pieces in them. I can pull out a tray and look through the stuff. Before long, I have an idea for something new. Sometimes, I see something in a magazine, at a craft show, or in a store that gives me an idea. If all else fails, I re-create a winning design, and add a variation that will make it unique.
People will ask me where I get my material. I order a lot of it on the web. Ebay is an essential tool. Where else can you order tools, stones, lapidary supplies, even precious metals? I look for new things at rock shops, bead stores, and especially at gem and mineral shows.
I actually find some stones and drill, polish and shape them myself. The only reason I do this is to entertain myself. When I take this much time with a stone, my wages drop to pennies per hour. It is fun for me and it's good therapy.
The drudge work for me is pounding and shaping the copper. I buy recycled copper wire by the pound. Some of it is heavy strapping, or sheets, but most is wire. I cut it, shape it, and pound it flat. I use a small steel anvil and a chasing hammer that has belonged to my husband for forty years. (it's mine now!) It feels good to use tools that have a history. They are like comfortable faded jeans.

After the pieces are shaped and pounded, they go into a container of brine. About 24 hours later, they go onto a rack in a sealed container of vinegar. If I do everything right, the pieces come out with a nice turquoise, green, orange and brown patina on them. The color can vary greatly. I rinse the pieces, then fix the finish with Crylon. It is a water based finish that keeps the copper from turning the wearer blue.

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