14 Nov 2009

Copper loop in loop bracelet – part 2

Further to my earlier post about the thought process that gave rise to the copper loop in loop bracelet featured – I decided on a finished colour for it.

I oxidised it fully black initially – I get a good solid black on copper by heating the pieces in a bowl of just boiled water to get the metal nice and warm, then drop them into a warm solution of liver of sulphur – a task I relegate myself to the garden for as it pongs something wicked. When it appears to have taken on a good tone, I take it out and rinse it, give it a good rub on some kitchen paper and repeat the process.

A copper pendant that has been oxidised, then polished back
to give an antiqued finish.
Please click to see a larger version of all of the photographs.

Pieces to be oxidised must be really clean – my habit is to tumble them just beforehand with some warm soapy water and avoid touching them with my fingers – I’ve seen pieces with flat hammered sections not take the colour properly and leave a clearly visible fingerprint, just from picking it up – the oil in your skin is enough to create a resist area. Hence I feel the hot water bath also helps get any surface grease off too. If I don’t want to fire up the tumbler, I just give them a quick scrub with a baby toothbrush in hot soapy water.

One of my copper raindrops necklaces, antiqued.

Once I had the bracelet – and several other pieces – good and black I rinsed then washed them again with the toothbrush and washing up liquid – the oxidisation process tends to leave the surface rather sooty and I aim to get all the surface blackening off initially before I decide if the colour is good as it is, or it needs something else. In the case of the bracelet, I was delighted that the silver soldering (each of the 32 links and clasp is soldered) had taken the oxidising well – I’d chosen a harder solder for this reason and it worked well. Even after some polishing, it has remained less visible than I expected.

Darkly oxidised copper earrings which have been extensively
tumbled to give rise to a glossy gunmetal finish.

If the piece can withstand it, I tend to tumble again at this point as I really like the gunmetal finish this gives the post-oxidised metal. Some pieces are left like this, others get more attention. At this point, I extensively tumbled the bracelet before I decided on the final finish. I tumbled it until the outermost surfaces were just showing the copper through.

But I decided that it was rather too dark for the style, so manually polished the proud surfaces to settle on an antiqued finish instead. So this is the final version of it, heavily antiqued (more so than I typically do) and giving a good contrast between the internal and external aspects of the link structure.

4 thoughts on “Copper loop in loop bracelet – part 2

  1. Thank you. If the bright shiny copper would stay that lovely, then I’d be more tempted to keep things shiny – they seem to retain their finish better once antiqued. I’ve just finished a chunkier one that just needs final polishing.

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