Capture Your Stones (and Vacation Memories) in Wire: Make Meaningful Wire Jewelry

I spent last week in Nova Scotia, beachcombing my little heart out. I've found the best variety of rocks I've ever seen, great pieces of driftwood, all kinds of creatures' claws, sand dollars, sea urchins, lots of pretty coral bits, several kinds of shells and, of course, beach glass. It was a special, meaningful trip, so Mama and I are coming up with great ideas for how to use those finds in jewelry. Janice Berkebile's new jewelry-making video, Easy Wire Stone Capture, seems to be the perfect solution.


Using Janice's techniques, I can weave wire into little cages that will hold small collections of our beachy treasures and make the most special pendants to remind us of our trip. Janice shares a great design for wrapping single large pieces, too, to turn pebbles or shells with a hole in them into bold pendants so easily.

Any silver, brass, or copper wire would look great with these natural treasures, but I'm glad that I have dozens of patina options, too, to change the look of these wire creations. They seem like they need verdigris copper or darkened metal to capture the feelings and emotions of our trip and memories of this unique place, which is so full of history and sea-weathered structures. The chipping and worn paint, the rocky cliffs, the gnarly trees dripping in moss–it's all gorgeous and inspiring, and I want to capture as much of it as I can in our jewelry creations with metal that looks equally old and worn.


To help me do just that, here are six tips from the JMD archives for adding patinas to various kinds of metal and wire (originally published in Easy Wire 2011).

1. Copper will affect the chemical balance of your liver of sulfur solution. If you put silver into a solution that has already had copper dipped in it, you'll find it turns a yellowish color. Either make a separate liver of sulfur solution for your silver, or dip copper after you've finished with your silver pieces.

2. If you design a piece of jewelry that has silver and copper in it and you want to add patina, consider adding patina to the wire before you make the piece or check into Baldwin's Patina, a solution that colors copper without affecting nickel silver, sterling silver, or gold alloys. It creates a gunmetal effect, so you won't get the multidimensional effect you'd get from traditional liver of sulfur, but it's a useful product if you're combining metals that are problematic when mixed together in liver of sulfur or other patina solutions.


3. Adding a drop of household ammonia to a liver of sulfur solution can make your results more colorful and therefore intriguing.

4. If you're designing a piece of jewelry on which you only want to add patina to a small area, Midas Liver of Sulfur XL Gel can be convenient because its gel form gives you more control than liquid.

5. Vary the direction you rub metal with an abrasive pad to remove the outer layer of patina and use circular strokes to avoid getting lines or ridges that can interfere with your jewelry designs.  

6. Putting your metal into a warm or hot liver of sulfur solution will darken it quickly, but the longer you leave it in, the less control you have over the color. Dip your jewelry piece into the solution, pull it out again quickly, and rinse it off with water. Repeat this process until you achieve the color you're looking for. Darkening in layers will also give you a more durable patina.

If you have a bowl of beach finds lying around that you'd like to turn into beautiful, meaningful jewelery, order Easy Wire Stone Capture: 4 Alternative Ways to Set Stones with Janice Berkebile (or download it instantly), for step-by-step tutorials on making wire bezels and cages to hold gems, shells, ammonites, rocks, and more.

P.S. Get a few more ideas about patinas on copper and brass here, including ways to create patinas using household items like potato chips, vinegar, and ammonia. 

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