Copper Confessions: Supply Stash, Inspiration, and a Big Tip for Copper Jewelry Making
I love copper; I always say that copper is like a metal that’s not really a metal, because it feels so warm and fluid in my hands. Its affordability is a definite perk! Plus I do love that gorgeous colorful patina it can achieve.
I was just digging through my stash from Tucson (I know, that was months ago. . .) and I couldn’t believe all the cool copper jewelry making stuff I’d bought! Some are vintage pieces with that gorgeous blue-green oxidation that I love, and I got bright and antiqued copper wire from our friends at ParaWire that feels dreamy in my hands–I had to get started right away.
But sometimes when I have jewelry-making materials that I’m particularly attached to, I’m reluctant to make anything with them and “use them up,” especially if they are vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces, or if I only have a small supply. (Is it just me?) More often than not, that reluctance to use “my preciousss” shuts down my creativity and I get zero ideas.
Whenever I have jewelry supplies and no design ideas, I turn to two places for inspiration: my laptop’s “Inspiration” folder full of photos that I’ve been collecting over ten years and my jewelry-making books. It always helps me to browse through pages of books; even if I don’t make the projects in them, it gets my proverbial creative juices flowing and more often than not, I find a project or piece of a project that sparks an idea that I can build on to design a project of my own.
After I’d reacquainted myself with all my copper goodies from Tucson, I gathered up all the rest of my copper jewelry making supplies to see what sparked me. I’d almost forgotten about some tiny copper tubing that I bought years ago with no idea what to make with it–it was just unusually small (less than 3mm) and I had to have it! I’ve tried unsuccessfully to curve it into a nice large arc to use in a necklace, but it always kinked, even if I warmed it up first and went very slowly.
Out of fear of ruining the cool little copper tubing, I stashed it away and didn’t use it at all. That’s why I was thrilled to find a great tip about how to curve metal tubing in Sharilyn Miller’s Contemporary Copper Jewelry book. Sharilyn suggests inserting heavy-gauge wire into the metal tubing before hammering it on a mandrel to help shape it into a rounded form without kinking it. Eureka!
I don’t think I want to hammer this tiny copper tubing (not yet, anyway), but putting a stronger, heavier-gauge wire through it and gradually pulling the ends toward each other helped me create the arc I’d been trying to achieve in this fragile copper tubing for so long! Now I’m not afraid of ruining it and I’ll actually use it. (Well, some of it.)
There are dozens more great wire and copper jewelry making tips in Sharilyn’s Contemporary Copper Jewelry–not to mention a bonus DVD packed full of great copper jewelry making technique instruction so you can watch and learn (or refresh) as many times as you like, right from the couch in your jammies.