Torch-Free and Totally Tubular Jewelry: Turn Metal Tubing into Bracelets, Earrings and Necklaces
Here's how it went in our meeting:
Me: "They can make all of this without a torch?"
My co-worker: "Yes, the tubing is small and soft enough that it doesn't have to be annealed."
But I couldn't just take her word for it; I was so intrigued that I had to watch Tracy Stanley's new metal tubing jewelry-making video, Kitchen Table Metalsmithing: Making Metal Jewelry With Tubing, and find out what the buzz was about–so I could tell you!
First of all, why use metal tubing instead of sheet metal? Using metal tubing instead of sheet metal means no cutting or sawing metal strips, no straight lines to worry about on those strips, and most importantly, almost no sharp edges to file and finish after you've cut them–perfect for making bracelets! The flattened tubing has smooth, rounded, finished edges, and when hammered, the double-layer tubing creates a nice sort of "lumpiness" and depth of texture that single-layer metal sheet just can't duplicate. You can think of the flattened metal tubing as pre-finished metal strips with interesting dimension. The only part you have to file and finish are the ends that you cut, and that's small quick work.
Another bonus about using metal tubing is this: it's soft enough that you don't need a torch to anneal it. The pieces Tracy shows in the video use cold connections, too, so you don't need a torch for soldering, either. It's a completely fire-free technique.
The cherry on top is that you can get metal tubing like this from hardware stores. Now, I've heard people say they get jewelry-making supplies, specifically copper wire, from hardware stores before, and I've gone to my local big-chain hardware stores as well as smaller local ones, only to find that most of them don't have any copper wire or tubing. But just last month I was at two different Lowe's stores back home in Tennessee and just happened to see copper tubing and wire at both stores. I also found copper wire and tubing at a little local hardware store. So you can find copper and/or brass wire and tubing at hardware stores, just maybe not at every hardware store. Save yourself a frustrating trip and call first, but it can be done! You can also get metal shears, plastic mallets, and optional tube cutters at the hardware store, too. Hmm, perhaps we should call these videos Hardware-Store Metalsmithing instead of Kitchen Table Metalsmithing!
After you've formed the actual bracelet, the decorating begins. Tracy shares how to embellish the flattened tubing with metal stamps and/or patinas (if you'd like) as well as beads, spacers, and other components and findings–all connected using rivets or wired cold connections. She even shows how to make your own handcrafted clasps. Again, there's no soldering or torch work of any kind in this tutorial.
Treat yourself to Tracy Stanley's Making Metal Jewelry With Tubing DVD or instant-download video and be so pleasantly surprised, as I was, at the stylish jewelry you can make using simple round or square metal tubing. It's a refreshing look at some unconventional metalsmithing supplies! Tracy shows in detail how to make a bracelet and earrings and shows examples of necklaces that were made using the same technique. I bet you clever folks could figure out how to modify Tracy's technique to make rings, as well. Learn more about Making Metal Jewelry With Tubing and take a peek at the preview–then get yours!