Thursday, 17 March 2016

A Groovy Shape Copper Bangle And How I Made it

A couple of weeks ago I made these earrings... 

I love this retro-style groovy shape so decided I'd make a bangle using the same sort of shapes.
Here's how I did it together with the moments of enlightenment I had along the way :D

I started with a 20cm long piece of copper which would be stretched when it was put through the rolling mill so would end up plenty long enough for a medium bangle.{Or so I thought....}

I continued with the strange fetish I have for spending a fair amount of time with a scalpel and masking tape in order to get the thin strips I needed for the stripe texture. I rolled the metal through the rolling mill and removed the tape to reveal the stripes.

The next stage was to mark the points where I was going to cut into the sides of the copper and then use the saw to do just that.
I also had to decide where I was going to put the solder join - in the middle of a section or at the point where it narrows. That was my #1 moment of enlightenment. All moments will be listed and explained at the end of this post :D

The next step was to draw onto the copper where I was going to pierce out the rounded rectangle shapes and to drill a hole in the middle of each one ready for the saw blade.

It was this point that moment of enlightenment #2 occurred. The length of the copper meant I wouldn't be able to turn my saw frame in order to pierce out the rectangle shapes! I needed to anneal the copper so that I could bend it. Annealing it removed the shapes I'd drawn onto the copper so I had to draw them again, not quite as neatly. But I got there in the end.

Piercing out the shapes.
 I thought this would take me about 15 minutes - it took nearly an hour due to my brain freeze moment about the length of the copper and the saw frame :D

After I'd pierced out all the shapes I used a tip I'd read about in Art Jewelry magazine {now sadly no more}.
I inserted strips of 3M sand paper into my saw frame and threaded it through the pierced holes the same way I had with the saw blade. The saw frame holds the sandpaper taut and makes it easy to sand awkward spots.

You need to use the sandpaper with the plastic type backing not the normal paper stuff, it will rip.
The blue dots you can see on the copper are when I was trying to decide whether to add some silver balls or not. I went with the "or not" option in the end.

After spending a good amount of time filing and sanding I gave the front a quick sand. Then it was time to bring the ends together {I'd already filed them straight earlier} and into the pickle pot to clean the bangle up for soldering.

The solder join - not too much to clean up on the front. I removed most of the excess with a sanding stick.

The cleaned up copper after coming out of the pickle. As the solder join ran along the edge of one of the pierced out shapes I needed to file and sand it to smooth and round the corners so it matched the others.

It was this point that moment of enlightenment #3 occurred. When I put the bangle on the bracelet mandrel it was much smaller than it should have been. Yes I'd forgotten that like wide band rings, wide band bangles need to be made one or two sizes larger to allow for the width of the metal. I'm sure there's a formula explaining the science but I don't know what it is...........

So that meant that I had to do quite a lot of "heating and beating" otherwise known as annealing and forming to stretch the copper so it would become big enough to be called a medium. I  got there in the end but all the stretching did obviously alter the shape slightly, stretching the pierced out rectangles and widening the cut in sections.

I then decided I would give the bangle an anticlastic shape.

Due to having to stretch the copper and the forming on the bangle die, some of the edges ended up a bit wavy. A bit of gentle hammering on the die sorted that out.

I decided the corners looked a bit square so got my file out again and rounded them off a bit more...

The finished {at last!} bangle ready for oxidizing.

It's finished!

Moment's of enlightenment...

#1 Where I put the solder join. I decided to put it in the middle of a section which then gave me the problem of what to do about the pierced out shape. I initially thought I'd leave the pierced out bit until the bangle was soldered then saw it out.........then I realized that would be tricky because I wouldn't have much room to move the saw. I managed to do it ok by cutting out the pierced bit so it ended at what would become the solder join on one side then tidying up the bottom corners of the pierced rectangle once I'd soldered the bangle closed.
Next time I'll put the join on the narrow part :D

#2 The length of the metal v the depth of the saw frame. You can sometimes get round this problem by turning your saw blade 90° and in effect sawing sideways. I did try this when I started to pierce out the shapes on the bangle but it was still tricky to do. For some unknown reason {possibly lack of chocolate as I'm on a diet} it took me a while to work out I needed to bend the metal upwards to allow room for the saw frame to turn 360° as I cut out the rectangle shapes.

#3 Not allowing extra length for a wide bangle. I just didn't think about this as I was making the bangle. Luckily my solder join held up to a lot of stretching of the copper to get it to the right size so it all worked ok in the end. Lesson learned!

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  1. I think it looks great! But honestly, all that faffing about sounds exactly like something I would do :) You'd better go and get some chocolate, quick!

  2. I have learnt some many tips reg metal work from this post - The sandpaper trick is awesome. I love the stripes on the bangles and the retro earrings are so much fun but wont the earrings be heavy?

    1. They aren't that heavy to be honest. The sheet started at 0.9mm then once it went through the rolling mill it was more like 0.7mm plus the pierced out bits remove metal too :D

  3. Beautiful work Tracy. I love seeing all the steps you need to go through to create such cool pieces. It sounds like this project has taught you some great lesson!

  4. Absolutely lovely - I do like your masking tape pattern - and I truly always believe the more mistakes you make the more you learn - thank you so much for sharing your step by step

  5. Love it! Once again thank you for sharing your journey!

  6. Wow girl! I have to change the design while working on a piece to sometimes. Looks fabulous! :D

    1. Yeah, it's all a learning curve, even though it feels like a pain at the time! :D

  7. Such a wonderful story, and great photos, that really brings alive how much work and thought goes into design and creating, and it really does look wonderful at the end :) And all that without chocolate..!

  8. great post and your design are also great.i love your thinking.thanks for sharing it.

  9. Wonderful post and very creative designs, Fashionable and trendy. All the best and keep it up.


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