Posts tagged ‘Copper’

4 Variations on a Box

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post, but we had spring break and taxes and a social life, so things get put on the back burner for a little while. I worked on my rings during this time, but I didn’t get a chance to photograph or finish them. I started the first one by making a box. I’ve always wanted to make one out of metal, and I was always scared to try it: maybe it would be too hard, maybe I don’t have the precision skills to do it, or maybe it just won’t look good. Well I was wrong!

  1. Burst Ring (52.13)  So I started making my first box without much of plan to get me thinking in “box” mode, and by the time I made the first groove in one of the sides I knew exactly what I wanted to make, so I stopped and sketched and planned a bit…I thought it would be a bit boring just having a copper box, just like a cardboard, so instead, I wanted it to be bursting at one corner with jewels spilling out of it.
    Ring a Week #13
    The box construction is fairly straight forward. You make 2 L-shapes by filing a groove in metal sheet, then bending at 45° angle, then soldering the 2 Ls together and finally soldering the top and bottom – but first flaring the sides of 1 corner a bit to make the box look like it’s bursting. After I finished the ring construction, I set it aside because I didn’t know how to make the “jewels” part and didn’t want to mess it up, so I figured it would “come” to me while I was making the second box ring (that I thought of while making the first box ring – doesn’t it always work that way!)
    Ring a Week #13

    I wore the ring without jewels for some time, until I finally decided what to do with it.
    I crushed up some bad peridot beads, got some cubic zirconia in different colors and epoxyed the whole lot to the ring. That came out really good! Nice box!
    Ring a Week #13

  2. Peek Ring (52.14) While I was making the burst ring, I started thinking it was not too subtle. I liked the ring, but felt it was a bit over the top, so I thought to shrink it and make only the lid flared out a bit, just enough for one jewel to be wedged in there. Good idea!
    Ring a Week #14
    This ring came together super quick. For one I didn’t use as thick a sheet as the first, and I also scaled it down quite a bit (the box measures 8mm as opposed to 15)
    Ring a Week #14

    I rubbed the box with 320 sandpaper, oxidized it with liver of sulfur, then brushed it again with the sandpaper, but only loosely in vertical and horizontal directions. Selma squealed when she saw the ring, so of course it is now hers!
    Ring a Week #14 

  3. Escher Ring (52.15) So I got the boxes down. After having successfully made 2 of them, I was feeling confident to make something a bit more complex: A box frame.
    Ring a Week #15
    I made the whole ring with 2mm Sterling silver square wire. The process was very tedious and time consuming. I had to file the individual pieces of wire very slowly to a fraction of a millimeter, so that the cube would not distort. I think this is the most precise ring I’ve ever made – the cube measures 10mm and would have been a lot harder to make had I used thinner wire, or had I tried to make it any smaller.
    Ring a Week #15
    The finish is 220 sandpaper in a random pattern. I oxidized the inner surfaces to give it some dimension. Mark said it looks like an Escher drawing – hence the name. I absolutely love love love this ring.Ring a Week #15
  4. Frame Ring (52.16) Maybe I should call this last ring of the series the “Edit Ring”. It is a combination of the 3 rings so far and is the most minimal of the three. With each ring, I edited the design down to this one. It came out exactly how I imagined and I’m very pleased with it.
    Ring a Week #16
    It looks really easy and effortless, but isn’t. Working with 1mm Sterling silver wire is not as easy as with thicker wire. I also originally soldered 2 tiny squares on the copper L shape, but didn’t like them, so I took them off, which left solder smudges on the copper (and I liked that a lot!)
    Ring a Week #16
    I did not want to sand and polish and clean this ring because I thought it looks great as is. It’s a framework, something to build on and grow.
    Ring a Week #16

So now I’m all caught up on Ring a Week. I learned a lot and I enjoyed the break. It actually allowed me to develop this box theme and push myself a little bit.

  • To get a really crisp edge on a box, file the 45° groove down, all the way down until there’s almost no metal left.
  • Sometimes, taking a distance from work can be really beneficial (we knew that, right?)
  • My design approach is laid out in this series. I always start with something fancy and grand, and then whittle it down to a simplified form. I really had not realized that before, but it is absolutely true. Good Lesson!

Bubbles (RAW52.7)

This week, I decided to make another stacked ring. I’m exploring simple hollow forms and I learned that bubbles (or spheres) are not as easy to make as they look. But I love the process of starting out with a flat disc of metal, then slowly seeing it take shape. I also wanted the ring to look funny.

Ring a Week #7

I decided to texture the metal with a planishing hammer to give it more of a bubble look.

As far as fabrication, the hardest to make was the base bubble (22mm), then they got easier as they got smaller. The smallest (6mm) was also hard to make because it kept slipping out of my fingers. Soldering was definitely a challenge (and I think I’m pretty good at it) – I used a lot of “white-out” to prevent the solder from running after each consecutive step.

Ring a Week #7

It took a lot longer than expected (doesn’t everything!), and to prevent myself from going crazy, I made the ring over several days.

By far the hardest step was soldering the ring shank after all the bubbles, and this is where I think I made a mistake. I should have soldered it on to the base bubble as a first step. Instead, by the time I had all the bubbles on, I had a hard time getting the “clump” to the right temperature, for even the easy solder to flow. But it finally did!

Ring a Week #7

I’m also wondering, design wise, whether I should have had a half bubble on the base. I’m undecided. Maybe I’ll just cut it and see how it looks.  Right now, the ring is sitting in an airtight container with a bunch of tobacco, vinegar and ammonia to see if I can get the copper to patina to a blue-green. I’ll find out in a couple of days.

What I learned this week:

  • Things don’t always end up looking the way you imagined or sketched them
  • To make a good half sphere, use smaller and smaller punches (in the same doming hole). That will get the sides to close in more so you can move to the next size down
  • Praying to the soldering gods (plus a lot of white-out) really helps
  • The more I work with copper, the more I like it

I think I will be laying off the stacked rings for a little while, but I’ll keep playing with the hollow forms.

RAW52.5 – Everything about this ring was difficult!

One of the reason I joined the Ring a Week challenge was to try to improve my precision. I knew going into it this week that it would not be easy. Three stacked “pillows” made from metal tubing cut at 45° angle. What I didn’t realize was just how difficult it turned out to be. First, I had to make the copper tubing since I didn’t have any on hand. Not a good idea! I don’t have a draw plate or a rolling mill, and the thinnest copper sheet I had on hand was 22 gauge. After what seemed like hours of pounding and bending and huffing and puffing and cursing, I managed to get a “roundish” tube with an open seam.

Ring a Week #5

Next came cutting at 45°. Even though I have a jig to cut the tubing at an angle, I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time on any step before. I would file down the edges to what looked liked a perfect 45°, try to match it to the next piece of tubing and the next, but somehow I always ended up with a little gap somewhere. Every copper piece had to measure exactly 15 mm long. After more hours of this exercise, I decided whatever I had was good enough. Next I had to repeat the cutting step for the 2 silver elements on top, the middle 10 x 10 mm, and the very top, a whopping 5 x 5 mm. At least this time, I didn’t have to make the tubes. Surprisingly, the smaller the pieces, the easier it was to get a good angle (either that, or I got better at it!) Now I have little cuts all over my fingers from handling all the sharp edges.

Ring a Week #5

Next, I had to solder the individual pillows. Oh my! more hours of futzing and cursing and melting pieces (so I had to go back and cut some more.) I finally got the pillows and ring shank done, and the last step of soldering the stack went without a hitch. I polished the ring with 220 3M bristle discs and spent another couple of hours oxidizing the middle pillow, trying not to smudge the other two (I ended up having to do it with a toothpick.)

Ring a Week #5

The whole process took about a day and a half. I wanted to give up so many times, scrap it and start a new ring. I’m glad I stuck with it – I learned a lot.

  • making components without the right tools is extremely difficult
  • tubes can inexplicably explode when heated
  • always make extra components from the beginning (now I have a stash of little pillows – I’m too tired to think about making something with them)
  • if I knew how hard things would be, I would never get anything done!

I’m pretty sure next week’s ring will be something very simple…


Here is my new entry for the Ring a Week challenge. (Click images for larger view)

Ring a Week Challenge #3

I wanted to make something over the top, a bit un-wearable, like those cakes you see on Ace of Cakes. I’ve been thinking about this ring for a while, but when I finally decided to make it, I knew it would turn out well. I also had so much fun making it. It was a bit of a challenge to try to figure out how to solder all the saucers on top of each other, without having it fall apart. Originally, I wanted to add more tiers to it, but thought that it might be overkill.

Ring a Week Challenge #3

I used sterling silver and copper, and gave it a nice scratched finish with 220-grit paper. It is 47mm tall and 30mm at its widest and is a bit on the heavy side.


Ring a Week Challenge #3

I can’t wait to see what I’ll make for next week!

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