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Amazing Enamel Effects

Buying a kiln recently has given me the chance to experiment with enamelling on larger pieces of copper and to produce some really cool effects. These effects happen when you combine different types of enamel.

I usually use smaller flat pieces of copper for making enamelled earrings and have had some of these effects happen when firing with a torch but they are much more obvious when you use larger pieces. I made a few practice pieces which you can see in the photos below.



This was flux {a transparent enamel not to be confused with soldering flux!} applied straight onto copper and fired until the copper was a bright golden colour. Then I added a layer of liquid enamel in green and red over the flux and fired again. 
The lines and spots form when the enamel becomes hot enough to start moving and in this case the transparent pushes through the liquid enamel layer forming these cool lines and spots. The effect is better in the green liquid enamel than the red. 


Next is an effect that reminds…
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Copper Poppy Cuff Bracelet

I've been making bangles for a few years now but have never thought about making cuffs until recently. Cuffs are very popular especially in copper as some people believe the copper helps with arthritis pain {although there's no scientific proof of this}.

I decided to start making a couple of narrow copper cuffs to see how it goes and whether they sell.


Copper cuff with hammered bark texture

 Copper cuff with leaf vein texture
I spent a stupid amount of time trying to work out the sizing of cuffs which isn't as simple as it might seem! I make them to fit the buyer's wrist size not a general 6 inch length piece of metal fits all approach {it doesn't}. After making a couple for myself I finally worked out how to get the sizing right. I haven't had any returns yet so the sizing must be ok....:D

Soon after I started listing the cuffs I got a request from a buyer in France who had bought one of my copper poppy bangles ....


She asked to return it as it was too big an…

Double Twist Copper Bangle

I love the look of twisted wire and thought I'd have a go at making a double twist copper bangle.
I took a length of thinner gauge twisted copper wire I'd had hanging around for a while and decided to twist it together with a length of 3.25mm copper wire to make a round bangle.  As this bangle started off as just a practice piece I didn't pay too much attention to what gauge wire the thinner twist was but I think it was two pieces of 18g {1mm} that I'd twisted in my flexshaft.

In order to twist the two pieces of wire together I was going to need to use my vice and a pair of locking pliers. I soon realized that the vice and the pliers weren't going to hold the two separate pieces of wire together securely due to the amount of tension produced as they were twisted so I needed to solder both wires together at either end to keep them in place. 
Once I started twisting the two wires they soon became work hardened and I could feel the tension produced keeping the two pi…

The Bronze Wire Splitting Solder Joins Mystery

A few months ago I started having a strange problem. The solder joins on some of my 2mm bronze wire bangles started to split as I was making them. Three out of five of a set I was making split and I had to start them again.  Bearing in mind I sell a lot of bangles and have made hundreds of them without any solder join problems occuring before I was baffled. I also had a few solder join splitting occurances with 3mm bronze wire and 2mm copper wire.
One of the joins on the 2mm bronze wire came open literally as I got the bangle out of the pickle pot and others would start to split when I put pressure on the join either by rounding the bangle on the mandrel or by hammering it on the mandrel.
I thought about what I was doing differently..... but I wasn't doing anything differently from how I made all my other bangles! I use wire ranging from 1.8mm up to 5mm in copper, bronze and sterling silver. The process is the same - cut the wire, file the ends flat using a mitre jig, bend the wi…

Turning Round Wire Into Square Wire

Up to now I've always regarded the wire grooves on my rolling mill as slightly annoying as they take up space on the rollers that I wish was smooth. Then I'd be able to texture wider sheets of metal instead of the measly 4cm I can do now. I've never had any inclination to make my own wire so the grooves are those things that are just "there".
That's up til now! I've known for a while you can make square shaped wire using the grooves so thought I'd have a go. I have searched for square copper and bronze wire in the past and only managed to find the thinner gauges in the UK. Being able to make my own in thicker gauges is a real bonus.
 I just need to apologise now for the blurry photos. For some reason I decided not to brace my arm/hand on anything when I took most of the photos.....
If you move the two rollers close together on the mill you can see the diamond shape gap the  grooves leave.



I annealed some bronze wire and fed it through the first groov…