Mixed metals: Two pairs of earrings

Continuing in the theme of mixing copper and bronze clay, I will describe two pairs of mixed metal earrings (vines and butterflies). Since the technique is similar to the cat in the last posting, I won’t go into as much detail about technique. However, I will discuss the magic of patina — and how one should embrace the unpredictability of patinas.

Vines. First, I rolled out copper clay to a thickness of 0.75mm and textured it with a vine-like design.

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This could have been the basis of a satisfactory pair of earrings, but I continued working. I used the thick paste of bronze clay to cover the design. Making sure that the holes for the jump rings were preserved, I sanded the bronze away, until the copper shows through the raised places in the design and the bronze filled the depressions in the design.

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Note that the difference between the copper and bronze is somewhat subtle. This is nothing to be alarmed about, it will be fixed later.

The pieces were fired (using the same method as described in the posting about the Roman cat) and tumbled.

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It might have been nice to preserve them at this stage. However, copper will discolor from air and handling, so it is best to patina the copper so you have some input into what the piece will eventually look like. Like the cat in the previous posting, I used Baldwin’s patina. Usually, Baldwin’s patina turns copper a lustrous brown and has relatively little impact on bronze. This time, it didn’t work that way. That’s part of the charm of patina — you never know what you are going to get until it happens. This time, the bronze became a bit less reflective and the copper turned a lovely blue-green. The photograph makes the copper look a bit browner than it actually is, but that’s the way things work.  The coin is for scale.

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Like the cat, I sprayed the earrings with a fixative to prevent further discoloration of the metal. The earrings were done!

Butterflies:   I made a pair of butterfly shaped copper earrings, textured with wood grain. I made bodies for the butterflies.

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Again, I covered the wings with bronze clay (leaving the body) and then sanded the bronze down. I fired using the same schedule I used for the Roman cat, and then tumbled.

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I used the same batch of Baldwin’s patina on the butterflies that I used on the vine earrings. Again, the coin is for scale.

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The butterflies resulted in a lovely wood-grain look. I intend to exploit the wood-grain look in later pieces. As you can see, the butterfly bodies are much more blue-green than the wings. That’s the way patinas are — when you patina your work, be prepared for a surprise! If you don’t like what you get, you can use heat to remove the patina and patina all over. Maybe the patina gods will be kinder next time 😉

 

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