Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The New Chocolate

I'm sure you have heard the rumor: orange is the new black.

Well, I would like to start a couple rumors of my own: Caramel is the new chocolate, and,...copper is the new silver.

I have been a jeweler and metalsmith for a long, long time, and I have always been a silver fanatic. It feels like it was just yesterday that silver was $6 an ounce...sigh...

Honestly, the price of silver has forced me to re-evaluate my metal options, but it's not just the cost that has me embracing the almighty copper. Copper has so many positive attributes. Here is a list of a few of them:

-It's malleability makes it an excellent choice for wire working, especially if you don't have access to a torch.

-The fact that it can be purchased in a hardware store, rather than having to buy through a specialty jewelry store makes it so much easier to access.

-The green stains it leaves on your skin is not at all bad for you, in fact, some would argue it's actually good for you, that we need copper in our bloodstream.

-The low price enables artists and jewelers to experiment, explore and play with form, without worrying about the cost.

-Copper can be exchanged for money at your local metal exchange site.

But, what about the way it looks? I have to admit, I really only love the look of copper when it has been patina'd. I patina all of my copper with Liver of Sulphur, and it is this final step that makes the copper so cool looking. I love how dark it can become, and I love creating a high contrast between my lights and darks. Copper can be very dramatic. It also looks terrific next to other colors, such as beads and found objects.

In honor of my adoration if copper, and in celebration of copper being the new silver, I have done a copper hoop tutorial. You can see it on the My Craft Kingdom blog. Here is a sneak peek at the hoops:

In the tutorial I will go over the basics of this beaded wire wrapping technique with the simple hoop on the far right. It's not a technique I invented, and that simple hoop has been done a lot. I really believe however, that every idea has a zillion other ideas connected to it, so I encourage readers to explore a variety of options, such as I did with the other versions. Take a pre-existing technique, and make it your own, find your own voice in it.

I do see more and more copper jewelry these days, and I hope that our conception of copper continues to broaden. I for one see a visual relationship between copper and caramel, and I am so in love with these sweet hoops, I would eat them like candy if I could.