Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hip to be Square

 I am so lucky to say, I love my day job...

I teach jewelry/metalsmithing at the coolest high school on the planet. This means I am constantly exploring new materials and techniques that I can use in my classes. This past semester I began exploring with copper pipe.

Here is a tutorial on how to make my super cool and easy square rings. Once I had my squares I knew I wanted to do something to them, so I did torch fire enameling on some, and resin on some. Check it out...

Copper pipe comes in a range of sizes, for these rings, use 3/4inch.
Get a quality pipe cutter from the hardware store. Practice a few times until you can cut like a pro. A tip: go slow in the beginining until you have really established your groove. If you go too fast you won't stay in the groove.

 I cut a bunch of rings of varying heights. I like stacking rings, so I made some pretty narrow ones and wider ones. I work in batches of 6. Once you have your rings cut, you must anneal them.

Now to form them into squares, this is the really cool part. Using a square ring mandrel, slide your band on as far as it will go and use your plastic mallet.  Hit on one plane, rotate the ring, hit another plane, rotate, etc...until it is square.

You can also add texture once they are squares, by keeping the ring on the mandrel and using stamps and hammers.

For the enamel, I sifted enamel onto 1 plane, then heated up the rings from below.

Formed, textured, enameled.

For the resin rings, I explored with  paper, glitter and pigments.

Coating the paper in glue before covering in resin. At least 2 coats.
Carefully applying resin. Enough to slightly dome, not too much or it spills over.

I am pretty in love with the resin rings. The enamel ones are actually pretty soft from heating them up so they can tend to move and then you risk cracking the enamel so you need to be more gentle with them. But the resin ones are durable and water proof.

I really love making and wearing these, give it a try, if you have any other questions, feel free to send me an email.