Saturday, March 2, 2013

Making Findings... A not quite "how to"

I didn't start out to create a tutorial on making wire findings.   I was just making some copper clasps, hammer-hardening as I always did, then realized I had quite a few this time, so I'd give the tumbler a try.  

Those are the tumbler barrels setting in the red device
 which spins them.  
 The small machine which just happens to be 
sitting in front of it is a grinder.

I bought the tumbler last year, used it once or twice, then parked it on my work bench.   Since I typically only made a couple of things at a time, hammer hardening seemed to work fine and took much less time.   

Now that I've said that, I may not make another piece without running it through the tumbler too!    

I should have been taking photos at every step, but didn't really get the idea until I saw how shiny, clean, and beautiful the pieces looked when they came out of the tumbler!   All sharp edges and tool marks were smoothed without all the time spent filing and buffing.   I just set the tumbler up with the stainless steel shot (small bits of stainless steel in a variety of shapes), just  enough water to cover the shot, and a drop or two of of "Shine Bright" cleaner.  I turned the machine on, shut the door to the room, (it's a wee bit noisy),  and went to bed. 

The next day I turned off the tumbler, used the strainer to dump the stainless steel shot and wire items out of the barrel  without loosing any bits, and rinsed it all well.   

The bright copper was so beautiful, 
I hated to do anything more to the pieces!

But alas, "antiqued" metals are more popular now,
so I used Liver of Sulfur to darken the clasps.
(For more detailed instructions on how to use
 this method to darken copper,
please see my entry on Artisan Whimsy.)

One of the clasps in use.

So far, I'm just keeping up with my own demand, but I may put a few in my store.   
  • Would anyone be interested in that or do you make your own?   
  • Do you prefer bright or antiqued copper, bright or antiqued silver, or bright or antiqued brass?

Hope your own work is going well!   Please tell us what you are up to of late!   

Warm wishes  ...(because I'm tired of this cold winter)!


P.S.  March has arrived and I'm beginning to load Celtic and green jewelry into my Sharyl's Jewelry ArtFire store!  This is one of my favorite inspirations!



Carole M. said...

oh HERE you are Sharyl; I'd missed you and your blog posts for a while it seems. Me, I really like that bright copper after coming out of the tumbler. I guess it's hard to keep it that way though? Would you seal it or does that process spoil the finish - I might imagine it would. Catch 22, leave it and it will go green maybe? Can you cloth polish the copper like you can silver?

Sharyl said...

I've slowed down a bit, Carole, but I'm still here!

You raise some excellent questions and I'll answer as best I can. You can leave the bright copper as it is, but it will eventually turn dark or green on its own. Rennaisance Wax can be applied to try to keep it from oxidizing quite so fast. It can also be applied over patina (Liver of Sulfur method)for a nice satin finish. Some metal artists will use a torch to get patina, and can come up with some brilliant hues, such as blue! There are all these options and more!

If anyone else has suggestions, please offer them!

P.S. We had a discussion on this blog about a year ago where another, more natural method, of placing copper near a hard boiled egg was suggested. I've seen that since mentioned elsewhere. My one attempt wasn't very successful, but I may have been too impatient! :-)

Kristin Oppold said...

I just got some Stainless Steel Shot from Rio and have never used my tumbler. That is the plan, thanks for sharing your experience!!!!!!

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this post! Looks like I need a tumbler, I've been putting it off, but may pick one up next time I go to town!

Unknown said...

I also love the look of the bright shiny! One of my sad attempts at wirework was trying to use the egg method. It did patina, but it was dull and very unattractive. I love these clasps!!

Sharyl said...

Thanks for all your comments!

Most folks I know with tumblers got them on sale at Harbor Freight. Unless you do loads of tumbling, a one-barrel machine is plenty. I only got the double-barrel because my store ran out of the single while on sale, and they were kind enough to offer me the 2-barrel for the same sale price! Whoopie! (That said, I nearly always use just one barrel at a time.)

One other thing to know is that the stainless steel shot for one barrel costs about the same amount as the tumbler. They do not sell the shot at HF, but you can find stores on Etsy and elsewhere that sell it. (Kristin mentions RIO in her message above.)

There are many shapes of shot. It's good to get a packet with a variety in them. Also, make sure you get Stainless Steel shot or you may have a pile of rusty stuff!

Thanks for your interest in this topic!

Pine Ridge Treasures said...

Great post, Sharyl! I am a fan of bright copper, and that is what I wear most of the time. I know that the antiqued look is very popular, so I am making more of that to sell.

aneri_masi said...

I have a ton of questions now! Where did you get your tumbler from, for how much, and how big is it? And what kind of wires have you used other than copper?

THANKS MUCH for this post, it does take away some of the mystery and intimidation I feel towards tumblers :)