It's that time of year here in Saint George, Utah where the desert nights turn cool, the days get shorter, and the leaves and foliage start to turn golden, red and brown. The changing of seasons have great effect on my jewelry making as well and my mind turns to the warm, enchanting colors of copper. Copper is such wonderful material to work; it is soft and malleable, can be annealed and soldered, forged and folded, woven and shaped in innumerable ways. And the color of copper is ever changing, like fall leaves turning to shades of orange and bronze and deep earthy brown.
Thus inspired, I sat down and began sketching a design for an autumn themed necklace.
Forging copper using the fold form technique, I fold and shape, hammer and texture and finally unfold a piece of warm copper sheet that is to become the focal point of this new work.
With the forging complete, I look to my lapidary materials and immediately descend upon a lovely piece of deep blue Lapis Lazuli; Perfect for bringing the color of the autumn sky into the work in progress. I shape a large oval cabochon of the blue material and fabricate a copper bezel cup to contain the precious gem.
My mind turns to the chain for this piece and I think of the intertwining twigs and branches of a bare autumn tree; the viking weave technique comes to mind and I set to work with heavy copper wire and weave a length of chain using the ancient technique of the Scandinavians.
I will need end caps for the chain and hook and clasp elements, so continuing the leaf theme I forge smaller leaf elements from copper using the fold form technique and solder hand forged jump rings and hook elements onto them. The end caps are leaves of course, but curled and folded into little cones as dry leaves do sometimes when they fall to the earth and are exposed to cycles of morning dew and afternoon sunshine. A copper forged leaf shaped cuff completes the set.
All elements fabricated, it is time to assemble and bring them together. The focal piece and bezel cup become one and is accented with a round wire border. A bail is forged and soldered onto the back of the leaf pendant, sized to fit the diameter of the woven chain.
The elements of the chain are assembled. The end caps are tied onto the woven cord and clasp elements are added to complete it. the pendant focal piece is added to the chain as well and the entire piece gets polished.
Desiring deeper color than what bright polished copper provides, I proceed to gently warm the copper necklace with my torch, carefully painting color onto the surface of the copper, bringing out warm tones of orange and red and purple.
The Lapis Lazuli waiting patiently to be set finally get's it's turn and is gently bezel set into the warm copper cup awaiting it, completing the pendant component of the necklace.
Nearly complete, the entire piece gets multiple coats of a protective jewelry grade finish to keep the copper from oxidizing further and protect the future owner's skin from it's oxidizing effects.
The work finished, I sit back to admire it and smile. Autumn has been wrought into a lovely artisan necklace for someone to treasure.
(This piece is sold)
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Other examples of our work using fold forming, woven chain, metals and various patina techniques:
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