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Saturday, 4 December 2010

My Crafting Process

I made another sale yesterday (yay!) and as I started to craft the items for my customer I realised that now would be a great time to take some pictures and share with you a little about how I make my pieces. In a previous post I talked about my design and selection process so this post will provide a little more detail for the middle stage in that - crafting the items.

The earrings the customer ordered
Raw Materials

I started out with my raw materials, in this case some 18 gauge copper wire and some 26 gauge golden wire.

The shaped pieces

The first stage is to measure out and cut the pieces of copper wire that I need to make the basic shape. I then use my round nosed pliers to form each piece into the right shape. Sometimes I also use cylindrical everyday objects to form larger circles and curves.

For earrings I always make both at the same time so I can make sure wires are the same length and shape for each half of the set.

Hammering the wire
The wire pieces need to be hammered so they sit flat on the surface and to reduce their flexibility. Copper wire is very soft and can be easily moulded. This makes it great to work with but is not so great in the finished product. I don't want the customer to catch the earrings on something and have them pulled out of shape. Hammering not only toughens up the wire, it also adds a texture and this can be varied depending on the shape of the head of the hammer and the angle at which the hammer strikes.

The shapes often change slightly during hammering so I always check them over and tweak any pieces back into the right shape.

Here you can see one earring assembled and
 the other ready to go

The hammered pieces are ready to be assembled. I cut small sections of the gold wire and simply wrap the pieces together in the correct place. Some pieces are much more fiddly than others when it comes to this stage. Chain nosed pliers often come in handy to pull pieces of wire through small gaps and to neaten the rows of wire and make sure they lie next to each other.

The final stage is to add the ear wire. I always make sure that the ear wire is oriented such that when the earrings are worn, one faces one way and the other faces the other.

In these pictures you can see the difference in colour between a copper piece freshly made and a piece a week or 2 old. Personally I like both the bright, shiny finish and the dull, tarnished finish to copper. Its easy to keep a copper piece shiny using the same polish you would use on sterling silver.

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