Monday, September 23, 2013

Hoop Boot Camp: Filling the Void - By Karen McGovern

This is my first boot camp post ever!  The theme is hoops, and I decided to show you one of my favorite designs--a hand constructed copper wire hoop, centered with a cold connected, gorgeous copper enamel disc by MaryAnn Carroll.  I use this design in many ways--as a pendant, as a bail, and as a connector, earring dangles, etc.  It's lovely, easy and super-versatile!

So, let's get busy!

For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be making a simple, stand-alone pendant.  You will need:

Wire snips or wire scissors
4.5 inches of 14 gauge copper wire
3 inches of 14 gauge copper wire
1 one-inch enamel copper disc with a 1/16th hole in the center
Decorative bead(s) with 1/16th holes (I used a textured aluminum disc and a nugget of turquoise)
1 brass micro screw and nut
Micro screw driver
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Easy Solder sterling silver solder paste
Solder pick
Dremel or flex shaft with a 1/16th drill bit or EuroPunch tool
Flat file
Round end hammer or riveting hammer
Solder block
Hand held micro torch
Quench pot with water
Pickle pot
Sanding sponges
Polishing cloth

Hammer flat and wide one end of the 3-inch length of wire and drill or punch a 1/16th hole in the end. File flat the ends of your 4.5-inch length of copper using a flat file, and form a nice, round hoop.  I use a ring mandrel, or any round thing that fits the wire (bottle tops, pipe, whatever I have handy).  Once the hoop is formed, place it on a solder block and leave the ends slightly apart.  Fit the drilled wire in the gap, centering the end with the hole inside the hoop (overlay your enamel disc to make sure it will be nice and centered inside the hoop and the holes line up).  Make sure all the wires fit snug and flush.  Add a dab of Easy Solder paste where the wires meet and fire with the torch until the solder flows.  Pick up with flat nose pliers (careful, it's screaming HOT),  quench and pickle for about 15 minutes.  Rinse, file away any excess solder and polish to your liking.  At this point  you can also texture and patina the hoop any way you like.  Copper is great to patina in heat, and the colors you see here in the finished pendant were achieved using only my micro torch.  Seal with wax or spray acrylic, whatever you like.  Next, place the enamel disc and decorative beads on the micro screw, feed the screw through the hole in the center wire and attach the nut on the back.  Make sure to tighten the screw well.  Snip off the excess screw length down to about 2mm, the place the whole thing face down on a bench block.  Hammer the end of he screw flush with the nut, flaring the excess so the whole assembly is fixed in place.  Use a round head hammer or riveting hammer for this.  Finally, hammer the remaining wire end flat or blunt and bend it over using round nose pliers to form a looped bail.  Trim the wire as needed to create whatever type bail you like.  You can wire wrap this or squeeze it tight with flat nose pliers.  I simply looped the wire over the fat part of my round nosed pliers and squeezed it tight together with flat nose pliers.

 
Clockwise:  Bits and pieces, setting up the wire for soldering,
lining up the disc with the center wire, adding a dab of Easy Solder paste
Clockwise:  Firing wires together, the hoop after pickle and heat patina, assembling the
disc stack onto the micro screw, view from the back prior to fixing in place with the nut.
View from the back after the nut is attached, trimmed and flared, below that
using round nose pliers to bend the wire to create a bail, and the finished pendant.
Voila!  You now have a cool pendant with endless possibilities.  Go bigger, or smaller. Make it in brass or silver wire.  Fill the center with stacks of flat beads, layers, resin papers, whatever!  Add dangles below (which I plan to do with this pendant), leave the bail end wire longer and add more beads before bending to form the bail, curve and twist the wire into a super-fancy bail, whatever you want!

If you make this, please share photos and let me know what you think.  Enjoy your hoops!!

**Note:  For the pendant pictured here, I went a step further and soldered a nugget of sterling silver to the head of the micro screw prior to assembling.  Sometimes I like the industrial look of the screw head showing, but wanted a more organic look here.  Just dabbed a bit of Easy Solder to the tip of the screw, used a third hand to hold it to the nugget and fired with my micro torch.  This is a simple, quick way to give the screw an upgrade!

Sources: 
Easy Solder Paste, Cool Tools
Enamel Copper Discs, MaryAnn Carroll
Copper Wire, Etsy, Rio Grande, Objects and Elements, Home Depot
Micro Screws, Objects and Elements
Micro Torch, Etsy, Objects and Elements, Amazon

3 comments:

Artisan Beads Plus said...

That is a GREAT looking pendant!!! Thanks for sharing this tutorial :o) I am always amazed at how your transform those discs into something unique every time.......

stacilouise said...

really great post! you really went into such detail. thank you for giving our readers such an in depth project to try!!!

Vintage Crab Jewelry said...

Wonderful pendant!

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