I love to mix metals in my designs, and use mostly a combination of copper, brass, nickel silver and aluminum. Sterling silver and gold are not on the list simply due to the fact that these materials are so CRAZY EXPENSIVE these days. My goal has always been to create unique AFFORDABLE jewelry. So, I stick to what I can afford, and can afford to share with my clients at a reasonable price.
There are challenges when working with "non-precious" materials. Soldering different metals together is a challenge, some heat quicker than others, some simply don't like each other and will BURN INTO ASH before soldering. Cold connecting with rivets and micro screws is my go-to method of marrying metals most of the time. It's easy, and I really love the look of rivets as accents.
One challenge I am constantly aware of (and working to overcome) is the skin reaction many people have when copper, nickel and brass touches them. Many folk's skin reacts badly with these materials, and nothing is worse than having your client's fingers and wrists turn green from wearing your work! I hate hearing from a potential client that they love a piece of my jewelry, but won't consider buying it because of skin/metal related problems. So, I work to devise solutions that are both successful and interesting.
For many, the go-to solution is layering acrylic sprays and polishes on the finished piece, which works very well, but doesn't last forever. Rings and bracelets worn consistently over a long period of time will wear away any finish that is applied. It's inevitable. Yes, you can tell people to go ahead and spray the piece with Krylon from Michael's, but that is a lot to expect your clients to do. So, I have a couple tips for those who enjoy working with mixed metals as much as I do:
For rings and cuffs made of copper, nickel or brass, I love to line the interiors with transparency film or resin paper. ArtChix Studios is a wonderful source for beautiful transparency sheets and collage sheets in just about any pattern or theme you can imagine. Butterflies, birds, text, vintage ladies and more can adorn the inside of your rings and cuffs. Simply cut to the appropriate size and either rivet in place or use a coating of jewelry resin (like Ice Resin) to adhere the transparency in place. For papers, coat paper with resin first, allow to dry, cut and rivet or resin in place as well. This will provide an impervious barrier between the metal and the wearer's skin, and add tons of interest to the piece. Unfortunately, this does not work for fine or thin wire ring bands...haven't solved that puzzle quite yet, but I'm working on it.
|Assorted papers from the Industrial Chic line. |
The bottom sheet has been coated with resin.
|A brass cuff with resin paper set on the interior.|
|A variety of aluminum cuffs. I LOVE ALUMINUM!|
|A added a strip of textured aluminum to the back of this Wolf Totem pendant. |
Simple and effective!