In writing this post for today, I did a quick search through this blog and realized that copper tubing has been used many, many times by the LMAJ artists...hoops, clasps, focals, bezels, bangles, beads, etc. It is a wonderful material - widely available at your local hardware store - and, it is inexpensive. Here is my latest venture using this most versatile metal - bead connectors/links.
Before I start here - please wear eye protection when sanding and drilling metal! I also wear a respirator so that I do not breathe in any little fine particles of metal. (This is the respirator I use - with these filters). I only have one pair of eyes and one set of lungs.
Grab some copper tubing - my sample below is manufactured for use in refrigerators - 1/4" wide.
This is my tube cutter - $7.00 at Home Depot and found on a hook right next to the tubing!
I know it has been addressed before on this blog, but it so simple to use this tube cutter. Slip your tubing into the cutter and use the knob (orange, in this case) to tighten the grip.
Rotate the little tube cutter around the tubing - each time, tighten the knob just a bit more. After several rotations - the tubing is cut and NOT squished! You can also use your jeweler's saw...but honestly...this is so simple!
I cut 7 soon-to-be links 7/8" long.
We are going to flatten these tubes with a hammer, which makes for a nice thick (but not too thick) link. Now, these are tiny links, and it is hard to flatten a small, round piece of metal without the tubing rolling and/or hitting the fingers. I hold one edge of the tubing with my parallel-action pliers (example- here), and hammer the other end on my bench block. Then, hold the now-flattened side with the pliers, and hammer the other end of the tubing flat.
The beauty of using tubing vs. copper sheet is that once flattened, the sides are nicely rounded and smoothed and you now have a nice heft to the metal.
At this point, I use a series of files to slightly round the edges and corners. Sanded correctly - there is NO VISIBLE SEAM on the ends of the copper.
|Prior to sanding|
I like to add texture to these connectors using hammers or stamps. Texture takes better to softened metal, which has hardened from the flattening. So, I do a quick annealing of each link, air-cool, and pickle clean. Anytime I will be adding texture to my metal, I do not quench the metal after annealing - there is a risk of the metal becoming brittle from the shock of the water.
Next, I mark the holes on either end with a sharpie and give a starter tap with my nail punch.
You can use a hole punch to make the holes, but my drill was already set up in my flex shaft. Again, I am holding the link with my parallel-action pliers and drilling into a block of wood. Be sure to drill slowly...nothing worse than flying metal!
Using the drill bit will produce little burrs in the holes.
De-burr the holes with a small, round needle file.
For today's example, I am adding texture via a stamp. I always tape my metal to my bench block first.
If using the connectors for a bracelet, I like to add a slight curve to each link, using my bracelet bending pliers (example here). I love this tool - one quick squeeze, and it's done.
The slight curve allows the links to conform to the wrist...just a bit better fit than if left flat.
Connect the links with jump rings and a claps of your choice. All ready for patina and tumble!
By varying your textures, the options are endless! The bracelet below features 7 links - each with a different texture.
This bracelet features textured links, with a tiny, sterling silver flower made from my shot plate soldered to the center of each connector. I also used sterling silver jump rings (soldered closed for security) to make this a true, mixed metal bracelet.
These bracelets fit like a dream!
I think these connectors would also make a pretty cool chain, or earrings, too. The uses are only limited by your imagination!
Thanks so much for stopping by today!