Friday, May 3, 2013

5x5 Metal Component Challenge Reveal, Chapter 2 (The square copper thing and the X)

Welcome to Chapter 2 of my 5x5 Metal Component Design Challenge Reveal
 (Chapter 1, the filigree ring, is here)

As a reminder, here are the components again:
 metal components for 5x5 challenge

After finishing my design with the filigree ring (yesterday's post), I decided to work next with the square copper thing at the bottom of this photo. I would stop calling it the "square copper thingy" if I only knew what it really was!

The location of its very tiny holes suggested it was meant to hang, like a pendant. (Although, at one point, I was so stumped I thought about cutting off those holes AND the supporting copper legs they were on, leaving just a plain copper square! I decided that would be a little too easy.) This square component was easily twice as thick as the 24g sheet copper I usually work with, for what that's worth. Thick, and heavy!

This piece really stumped me, again. But, building on my success with the blue lampwork flower and the filigree ring, I decided to see what I could find to "stick on" the pendant. I rummaged through the bead shop, and came up empty, inspiration-wise. Then I decided to dig into my super-secret stash, and I struck gold. Well, not literally - but sort of ... I found a beautiful vintage BSK earring, in green and gold.

vintage BSK leaf earring

BSK was founded in New York in 1948 and did business until the mid 1980s - the letters "BSK" stand for the initials of the three owners: Benny Steinberg, Slovitt and Kaslo. BSK was known for its colorful enamel designs, simple silvertone and goldtone pieces, and stunning designs - all at a competitive price point (the collections were widely sold in department stores, including Woolworth's.) I actually had/have both earrings AND the gorgeous matching brooch - I love the colors and design, and had squirreled them away for "later". I guess "later" is finally here!

Y'all probably know I'm big on making paper mock-ups of my metal designs, so that all my mistakes happen on paper (theoretically), instead of ruining my metal pieces. And since I only had one of these copper square thingies to play with, I decided I better experiment on paper:

I played around with clipping the earring on the paper model, and liked the result, so I decided to proceed.

The first step was to patinate the copper square so that it matched the earring. Learning from my experience with the filigree ring, I first took a rough emery board to the copper square, and roughed it up pretty well. Then I used antique gold Gilder's Paste, to get a nice brassy gold tone. Perfect! (I sealed it).

Next, I put some thought into how I would attach the earring to the copper square, and decided that I would NOT remove the earring clip - if I wired the clip to the back of the square, no wire would show from the front, leaving an unobstructed view of the pretty earring.

I placed the earring on the paper square, and marked my ideal placement for drilling holes. Good thing I did this on paper first - when I punched the holes in the paper (on either side of the widest point in the clip-on attachment) they turned out to be wider than the earring itself, so they showed from the front. Oops! I experimented a bit more with hole placement, and finally figured out the optimum placement for 2 holes, without them showing from the front.

the copper shows through where I buffed the holes - but it won't show on the finished piece!

At some point around this time, the patinated copper square, now gold, ended up next to the "X" on my workbench, and I saw that the "X" was a good size, proportionately, to hang the metal square from. (Wow, that is an awkward sentence - sorry!) I decided to figure out a way to use the "X" as a bail for the square.

The metal "X" is 78 mm long!

I had initially tried to think of other uses for the "X", and had made a paper mock-up to fiddle with. One of my ideas was to wrap it around a ring mandrel and turn it into a ring, with the ends of the X crossing on top - but it turned out to look more like some sort of weapon, and I couldn't figure out a way to de-weaponize it (that made me happy, design-wise) - so I had abandoned the ring idea.

The marks you see on the "X" in the pic above are where I decided to amputate its legs, in order to turn it into a bail. I cut them off with the jeweler's saw, and filed them with the Dremel. Then I turned the remaining legs under with roundnose pliers, to make loops for hanging. I did this because the legs were a little too narrow for me to feel safe drilling them (my first choice) - and I'm really glad I did this, because turning the ends under also shortened the "X" to a perfect size.

In the process of turning the ends under, I got some pretty ugly tool marks on the right side of the "X" (the left side in the pics) - I tried to remove these by buffing/polishing with the Dremel and my radial disc attachments (these things are THE BOMB):

Dremel with radial discs

The disc colors correspond with different grits, so you use them sequentially from coarsest (yellow) to finest (green).  They'll buff out scratches, remove firescale - I love them! You can get a brilliant, mirror shine with these babies! When I touched the yellow discs to the "X", they instantly removed whatever coating was giving the "X" its antiquey brass color, revealing a rich bright gold that perfectly matched the patina I'd applied to the copper square. Wow.

The "X" before buffing/polishing, next to the patinated square

After polishing the X, I remembered I needed to drill holes in its center to hang the copper square, so I drilled those holes, and went back and rebuffed and polished the middle of the "X" again.

you can still see the tool marks (at far left) - but they aren't too bad

Here is how the pendant looked after I wired the earring to the square, and then wired the square to the "X" (adding a couple of palace green Swarovski crystals for a little flash).  (I had to use 24g wire to connect the square to the "X", because the pre-drilled holes in the square were so small):

 front of BSK leaf pendant

the back of my BSK leaf pendant (formerly, the "copper square thingy")

The square and the X looked like brushed gold! So shiny - I love them (Sorry, Heidi and Joan - I gotta have the shiny!)

OK - the hard part was done - now to make a necklace for this pendant.

I wanted to pull out more green, and had some beautiful irregular tourmaline nuggets that were perfect. I didn't have any brass chain, and the gold chain I had didn't really match, and I didn't want to string or weave anything ... so after some thought about how to convert brass wire into a necklace, the light bulb finally came on: Girl, you DO know how to cut jump rings and make chainmaille, don't you? Duh.

I haven't done chainmaille in 2 years. No wonder I almost forgot! And I LOVE chainmaille! (except for the ring-cutting part.)

I cut several hundred brass rings, and decided to weave a byzantine chain, since it is the easiest for me to incorporate beaded links:

chainmaille and tourmaline necklace with vintage leaf pendant

brass toggle clasp for chainmaille and tourmaline necklace

So there you have it: the copper square thingy and the dreaded "X" components. Done! 3 components down, 2 to go!

OMG I am long-winded.

Oh yeah - almost forgot. This necklace (and the matching bracelet and earrings) are available in my Etsy shop!

Tomorrow: Chapter 3: the copper disc with the weird cut-outs.

Looking for Chapter 1 (the filigree ring)? - here it is! 

And don't forget to check out our feature in the May Issue of Bead Chat Magazine (we're on pages 21-26):


BackstoryBeads said...

This one still takes my breath away, Lesley. Your craftmanship is amazing, and I love reading about (and learning from) your design process. After seeing this in person, I have to say that your photos just can't capture how gorgeous it really is!

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks, Karen - I wish I could take better photos!

Dee Clark said...

I love this so much - I am blown away at how creative you are and the blog was so interesting. Yay!

Sweet Freedom said...

Thanks, Dee!