Thursday, June 30, 2011

Copper Lilac Leaf Brooch with a Fire Finish

 Well, I must say I am so excited to show you all this newest piece of jewelry that I just finished last night! About 5 weeks ago I started a metalsmithing class to learn some new techniques (and refine some old ones!) and, after taking last week off due to a stomach bug, I have now finished my first piece. This beautiful pin/brooch is made from a copper sheet which I traced my design onto (a lilac leaf in this case, with the veins in the center). I then used a fine jeweler's saw to hand saw the outline of the piece, and then punched a teeny hole in the  center so that I could saw out the veins, giving a bit more dimension to the piece. Then I used files to file the outer edges until they were nice and smooth. I then used 400, 600, 1000 and 1500 grits of wet/dry sandpaper to carefully sand in one direction, then the other, until all of the previous marks were gone. Once the marks were gone on one side, then I'd sand the other. Once both sides were done in 400 grit, I would then move onto 600 grit and so on, until it was smooth, even and soft.

I then used a spoon form to lightly hammer my leaf to give it the rounded shape and make it look more lifelike. I had to be VERY careful not to scratch my piece or I would have to start the sanding process all over again!

I then soldered sterling silver wire onto the back of the pin to make a pin and clasp section. That was the first joint I had ever soldered! The torch was a little scary (ok, it still is), as it makes a rather loud POP! when it turns on and off (it is acetylene), and I am always afraid of burning myself or the house down around me when the flames start to go, haha. I managed to do one practice solder joint, and then I did the second on the leaf. It turned out great!
Then I had a dilemma: should I go with a mirror (shiny) finish, or should I break out the torch and give it a more lifelike (though unpredictable) fire finish, using flux and the torch to burn the flux away, and then continuing to burn the copper until it makes the fire pattern you see on the pin. You then quench it in water and, once dry, lacquer it to a beautiful shine. I could have gone with the mirror finish, and perhaps in the next piece I will, but I went with the fire finish. I went with the fire finish partly as I like the more natural look of it on the leaf shape, but also because I wanted to get more comfortable with the torch in general.

I know I am probably biased, but I think it turned out incredibly well. I even signed the back of it with a flexshaft tool (like a Dremel, but thinner and with foot control). It is a pretty messy signature, but this pin, this first piece, is all MINE, and I don't mind if it looks like a 5-year-old Meghann signed the back, I know it was made by me, and I'm pretty proud of it, if I do say so myself. I would like to make more of these beautiful leaves, in copper and sterling silver, with both mirror finishes, and with the torch finish. I'll also do different types of leaves; oak, maple, birch, etc. Keep an eye out for those!


  1. i think your leaf is spectacular and you are very talented! i love to see creative blogs such as yours! ;)

  2. Thank you so much, your comments are so appreciated! Have a great day :)

  3. I LOVE the finish, and have been trying to create something similar- what flux do you use??

  4. Hey Kait, I use a homemade flux, it is just borax mixed with a little water to make a loose paste.
    Then FIRE! Use circular motions to burn it all off and then keep going! Be careful you don't melt a hole in the metal (some people have), so heat evenly. Every piece will be different though. Rinse in water, NOT pickle!



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