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Etched Copper: Sun-Moon-Sun set.

July 2, 2011

Here is a copper jewelry set I prepared for the birthday of a friend of mine.

I generally start by shaping the copper pieces and, later, I decide the design to put on them. This is because I normally prepare various pieces of copper in one batch, in different shapes and sizes, and afterwards (weeks or months later) I use them. In this case, the pieces comes from a copper tube, cut and straightened; the flattened tube has then been hammered on a piece of concrete (!!). This may seem strange, but I found that using a rough surface instead of the smooth anvil body gives the piece a texture (visible in the image below) which persist even after etching (due to the uneven hardness of the copper).

The shape of the earrings suggested a symmetrical pattern and, to better use the entire surface of the earrings, i decided to go with an off-center design. The sun, drawn like in old woodcuts, looked like a perfect choice. I did not want to replicate the sun design also on the pendant, and decided to go with a moon (which better fitted the aspect ratio of the piece) and some stars to fill the unused space. the final effect, when the set is worn, may be seen as a sunset, a moon-lit night and the dawn.

I used a chemical etching (see my previous post) process to carve the design. As a resistant I used a felt tip pen (the kind of very small-tipped pens used in technical illustration), manually sketching the design on the pieces and then filling the not-to-be-etched areas. As the pen point is small, to cover the design I had to pass many times over the surface with the pen. The result was a sightly uneven ink coverage which, coupled with he roughness of the initial surface of the pieces, led to a “sketchy”, non-solid look (see below). While (I must admit) not completely intentional, I believe the final appearance goes extremely well with the design.


To give depth to the piece, I coated the pieces with Giudaic Bitumen, let them dry completely and, finally, lightly sanded the raised areas to reveal the copper again. A small bronze-like chain and nickel-free earrings loops completed the set. Working time: from the copper tube to the hammered pieces, 2 hours, for the etching, 30 minutes drawing the design and applying the resistant plus 1 hour bath (30 minutes in the bath for the earrings and 30 for the pendant), cleaning, antiquing, mounting, 1 hour.


From → Jewelry, Project

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