Monday, June 7, 2010

Copper box pendant . . .

Special orders are an intimidating challenge and, as I've said before, I do not challenge myself enough so this project I took on after the customer and I exchanged emails and drawings until we came up with something I felt comfortable attempting. I've made lift-off box lids before and since she wanted this to open, it was the best and most logical choice. So here we go.

The idea begins as a sketch - lots of ideas get tossed out at this point and, quite frankly, some I'll just file away to use later.

Beginning with sheet copper, I first cut the sides 1/4" tall in one long strip in the total length and bent them to the basic box shape and I soldered the ends. This rectangle shape is filed and sanded until the 'bezel' sides are perfectly flat when laid on top of the copper sheet to become the front and back of the pendant.

You can see in the photo with fire that the box obviously has to be closed and this can get tricky on several levels. One, I didn't want the silver solder to flow on the outside of the copper box and show on the copper sides so I scratched the outline of the box on the backside of the pendant and placed the solder inside that line so I could fit the box on top with the solder inside the box during the soldering process. The second issue is that there must be a vent in the box so that the gas can escape - otherwise you run the risk of the box exploding. Not good.

Another note of caution here: if you're trying to photograph your soldering process, have someone else take the photos. If you try to hold both the torch and your camera, you may burn your camera . . . like I did. With a little sanding, the lens once again retracts into the camera. And that's all I'm sayin'.

Whew! Soldered!
Now comes lots of cleaning, sanding, filing. Not exactly the fun part but it is satisfying to hold this little box in your hand and turn it as you sand and love on it.
The top gets cut off very carefully around the scribed line so that it's as even as possible. A thin strip of sterling silver bezel wire is formed to fit exactly inside the rim of the cut off top so that when it is filed and sanded smooth, it will make a sweet fitting lid for the box.

Copper tubing is soldered onto the sides for the loop that will hold the chain. Everything is cleaned and sanded smooth and all file marks removed with the finest sandpaper. A sterling silver chain is oxidized and added to the loops through the tubing on the sides.

I like to finish oxidized sterling silver with a coat of Renaissance Wax just to give the black silver a bit of sheen. I buff it with an old shoe brush and I think it's ready to go. I give it the 'wear test' and wear it around my neck for a few hours to make sure the top is going to stay on and it feels nice and sturdy. I think I love it.

I email my customer with the pictures. She likes it. I'm happy and relieved. *whew*


Leah said...

oh my, this is quite lovely. and i love seeing the process and reading about the process too!

Lisa at Lil Fish Studios said...

Wow, that's a lot of work. The result is amazing though. Really beautiful stuff.

mywifesstudio said...

Very Nice. Thanks for sharing the steps you took to make this cool piece!

Boo's Jewellery said...

Fabulous. I love seeing work in progress too. Thanks for sharing it.

Nicola said...

Gorgeous box pendant -
Looks like a cute little adorable house!
Nic x

Two Dog Pond said...

WoW! Lynnie!!! That's amazing! You could put all kinds of treasures in there... love it!

Anonymous said...

This is amazing...great job. I didn't realize you cut your own cabs also. Hubby just built his own 6-station cutting and polishing machine and has been cutting cabs. He is really enjoying it.