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Torch firing on copper


#1

Hi Everyone,

I would like to know if anyone could give me some tips on torch
firing copper to bring out the great colors it gets when heated?
Every time I have tried on copper beads and findings, I begin to get
purples and reds, then it all goes black and it seems to me I have
seen copper jewelery that had fabulous colors on it. And does the
same apply to brass or bronze? i have looked through all my metals
books but have not got much info.

thanks,
Patricia White


#2

Patricia,

I believe Claire Sanford is the expert on copper patinas. I took her
class in Waltham, MA. One thing I learned is that it is nearly
impossible to duplicate consistant fuchia, purple, blue and silver
colors because of variances of temperatures and surfaces. I would
google Claire. She may have a class in the near future which is
absolutely worth taking just to see her work.

Mary A.
www.jewelryforthejourney.com


#3

The "trick " to these very thin heat formed oxide interference film
patinas is a wet rag.

You can stop the development of these by quenching and then keeping
the developed color cool. It will take some practice. On the more
active metals such as copper these colors will change over time.
Protective lacquer coating will tend to muddy the effect or kill it
altogether. Try a thin wax coating. On stainless steel the colors are
pretty well permanent without any coating…

jesse


#4
The "trick " to these very thin heat formed oxide interference
film patinas is a wet rag. This is a tease! What do you do with
the wet rag? If the answer is "quench", why a wet rag instead of a
bowl of water? 

P.S. As a complete digression, this reminds me of something that
happened when I was in college, living in a fairly poor area on the
south side of Chicago. My roommate cooked a goose. Our neighbor
across the hall, a blue-collar black mother, asked for a jar of the
grease, saying “It’s good for the children.” I didn’t have the nerve
to ask what she did with it, and my imagination has run wild ever
since.


#5

I use copper quite a bit, fold formed, torch patinated, and the
trick to getting the color you want is to be familiar with the
progression of the colors and pull the torch away before you reach
the blues or purples, if that’s what you’re after, as the heat of the
metal will continue to change the colors still after the torch is
removed. I heat and pull away the torch frequently, and still often
go beyond where I wanted. It’s a tricky dance. Then the trick is how
to preserve those colors. There was a whole thread on this sometime
back, so I won’t belabor that point.

Linda Gebert
http://homepage.mac.com/lgebertsilverjewelry


#6
As a complete digression, this reminds me of something that
happened when I was in college, living in a fairly poor area on the
south side of Chicago. My roommate cooked a goose. Our neighbor
across the hall, a blue-collar black mother, asked for a jar of the
grease, saying "It's good for the children." I didn't have the
nerve to ask what she did with it, and my imagination has run wild
ever since.

I lived in Germany for a long time and the “grease” (fat) from
cooking a goose was much prized. It was rendered and used as a spread
on bread.

K


#7

Copper is the material that I “cut my teeth on” and I am still
teething. To me it is a magical material that I can’t seem to get
past. I do not know why I am so enamored with it. I think it is the
frustrated perfectionist in me. I have to master one step before I
move on. The colors are very elusive, in my opinion. It is a matter
of “playing” with the metal, and I’ ve found that about the time you
think you’ve figured it out, it’ll come back to bite you in the butt.
I started with copper only because it was accessible, but I find my
self not being able to pull away and move beyond it. Is it the
"humble" nature of the material- most people look down their nose at
it. I showed my ex-wife ( who is still one of my best friends) some
of my copper pieces and her comment was “Yeah, but it’s just copper,
who’ll buy it?” I was flabbergasted (duh) in that it’s the execution,
the “flow”, the “essence” of the piece that matters and not the
material. My humble advice is to persist, play with it, entertain it,
love it, walk away from it ( if you can), like a relationship, you’ll
(hopefully) never figure out its intimacies, for I find them elusive,
and maybe that’s what drives me. Thank-you one and all for indulging
me. I just hope that I come to my sense at some point! (Then what?)


#8

Thank you Michael for your support on firing copper. I was one of
those people starting out that cast an evil eye down on the mere
cheapness of copper. Starting out in enamelling years ago, I began
with copper but soon tossed it to the side for the more prestigious
silver and never turned back UNTIL recently… I took a workshop
with a well known artists on the subject of enameling on copper
beads and I had an AWAKENING…

I haven’t been the same since… With copper one thing leads to
another and another…and you never know what you are going to get- I
don’t get just your basic enameled beads coming out of the kiln -
leave it in long enough to let the copper work its magic and I pull
out a bead with drama. The interaction between the glass and the
copper oxides in a l500 - l600 degree kiln is mother nature at her
very best. Then of course there are the charred scenarios too when I
have pushed the combo too far. Right now I am working on a large
piece which has two parts - one I intend to torch fire the copper,
the second piece will be enameled. Another wonderful member sent me
on a DVD that is out on torch firing on copper which I
can’t wait to sink my teeth into when it arrives.

I am still wondering about the wet rag one member suggested but
never expounded on… hmmmm

Thanks, Patricia


#9

The wet rag technique is pretty simple. It provides a heat sink
which prevents the heat and colors from going though out the metal.
It is sort of localized quenching but not true quenching since it
keeps the metal from getting too hot in the areas where it is used.
As the object gets smaller it gets harder to use but imagination in
use and practice helps.

Use smaller and smaller tips and use the rag to quick cool or keep
cool ( not really quench)… Like most reactions the film thicknesses
is a time at temperature thing. the higher the temperature the
faster it goes,and you can’t back up. It is not a linear
relationship.

These heat colors are a true oxide film but copper and silver do
react with sulfur compounds in the air to further discolor the
object. coatings can help but too thick can muddy the colors and
they may not last.

jesse