Hello, IMHO copper is a good place to “cut your teeth,” availability
was my thing, I had it at hand. I know some frown upon it, but in
the beginning I would rather ruin a piece in copper and start over,
being out my time, than ruin a piece in silver. I realize in
comparison to gold and platinum that silver is cheap, but that’s not
what I see when I place my order form Rio from time to time for
Argentium. It was an affordable commodity that allowed me an
invaluable opportunity for growth and learning.
You definitely want to anneal first, when soft it will remind one of
stiff but pliable paper, depending on the thickness. It will develop
a hardness to a degree as it is worked. This term is all relative.
Take a several pieces, anneal to red, allow the color to fade and
quench in water. Be cautious of the piece “spraying” or splattering
when submersed, and bend and hammer away. Sense the changes taking
place as you work it… I think it is definitely noticeable. Seek
out a source for scrape if you have no supply at hand. Plumbing
jobbers may be willing to sell you scrap… same with electricians or
contractors. Offer a bit more than scrap price and you still have
your commodity at a much cheaper price than new. All perfectly
workable. The nice thing about plumbing pipe and electrical wire is
it is almost pure. If you can get a bigger diameter piece of pipe, it
is sweet to anneal, cut it open with a shears, or jewelers saw
(although the shears is “quick and dirty”) and you have a hefty chunk
to go to town with. With electrical wire, one can hammer to dimension
or thickness reasonably well, and it is a great way to develop basic
skills. One of my last copper pieces was a link bracelet, hammered
from wire and when finished, I was complimented on the solder joins
being “nearly” invisible.
Be aware that copper is a strange creature. It’ll take abuse, you
can hit it with tons of heat, and it will"smile" back at you as if to
say “that’s the best you got”? It doesn’t slump and flow like silver.
Be prepared to pickle,but I think I’ve created some rather
“admirable” objects with this material. It will allow you an
opportunity to develop hand skills at an affordable cost.
It seems a rare opportunity for me to chime in on a topic, but I
still have an affinity for my “first partner” and still incorporate
it from time to time in an item. In the situation that you describe
about feeling out of place, put it in perspective, watch, listen,
and ask, but more importantly, try… there is little more to lose
than one’s time for the most part. That is what I love about this
community, one can seek and generally find an answer or idea. Don’t
be afraid to fail… it is part of the process, one must worry when
mistakes are repeated, learn from your miss-cues.
Ok… enough from me. I will end by offering any help or advice that
I may offer off-line should you so desire. I am not an expert, but
consider myself to be experienced enough to offer feedback and
encouragement. If you have an interest, please check out my web-site
and you’ll see a gradual progression, I hope, of skill and ability in
the photos of my work. Keep the faith in yourself… don’t be afraid
to fail. peace.