Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shiny metals and rings!

A couple of posts ago, we promised a blog on the creation of our lovely rings. Here is what Hillary had to say:

A couple of months ago, my friend attended a painting class at Daniel Day gallery (which I may talk about more in a later blog post) and told me that the owner was looking for rings to be displayed in his gallery. I had never successfully made rings before but set out to try to make some to display and sell in the gallery.
The first obstacle was design, but it was easily overcome with a quick glance through my bead books. Once I found a suitable design, I made several with the same tarnish resistant copper wire I use for pendants.

I quickly found out that this was not suitable for rings because where they are worn means they are in constant contact with skin on several sides and that they bump up and scrape against desks, door, poles, etc. all the time. This caused the coating to wear off very quickly, which made them look tarnished, and eventually caused them to patina. While patina may be pretty and desirable even in some jewelry pieces, on a ring it means green fingers.

The next step was to try some other materials.

First was a tarnish resistant copper wire with better coating:

It was lovely because it was nice and pliable and could make gorgeous curlicues and zig zags. This copper lasted longer but the coating eventually started wearing off, giving me the same problem I had with the other copper.

The next material I tried was raw stainless steel:

This is wonderfully durable, doesn't rust, doesn't stain, doesn't patina etc. The only drawback to the steel is that it is harder to work than any other metal i've ever worked with which means no tight curlicues, loops or zig zags. However, it does have its own unique type of beauty.

The last type of metal I tried is the most unique and is one of my favorites:
Oxidized Brass.

This is brass wire that has been pre-oxidized. I rub off some of the oxidization layer with a paper towel or magic eraser before I create the piece. The oxidization is what creates the lovely "highlights and shadows" effect that you see in the metal. The extra cool thing about this is that the effect deepens over time. As the ring is exposed to the elements, the inside of the ring becomes more oxidized while the outer sections brighten as the oxidization rubs off.

The only downside to this wire is that this wire is extremely soft so the rings have to be made a certain way so as to maintain structural integrity. However, I think the slight design change is worth it for the lovely antique look that you get from this wire.

I have made several more rings from the steel and brass and hope to post them soon!
Also, if you would like to see more of my rings, check out my sterling and argentium work on my sister blog.

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