Sharing my passion for handcrafted jewelry, paper making, and living a creative life.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Recycling Copper to Make Jewelry: is it worth it?

My answer to that question would be a resounding MAYBE! 

I thoroughly enjoy re-imagining pieces of junk into inspired pieces of wearable art. It also pleases me to repurpose what is already available rather than add to the depletion of our natural resources.

Bangles made from recycled plumbing pipe

My customers enjoy the back story that recycled materials create, and they also like contributing positively to the environment through their purchases.

I've been recycling copper into jewelry for the past 10 years and it has become such an integral part of my process that using purchased new copper would feel at odds with what my jewelry represents.

BUT, if saving money on materials was my only motivation for recycling copper, I probably wouldn't bother. Copper is relatively inexpensive to buy but my 'free' recycled copper costs me hours in labour that I rarely recover in the final price of my creations.

So, is recycling copper to make jewelry worth it to you?

If you want to try out recycling copper plumbing pipe, here is a free tutorial. Be sure to take all safety precautions recommended by the manufacturer of your tools. Wear a mask and safety glasses.

Cut the pipe to length with a pipe cutter, available at your local hardware store. Anneal with a torch. Quench.

Draw a guideline lengthwise with a marker.

Put the piece of pipe in a vise, horizontally.

Use a metal cutting wheel in a rotary tool (like a Dremel) and use oil to help keep the cutting wheel from overheating. I run it through some 3 in 1 oil each time I cut across the pipe. Grip the rotary tool firmly with both hands and run the cutting disk along the line you have marked, repeatedly, until it cuts through the copper. This can take awhile. Be careful of kickback, particularly as the wheel breaks through the copper. One one and half inch Dremel metal cutting disk (E-Z lock kind) lasts me through about three 8" lengths of pipe if I'm careful and lucky.

Remove pipe from vice and anneal and quench. Using pliers on both sides of cut, work the annealed pipe apart. Anneal and quench again if necessarily.  

Your next steps depend on how your sheet will be used.

I use a throat shear purchased at an automotive supply shop (Princess Auto here in Canada) to cut my sheet into strips that will fit into my rolling mill. Don't try to cut too far along the strip at a time with the throat shear, otherwise it tends to curve. Annealing and quenching as needed, I roll out my cut pieces to the gauge I want and then cut those pieces to size with my throat shear.

Please excuse my crappy phone photos. I was taking the pictures as I worked through the process and I didn't have my good camera.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hello 2021! Keep Smiling.

I join the rest of you in hoping that we soon see an end to COVID-19 and the havoc that it created in our world. When I made my plans and charted my goals for 2020, my chosen word for the year was 'Calm.' If I had only known what was ahead! My word for this year is 'Smile.' A reminder to myself to look back at each day and remember at least one moment that made me smile.

While 2020 had plenty of rabbit holes to go down, particularly on social media, I also had plenty of opportunities to celebrate life. This summer, I bought a little 10 ft pool to put in my postage stamp sized back yard so I could enjoy the peaceful feeling of drifting on water in my floaty chair whenever I felt like it. Some of my best ideas germinate in water.

We were lucky in our part of the world that we had low numbers of COVID during the summer months and could enjoy time with family outdoors. It made these recent months a bit easier to face.

I started my new year by getting my jewelry studio reorganized and refreshed. I feel like I'm starting a whole new journey in jewelry art since taking Susan Lenart Kazmer's online course, Intentional Metalsmithing. Her course has made me braver and I'm excited to see where that leads.

It's only 8x12 feet but it does the job. I do wonder what possessed me to paint the floor that colour when I work mainly in copper!  

This is a piece I made this winter while working on Intentional Metalsmithing.

I think pretty much every year I promise to do better at blogging and then the year passes and the only post I did was the one where I said I would do better at blogging this year. So we'll see. No promises.

Stay safe! Stay home. Wear a mask.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Do you want to be a jewelry artist?

I have to admit. I’m a bit of a jewelry snob. Creativity means much more to me than gold, diamonds and a hefty price tag.

That is why Susan Lenart Kazmer is one of my favourite jewelry artists. Her work is amazing! Last fall, I Jumped at the opportunity to sign up for Susan’s first 6 month Intentional Metalsmithing online jewelry course, a mentored program for beginning and advanced jewelry artists. There was no pressure to complete the course in the six month period as the videos continue to be available indefinitely. This worked well for me.

Susan is once again offering her mentored e-course, Intentional Metalsmithing. Susan teaches her techniques for creating exceptional artisan jewelry while encouraging and guiding participants to discover and use their own unique symbols and talismans in their designs.

Early bird pricing For the course ends tomorrow, July 14 but you can still sign up until July 16. The course starts on July 20. Even if you have never picked up a jewelry torch before, if you love creative jewelry, you’ll love this course!

100 Day Project - Day 2 - I quit!

As soon as I made the commitment to do this, I knew I didn’t really want to do it. One of the things that I love about retirement is having the freedom to wake up every day and decide how I want to spend the day. So why do I keep telling myself that I should do more or be more? I get done what I need to do. The rest is optional.

I was going to just delete the previous post and pretend this never happened😂 but I might as well own it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

100 Day Project - Day 1

Most of you have probably heard of The 100 Day Project #The100DayProject. You choose your own creative project to commit to for 100 days and post daily in the Facebook group.
Day 1 Getting ready
Retirement from my job away from home already meant I had lots of time to finally focus on my art and jewelry making. And now that social interaction has been restricted because of COVID-19, I have even more time. My problem has never been time, I realize now. I'm just a procrastinator.  There is always tomorrow, right?  But this pandemic is also teaching us that....maybe not.

So my 100 Day Project is to build a habit of spending time every day creating in my studio. No set times, just a commitment to do something. 100 Days to Build my Studio Habit.

Yesterday was Day 1 and I reorganized my jewelry studio to make my soldering area for jewelry more efficient. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Happy 2020! May your foresight be as clear as your hindsight.

Another whole year has gone by without me keeping my word to blog more often. I also did a really lousy job of sticking to my Depth Year for 2019. And in the spirit of my goals for the new year, I don't care. It obviously wasn't my priority.

For 2020, my goal is to play more and make enjoying life a priority. If something doesn't give me pleasure, and it doesn't absolutely have to be done, then I'm not going do it. I am 65 years old and unless something miraculous happens, I don't have a whole lot of years left to waste doing things I don't want to do. Easier said than done, I know, but I'll try my best.

I've lived in this area for over 40 years but I only recently discovered this beautiful lake less than 10 minutes from my current home. There are so many more discoveries to be made.

On summer weekdays I am often the only person there so I can sit on the dock and paint or just drift on my floaty chair in beautiful peace and solitude.
Journal/sketchbook - enjoying the summer sunshine on my floaty chair
I look forward to more of this in 2020! How about you? Do you ever feel like time is running out and you would like to be doing more for your own well being? Try using Marie Kondo's technique for getting rid of clutter and ask yourself, "Does it spark joy?" If not, let it go!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Depth Year 2019

“Go deeper, not wider.”  These are the words of David Cain at (Getting better at being human) in his first post about doing a "Depth Year." He talks about taking a year to go deeper with what you already own or know rather than acquiring more. Check out his blog for the complete post and be inspired!

Like many creatives, I have a habit of acquiring new and shiny supplies and resources when I already own more than I can possibly use in this lifetime. So I am declaring 2019, My Depth Year. My goals for the year are to not buy any new art supplies except to replace something that I have used up, to not buy any magazines or books and to go deeper to learn from what I already own, to not add any new art or crafts, and to not buy any new beautiful journals or art papers that call to me with their beautiful pristine pages and endless possibilities!

So far I have been successful for 10 days!

This is my little art area in an alcove at the top of the stairs. I had too much stuff for it all to fit in my little garden shed jewelry studio so I had to create a space for it in my house.

I love that everything is within easy reach. I'm excited to start going through my books and exploring neglected techniques and supplies.

Last January I took a free online boot camp called Jewelry Brand Makeover to help me figure out the direction I wanted to take my jewelry business. Flourish and Thrive Academy teaches jewelry designers and makers about growing a jewelry business. I went on to take their Laying the Foundation course, too. I learned a lot in both the free boot camp and the paid course and came away with so much information to use in my own business.

Now that I'm retired from my "day job", I am ready to explore further, to go deeper, in my jewelry business. I have so many decisions to make and I'm hoping to get the clarity I need by taking this year's boot camp called Jewelry Brand Marketing Hub as well as revisiting Laying the Foundation. If this is is something that interests you, here's the link I love how they are all about "Community Over Competition", jewelry designers helping their fellow jewelry designers.

Happy 2019 and cheers to you and meeting your goals for the year!