Friday, March 31, 2017

How to Apply a Borax Patina on Copper

Hello everyone!

Yesterday I made a post about how to apply an ammonia patina to copper. In that post I mentioned a borax patina that can be done quickly and easily, so I decided to write up this little how-to :)

I love this method because it's fast and easy and produces some lovely colors, like the ones in my Copper Heart Earrings. If you like instant gratification as much as I do, then this technique is for you!

Materials and Tools
  • Borax (can be found in the laundry/household cleaners aisle in the grocery store - look for it on the bottom shelves)
  • A small container for the solution you'll mix up, I use a ramekin
  • A soldering/heat proof surface. I use a charcoal brick atop a fire brick
  • A torch - I use a small butane torch
  • A pair of cross-lock tweezers
  • Very hot water (not boiling hot, but as hot as you can get it from your faucet)
  • A piece of copper, of course :D

The first thing you have to do is make sure your copper is clean. Some scrub with a toothbrush and Dawn soap, but I just wipe it down with some rubbing alcohol and that seems to work fine.

Once your piece is cleaned, set it aside and mix your borax solution. In your small container/ramekin, pour in some very hot water (again, not boiling, but it should be a little too hot to the touch). Then, sprinkle in your borax. I personally put a ton of borax in my solution- often so much that not all of it dissolves in the water- I like to super saturate the water with the borax.

You want to work a little quickly here because you don't want your borax solution to cool off too much. Take your copper and set it on your heat-proof surface, and make sure your cross-lock tweezers are handy. With your torch, heat the bejeezus out of your copper. You want to heat it until it glows cherry red. Quickly grab your cross-lock tweezers and use them to grab the piece of copper, and quench it in your borax solution. You want to work fast because you want your copper to be as hot as possible when you quench it.

When you quench your copper, something pretty cool happens! When you first dunk it in the borax solution, the copper will hiss as it cools down rapidly and will turn kind of gray-ish. But just a moment after that, you hear another hiss and can literally see the red patina appear right before your eyes! This is my favorite part, haha! Ive made a video just so you can see how satisfying that double hiss is! :D

I hope you found this little guide helpful! The really great thing about this method is if you don't like the patina you end up with, all you have to do is toss it in the pickle pot for awhile and it will come back copper colored so you can retry your borax patina as many times as you like until you achieve the look you want.

For now I'll leave you with a pic of me holding my mom's kitty Jinx on the day we brought him home. :)

Til Next Time!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

How to Use Ammonia and Salt to Patina Copper

Hello everyone!

Lately I've been playing with various techniques of applying patinas to copper. I'm having a blast playing with heat patinas and borax patinas, but I get the most satisfaction from ammonia and salt patinas.

I thought it might be fun to do a little tutorial on the way I apply patina to my pieces. I'll focus on ammonia and salt patinas for now. They are deceptively easy to achieve! Let me walk you through my process :)

  • The copper piece you want to patina 
  • A plastic container, for example one of those disposable food storage containers. It must have a lid! I use a large one but a smaller one would work just fine; but it must be a container you're willing to sacrifice and never use to store food in again
  • Ammonia - all I could find at the store was the lemon scented kind but it works just as well as plain old ammonia
  • Table salt
  • Wire - I use 20 gauge base metal wire
  • Something pointy and metal that can be heated - I use an old needle file
  • A small cheap paint brush

The first step is to create your fume container out of your food storage container. Use your pointy tool/needle file, and hold the tip over a flame to make it hot. Then use it to melt a hole in the side of your container. Melt two more holes beside the first one and try to make them even. Repeat this on the other side of the container, making sure it's directly across from your first set of holes and also at the same height as the first holes.

Now, take a few lengths of wire and feed them through the holes, one side to the other. Bend down the excess wire so it doesn't slide right back out. Repeat for the other two pairs of holes. In my container below, you can see the three wires spanning the width of my container.

At this point, pour in a little ammonia. You don't need a lot! I have maybe a centimeter of ammonia in my container. It's the ammonia fumes that interact with the salt and produce the patina, not the liquid itself, so you don't need a lot.                    

Ammonia fumes are very, very strong and are not something you want to be inhaling. It can also hurt your eyes, so please work in a very well ventilated place with safety goggles!

Next, take your copper piece and paintbrush and brush it with some of the ammonia, then set it on top of the wires in your fume container so it's suspended above the ammonia. 

Next, while the piece is still wet, sprinkle a VERY generous amount of table salt onto your piece.

Now comes the waiting. Put the lid on your fume container and carefully move it to a place where it will not be disturbed.

You'll notice after a little while, the salt has turned blue! It's an encouraging sign, but don't get too excited - at this point the blue is only on the salt, not the copper piece beneath.

After leaving the whole assembly alone for awhile, the patina on the copper will slowly build. This takes time; I usually leave my items in the fume container for three days, although you can go longer if you like.

Once the three days are up, it's time to remove your piece. Rinse off the salt crust with a little water, and take a look at your gorgeous patina!

At this point I use a couple coats of ProtectaClear to protect and preserve the patina. Now you're ready to use your patina pieces in whatever jewelry project you have in mind :) Here's another example of this method:

I hope this little mini tutorial is useful! Next I think I'd like to document the process of adding a borax patina to your copper pieces, as I've done here with these earrings:

It's a great method that gives a lovely mottled red color to your copper, and an added bonus is there's no waiting for days for it to develop, it shows up right away! :)

For now, I'll leave you with my sweet boy Neo, keeping me company in my studio (my cats are so spoiled, they get their own little pillow to sit on on my work table! But mainly I put it there because otherwise they like to hop up and lay right down on the table on top of all my work! haha)

Til Next Time!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Experimenting with Exciting New Equipment

Hello everyone!

A few weeks ago I found myself frustrated. I love working with wire, but wrapping just hasn't been doing it for me lately. I've wanted to learn advanced metalworking techniques for years, but this time I decided I was going to buy the equipment needed to start making soldered copper jewelry.

I made a list of all the things I'd want and need for soldering, figured out which items I would need right away, and then I priced out each item I needed that was available from Amazon. There are still things I need to buy but they could wait a little bit. From there, I comparison shopped for a couple of days at Rio Grande, Rings & Things, and Fire Mountain Gems to try to bring my costs down. I got my list down to a bit over $100. I couldn't afford that, so I spent a long time doing paid surveys! Over a few weeks I joined a number of legit survey sites and little by little accumulated the money I needed. I also did two 'mystery shops' at a diner for a significant chunk of money.

When I finally had enough, I ordered what I needed and eagerly awaited their arrival!

I got a cute little pickle pot and a pretty nice torch-

...a fire brick (which arrived broken, actually, but it ended up being a lot bigger than I thought it would be so I didn't actually mind that it broke - my studio space is not large so it actually works out that now I have two smaller bricks.)

My pot, brick, and torch arrived before my solder did, so for the first day with my new equipment, I focused on practicing balling up lengths of copper wire, getting a feel for the torch and how the copper behaves when it's hot. I had drawn out a little design to attempt a pair of earrings, each earring consists of two different lengths of wire balled up at the ends. It took quite a few attempts to get two pairs of wire in matching lengths with balled up ends. I got a little frustrated because I worried I was using too much wire, but then realized that my failures would probably make for pretty decent headpins for future projects, so I kept them :) 

I discovered that sometimes little bits of hot copper can jump away and land on your sketchbook! After this, I moved my book very far away from my work surface.

I also learned that hot metal can melt a plastic worktable quickly! After this, I located a large stone tile to use on top of my table.

After much practice and experimentation, I was left with four components, two each for each earring.

The next day, my solder arrived. I made up a few jump rings and soldered one to one of my earring pieces...

...and was beyond thrilled when I completed my first soldering! It was so satisfying to see the two little bits of solder suddenly melt and flow. I soldered the other wire piece and another jump ring on and was left with a sort of fleur-de-lis design. Time to pop it into my cute little pickle pot!

After pickling, it came out coppery again.

Here it is after a bit of filing, a bit of hammering, and a bit of sanding.

At this point, despite all the hammering, this is very soft - annealed copper is like butter! For now my earrings stay in this form until I can afford a rawhide mallet and a dremel/flex shaft. So, it's back to surveys for me! If anyone is interested, I can post referral links to the sites I like best that are legit and pay through Paypal.

I'll leave you now with my mom's cat Vinnie, who knows there's canned food in this box! :P

Til Next Time!

Friday, March 4, 2016

200 Facebook Likes Giveaway! *CLOSED*

Hello Everyone!

I'm thrilled to announce that we've hit 200 Likes on Facebook! I promised another giveaway when we hit that number and here it is! 

The Prize

The prize this round is a pair of my handmade "Sapphirus" earrings! These are truly 'statement' jewelry- they're long and glamorous and have tons of movement. As always, all the weaving here is done by hand including the hand-hammered custom earwires. I had a lot of fun making these! I rarely use blue in my designs but these are a departure from my 'usual' :)

You can enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below.

This giveaway begins today, 3/4, and ends at 11:59pm on 3/18. I'll announce the winner here on the blog, over on the Malfait Luciu facebook page, and by email. The winner must respond to the email within 48 hours with their home address so I can mail out the prize; after 48 hours without a response, a new winner will be chosen at random.

I'm so excited to see who will win! Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me this far - you're the best! After this giveaway is over, I'll run the next giveaway when I reach 350 Facebook likes, so do feel free to share; I love running these and the more my page is shared, the sooner I'll be able to run another giveaway! :)

Thanks much, and Good luck! <3

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

65 F in the Middle of December!

Hello everyone!

I know it's been awhile, but i haven't been in the best health lately. But I feel pretty damn good now.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, winter is my favorite season. So imagine my disappointment every time i go outside and it's too warm for a jacket!

Then some people are opposite. More than once I've seen people out and about wearing full winter coats and scarves. I don't think I'll ever understand that, lol

Anyway, since it's that time of the year, and because I have no new pieces to post, I've rounded up a bunch of winter-themed jewelry :D

First one, from Mill Lane Studio. I love that the trees are red and the drops are green.

This design is from Beadaholique. I doubt they'd take more than 10 minutes to put together, but I really dig the beads they used for the skirts!

These are so delicate! Bead caps are used as the 'bell', and those bows are just gorgeous. Great for formal occasions I think!

I can't tell you how much I love this design! The cube stacks for the candle and a little swarovski bicone on top for a flame. These are from Spoilt Rotten Beads and I think they're so creative!

From Cook, Love, Craft, a free tutorial for these sweet little christmas trees :D

So, silly me forgot to write down the URL to get a tutorial for these earrings. BUT I did find something like it that is the same concept. I imagine you'd need a longer headpin to make up for the added height of the third cube. (If anyone can contact me regarding the person who actually made them, I'd appreciate it) 

A lovely friend of mine sourced these; it's another Beadaholique free tutorial

And finally, sweet little clusters of hunter green bicones and sparkling faceted red 'berries'. I was unable to find a source for these, if you know who made them, please let me know :)

And lastly, these swaro santa earrings are possibly the cutest thing I've seen in a long time! A free tutorial is available at Bead World Inc.

That's all for now :) Today I'll leave you with my sweet sleepy Neo. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Fishtail Pattern - Finished, but not by Me!

Hi everyone!

I just had to post the coolest thing that happened only recently. Some of you may recall my free beaded Fishtail tutorial

I had planned to complete the design, but just never really got around to it.

But thankfully for me, someone else did! Amy Bradley contacted me on the Malfait Luciu Facebook Page. She showed me a fishtail bracelet she'd made, but she'd also finished both ends and a clasp. Her chosen color palette is just perfect, too.

Isn't it gorgeous? I love those little green fringe beads and the very pretty way she created the sort of 'checkerboard' effect on both ends to finish them off.

Thank you so much, Amy, for showing me your work! And to anyone who uses any of my free tutorials, I do hope you'll share your work to me! Post your completed pics on the Malfait Luciu FB page, and I'll feature them here on the blog. Got a variation you tried out? Show me! I hope at one point I'll be able to dedicate a page on this blog specifically from works by others :)

Thanks again, Amy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Goodbye Autumn Jewelry

Hello everyone!

I have been very busy yesterday and today working in my brand new studio space. It's the only space in the house that I feel really belongs to me, and I have some plans to spruce it up some (it IS in an unfinished basement, after all). However, when I visit my mom for Thanksgiving, she's giving me a nice rug to spread on the concrete floor, and I'm going to bring home my massive poster of Trent Reznor (this thing is enormous, my love gave it to me a very long time ago when we were just friends). It was looking rough, ragged edges, etc. But at the time I worked at a framing shop, so I sent it out to get mounted on acid-free foam core with a simple bronze frame. Well, I know exactly where that's going! There's a space on the wall right in front of my work table that is the perfect size for my massive poster of teh sexxiest guy ever :P

Not at all to say I'm not thrilled with the space (I spent a good five hours there today working on a ring I'll put up elsewhere in this post - and with a free tutorial that I should complete by tomorrow, stay tuned!) But I'd love to hang a curtain to hide this one spot in the corner that I'll never use and is an eyesore, and also I'd love a big comfy chair or small loveseat to relax and take a break from the wire a bit.

I've been working with my wire so much these past two days that my fingertips hurt! He'

Cannot for the life of me get a good photo of this but I love it and I finally used my seafoam green wire that I have literally owned for years and never used. Plus there are two teeny tiny pink montees on either side of the bead (which sparkles like craziness).

I've got the photos taken for a tutorial, just have to edit them and then post them, hopefully tomorrow.

❦  ❦  

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I was born for winter. I look forward to cold temperatures the way people can't wait for the hot summer sun. But even though I love winter, I do think that autumn is just too damn short.

So, to 'keep the memory of autumn alive', I'm running a sale on the Fall-themed items in my shop, all marked down for you!

Looking for a statement necklace? This design is available in two colors, brown and bright copper. They're actually quite sturdy, although they look delicate. My favorite parts are the pair of acorns each pendant features - each necklace has one brown glass acorn and one champagne colored Swarovski pearl.

These were $25, but with my Goodbye Autumn Sale, they're only $18 each! Does bright copper draw you in? Or maybe you're more inclined to deep rich brown?

How about a sweet pair of acorn earrings? These faceted glass beads each have their own Vintaj acorn top (quite easily the cutest little finding I've ever seen). These were $10, but for the Goodbye Autumn Sale, they're a steal at $6!

A pair of lucite, somewhat translucent rich brown leaves affixed to hairpins? These are decorative hairpins, not bobby pins. They're intended to adorn hair that is already in an updo. An easy, unusual hair accessory that people will notice! They were $6, but for the Goodbye Autumn sale, they're only $4!

Prefer traditional bobby pins instead of hair pins? My Autumn Palette barrettes are just the thing to add a little touch of fall. These were $7.50 but for the Goodbye Autumn sale, they're only $5!

Today in one of my boxes I found some old lucite leaves and a bronze circle finding. It's laying out on my desk right now in this configuration, but I haven't decided on a design yet. The leaves feel wonderful in your fingers, you'll love their weighty look but light feel. We'll see what I come up with with these!

Today, I'll leave you with Trinity's single white toe <3

Til Next Time!