Sunday, March 20, 2016

Easily Distracted by Lovely Textures

Spring cleaning of my garden can sometimes take way too long.
I have a recurring problem of allowing myself to be easily distracted by the textures of dead vegetation.
Dried seed pods, ornamental grasses and leaves often make me pause to think,
"Hmmmm...wonder what this would look like if I roll printed it?"
Once that thought is there, it can nag at me until I actually test out the texture with my rolling mill.

I lucked out when I bought my rolling mill years ago at a nearby Harbor Freight.
This is not my dream rolling mill, but finding it on sale for less than $100,
I decided I could live with less than my dream.

Some dried leaves appeared to be good candidates for the mill.
Each leaf was sandwiched between 2 pieces of annealed copper.
The resulting texture was definitely worth the effort even thought the brittle leaves cracked under pressure, resulting in a disjointed imprint.
I then had to figure out how these pieces of copper leaf texture could best be used.
Brief consideration was given to cutting out discs for earrings and links,
but I decided that would not be an effective way of communicating the story of my garden's leaves.

I chose to cut out the leaves with metal shears.
After filing and sanding the edges, I tried forming one by using a couple of my swage blocks.
Once I was satisfied with the shape, I treated my prototype with liver of sulfur.
This was definitely a much more interesting project direction than my initial thought of cutting discs.

The other leaves were shaped in steps
with different profiles in the swage blocks.

The plan was to use the leaves as pendants,
so I had to consider how the connection to a chain would be made.
Again, I had an initial reaction, thinking that a wire wrapping link could do the job nicely.
My smarter, inner designer wouldn't let me go down that wire wrapped path.
I think these formed leaves have a beautiful simplicity that would be compromised by the heaviness of too much wire at the top.
The solution was to shape and cut large sterling wire jump rings that I soldered closed after threading them through holes that were drilled at the top of each leaf.

The liver of sulfur treatment was done in repeated baths,
allowing the patina to build up.
Once I was satisfied with the color, 
multiple layers of microcrystalline wax were applied and buffed with a soft cotton cloth,
creating a lustrous finish.

Now I'm ready to turn these metal leaves into necklaces
and ready to get back to cleaning out my garden.

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