Before I started taking the jewelry and small metals class at Kennesaw State, I did have some metalworking experience. I have been making jewelry for roughly 12-13 years, but I always stuck with wire and stones. It wasn’t until I met my friend Christina over at Dreamcat Studio around four years ago that I first worked with sheet metal and fire. I made a sweet little pair of space inspired earrings. I’ll have to tell you about those sometime. Today, I’d like to tell you about the necklace you see above.
This was my first project for my small metals class. I don’t remember what the exact assignment was, but I came up with this idea of a heart and no matter how battered up it is superficially, it keeps ticking. It is a concept based off of emotional damage versus actual damage.
This piece is one that is one of my favorites. It was my first time using rivets, using enamel, and etching. I tried to learn as much as I could in this piece. The heart is etched both on the top piece and the bottom. The vintage watch gears are from broken pocket watches that I took apart. The gears are riveted on, and the top heart is tube riveted to the bottom.
The top heart is enameled with clear glass enamel. I think that was the most challenging part of this piece. The top heart is very thin, and it did not hold up great to being riveted, so a lot of the enamel cracked. This ended up adding to the overall composition of the piece, so it’s not a big deal, but it did require a lot of sanding so that I was positive that more glass wasn’t going to flake off.
Areas where the metal needed to be reinforced, I wrapped with oxidized copper wire, the blacked wire that you see. Oxidizing metal can be achieved by several different ways, but the most common would probably be using a chemical called liver of sulfur. It smells like rotten eggs, sulfur. You can actually do this by boiling eggs too, but I have never tried that method. Using that chemical is also how I got the blackened technique on the bottom heart.
The tube rivets I had a little bit of trouble with. I did not have the tool that I needed at home to set them properly, so a lot of the balled ends bent. I love the blue color I got on them though. Another jewelry fun fact: that color was achieved by immersing the metal in cat litter… soaked with cat pee. Oliver was not old enough at the time to have potent enough pee apparently, so I borrowed a bag of litter from someone in my class. Rest assured, the metal has been cleaned and there is no essence of cat pee on it. I have been doing some reading on other methods, and apparently if you just soak some litter in ammonia, it should have the same effect. I haven’t tested it yet though.