Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book Review - Copper Jewelry Collection

By on Thursday, January 01, 2015 3 Comments

We often think of copper as the metal to use when we are practicing. But it is a beautiful metal in its own right and deserves to be used in final jewelry pieces. Those who can wear this metal should count themselves lucky! While British scientists have shown wearing copper bracelets do not relieve pain from arthritis, there is something truly beneficial about copper. Copper and its alloys are natural anti-microbial substances (see my past post Copper is Not Just for Jewelry). It actually inhibits the growth of bacteria.  So it is not just a good looking metal for jewelry making!

I just received this book from Kalmbach Publishing for review : Copper Jewelry Collection: Versatile Projects to Expand Your Skills whose focus is entirely on this popular metal.  The book is divided into 3 sections. There are 8 techniques in the first and 10 projects in the latter section all of which are instructed and written by different designers. The Basics review is a quick overview of techniques covered in the main parts of the book

The book is about mostly metal work techniques with some wire work. Although the book itself has ratings for beginner, intermediate and advanced, the easier projects are still beyond someone just starting out.  So a more realistic target group would be intermediate to advanced jewelry makers.

The order in which the techniques were presented in the first section could have been better as some of the intermediate ones like enamel sgraffito and the wire weaving were found interspersed with the beginner ones ahead of basics like patination, hammering, sawing and piercing. Also note tube and nail riveting is covered mostly in the Project section and under Basics Review.

Every technique and project page, bar one, had helpful headings to indicate which types of techniques are needed. The single omission, an unusual occurence for this publisher, was for Joanna Gollberg's project involving texturing, sawing, filing and riveting.

One of my favorite techniques from the book was the one about air chasing - a clever way of chasing and doing repousse work on fold formed metal first developed by Charles Lewton-Brain some 30 years ago.

There are different ways to produce a subtractive design (sgraffito) - a top layer which has been scratched to reveal parts of the layer(s) below.  Although the sgraffito technique taught in this book covers enamel on copper, there is no reason why the general idea could not be applied to other jewelry materials for eg layers of polymer clay.

Each of the instructors had tips to offer. For example, Angelo Gerhard, who covered sgraffito, had some suggestions on how to make both simple soldered and solder free toggles

Another excellent part of the book is Pat Gullet's Patina. Her two page chart on what etched copper looks like after patination and colorization with different products is very helpful.
The experienced instructors were definitely a font of useful information.  I always thought one had to use a torch to heat patinate copper but Mary Hettmansperger showed in her Woven Window project an oven can be used too!

Different ways of copper etching are covered in the book. Even for the easiest form, the one using ferric chloride, the instructor showed there is yet more to learn as she demonstrates how to use Press-n-Peel paper effectively for image transfer.

Not keen on chemical etching? Ron Pascho covers acid free or electrolytic etching which involves just a D battery, saltwater and a few other simple things such as some aquarium equipment to help bubble the mixture.  Correct disposal of chemicals and  the used electrolytic solution which is enriched with copper salts is required. All the instructors addressed disposal issues on what to do or who to call.

A couple of the bangle projects involved a flattened copper pipe one (not shown) and Vicki Cook's 4 G (very, very thick) wire bangle wrapped with metal clay is inspiring!  The combination of copper with silver is awesome!

There were 3 wire designs for the project section with the wire woven one as the most challenging.

The metalworking techniques were indeed masterfully introduced by some very creative artists indeed. The book is packed with all sorts of details and information so every word of the greater amount of text given is to be carefully read, and the nuggets gleaned.


Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. I love working with copper. It is a beautiful metal. It is easy to manipulate and takes colouring so beautifully. It also looks wonderful with so many semi-precious gems. It's really one of my favourite metals.

    I had looked at this book advertised many times and never thought of buying it.

    But now with your review - that has definitely changed!

    I had no idea it wasn't just for beginners and had so many different designing elements in it.

    It will go on my list for sure now Pearl! Thank you once again for another great review!

    1. Did you purchase this book? What do you think?

  2. Actually, Aims, if you read my review carefully, this book is more geared towards intermediate to advanced jewelry makers. Although some of the basic metal smith techniques like sawing, filing are fine for beginners.