You know that old phrase “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”? Have you ever had the experience of learning a skill, then not practicing it for a while and coming back to it…just to find that you had to relearn it all over again? Last weekend I had this principle amply demonstrated for me – in an entire studio full of experienced metalworkers!
The copper pendant pictured above was created with a fold-forming technique that my silversmithing teacher, Bill Churlik, and I had done about 6 years ago. After selling a copy of this piece in my Etsy store, I realized that I honestly couldn’t remember what I had done to make it. So, I drove up to Bill’s studio at Earthspeak Arts in Asheville to consult with the experts. My studio friends have a vast amount of knowledge and many years of experience – I was confident that we could work this out again relatively quickly.
The first attempt was carefully annealed, sandwiched between two pieces of brass with an iron wire to score it, and run through the rolling mill. We reannealed and began to bend the copper. The result was far from what I was hoping…it was small, squishy, and…well, FAIL.
Take 2 – Tried not annealing after running the copper – FAIL.
Take 3 – Tried bending the iron wire wider, with more space between the curves. The result was better, but the curves were still not as distinct as what we had hoped. – NOT QUITE FAIL
Take 4 – Same iron wire bend, used a jump ring mandril to create the bends. It was a WIN!!
All of this was done much to the amusement of my fellow metalworkers…nothing is quite the same as two metalworkers in a grudge match with a piece of copper! But, finally, with much cussing and fussing, several cuts from metal splinters and a voluntary time-out before tempers flared, it was finished!
I really hope my customer enjoys her new custom necklace…I know that it was a great way to spend my New Year’s Eve – in the metalworking studio, among friends who could cheer for my successes, make suggestions for improvements and help me laugh at my continuous waste of metal as I tried to reverse engineer something I had made years before. Love you, guys. Long live the rubber chicken!