Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

More Mixed Metals

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/04/14

It seems like I’ve been working forever on several mixed-metal pieces, but at last I have one for which I can write a little report.

This one contains my current-favorite three-metal mix: bronze (in the traditional yellow-bronze color, used here as the base), rose bronze (in the slightly more pink color, used here for the bail), and copper (a reddish-brown used, along with those two bronze formulas, in another of my reversible pieces, in the decorative designs on both sides).

Well, technically, all of the metals contain copper: bronze is made from copper and tin. Yellow bronze gets its color (and strength) from a very particular mix of the two; rose bronze shows by its color that it has a higher proportion of copper in its mix, while white bronze (not shown here) contains a higher proportion of tin (which gives it more of a “white metal” color that is lovely, but also makes it trickier to work with (both finicky to fire and potentially as fragile as glass in its final form) so I use (and write about) it much less often…).

The three “flower disks” overlays are, from top to bottom, made from rose bronze, then yellow bronze, and copper. The copper has begun to darken a bit, as copper will; I put the rose bronze disk as far away from it as I could–the rose one will likely darken more than the yellow bronze (which often ages to a greenish hue), but less than the copper. In the middle, the smooth surface of the yellow bronze flower seems to give a very slight hint of the copper in it, more so than does the sandpaper-texture backing of the same metal. The contrasts possible with these metals make exploring them a delightful experience.

Most of the time, anyway (which accounts for part of the delay between posts recently). The other side (photo below / left) has a brushed-satin finish. Here, the bronze base also keeps its yellow color (the reddish tint towards the bottom is just a reflection of the red shirt I was wearing as I took this photograph!), but I applied a bit of patina-solution that would accentuate the differences in copper-content among the metals in the design. The twist inlaid down the middle shows, from the top, rose bronze, copper, yellow bronze; then another twist of rose bronze, copper, yellow bronze; and ends with a tiny hint of rose bronze again. The challenge in hand-finishing this side was to get a smooth, even surface so the patina-solution would not “pool” on the bronze and appear as a smudge (or worse, the start of some rough corrosion) which took several (rather frustrating…) tries. But I kept at it, because the fun part was seeing how the copper stripes darkened just the same as an aged penny would do, while the rose bronze has a sort of dotted appearance featuring a range of hues in a slightly more yellow range.

Now, all I have left to do is to hang it! I plan to use a soft, supple, satin cord, and slip a simple larks-head loop through the bail. One question is whether to crimp metal findings on the cord’s end, and then add a jump ring and clasp, or to skip the findings and instead use a pair of sliding Chinese button knots (thus, making its length adjustable). I’ll answer that once I’ve decided which color of cord to use. (From different sources, some are harder to knot than others: O the tension between artistry and practicality!)

I bet you can understand why I call this piece Three Flowers with a Twist.

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