I love fabricating
metal. Donít get me wrong, I love Precious Metal Clay too (in fact, Iím
a certified PMC artist), but my practiced skills and therefore comfort zone are
Iíve seen lovely PMC
lentil-shaped beads and thought Iíd show you how to
make a copper one using fabricating techniques. Making a bead from sheet
silver would be exactly the same as from copper.
Use 400 grit polishing
paper to sand one side of the copper sheet (this will eventually become
the outside of your bead).
Cut two circles from
the sheet with your jewelerís saw. Youíll want to be as exact as
possible to prevent problems later. The size of the disks should be
about an inch or so for this project. I only cut disks if I absolutely
have to as itís hard to get them round. A disk cutter is a fairly
expensive tool that can save you hours of time. They are available from
most jewelry tool suppliers. If youíre using a disk cutter, anneal the
copper first (see next step).
Before doming the disks
youíll want to make them easier to manipulate. Anneal them by holding
each in the torch flame until it glows a dull red. Quench in water,
pickle, rinse and dry.
With the sanded side
down, dome each disk in the same depression of a dapping block. Choose a
depression that is the same size or larger than your disk, but both
disks must be the same size and profile.
Look at the two line
drawings accompanying this article (figures 1 and 2 at right). In the
first you can see that when you hold the disks together in their lentil
shape, the edges do not meet flush at the edges. Sand the bottoms of the
disks until the rims are flat. Youíve sanded enough when the two halves
meet with a sharp edge all the way around the bead, as in the second
When soldering a hollow
form, you must have a hole for the air to escape when soldering the two
pieces together. Since a bead isnít a bead unless it has holes in it,
weíll take this opportunity to start them.
On one dome only, use a
series of needle files to file a groove at one edge. This must be deep
enough that you can see a black hole when you put the two halves
together. If all you see is copper where youíve been filing, keep
working until you see the blackness inside the bead. Youíll finish the
holes after the bead is soldered so donít file the other dome yet.
Use the flux brush to
flux the rim of each dome and then coat the rims with easy paste solder.
Put the two halves together so that they form the classic lentil shape.
Use binding wire to
bind the two halves of the bead together in their finished form. Be
Solder the bead, on a
soldering tripod, until you see the solder wink at you around the edges
(it will kind of glimmer and turn bright silver).
Quench the bead in
water and then cut off the binding wire (important) and then pickle the
bead. Rinse it thoroughly in water and baking soda to neutralize any
pickle that might be inside the bead.
On the half of the dome
opposite where you previously started filing, continue opening the
holes. Once you can see the interior of the bead and both sides of each
hole look the same, use a 1/6Ē drill bit on your flex shaft to drill the
holes all the way into the bead. I hold the bead in my hand while
drilling. Rig up some kind of vise if this makes you nervous.
If necessary, use files
and a sanding stick to clean up the metal around the holes.
Clean the bead
thoroughly with your flex shaft and whatever accessories you have. For
this job I like rubber radial disks.
Finish off the bead
with your favorite color or texture.
These copper lentil beads have their holes going directly through the
domes and are dressed up with jump rings around the holes