I am a full-time unemployed student. Needless to say, money is tight in our home. That being said my wife has made many sacrifices to keep us from borrowing money for my education. In May we reached our 25th wedding anniversary. I wanted to get something special. We are not necessarily what you would call traditionalists and honestly anything that ever comes up as a 25th-anniversary gift is made of silver, and useless.
I decided to be creative try something outside of my comfort zone.
Please enjoy my process and feel free to try it yourself. If you have any comments or ideas you want to try let me know.
Step 1: My Progress Video I Made for Facebook
This was part of the present to my wife. I made a video/presentation to celebrate our Anniversary and show the steps I went through.
My daughter and wife went away on weekends to many Girl Scout events and this left me time to work in private.
Step 2: The Very Rough Beginnings
I honestly had no idea where the begin. All I knew is that I had an idea and a final vision.
What I started with was 12ga. copper wire that was left over from an electrical job.
The initial piece was much longer than I needed and in retrospect, I am glad I did that.
I experimented with securing the individual pieces with solder and flux. I used whatever I had on hand so the flux is the same stuff used in plumbing.
Once I was able to make 3 sets of 3 wires (9 strands in total) it was simply a matter of braiding the wires. You can get as creative as you want with this step. I opted for a simple braid. One thing I learned for next time is to make the braid TIGHT. Make sharp, tight, and intentional bends in the wire.
Step 3: Hammering
Honestly, I had no idea that this step was going to be so rewarding. A Ball Peen hammer and a simple anvil is all I needed for the first hammering.
Additionally, this step is so simple. Goggles, Gloves, Hammer, and Anvil. Pound until happy.
That is it!
As you pound out the copper, it begins to curve. This actually gave me the inspiration of how to finally shape the end product.
For now, I opted to keep the braid flat for now as I had to see how things were going to come together.
Step 4: Gem Dry Fitting
I ordered all my gems but the Crystal Quartz through Amazon and I must say the Amethyst was easily a wonderful surprise.
I tried so many configurations and arrangments, but this one spoke to me.
Step 5: First Buffing Experiment
It has been hammered and is now to my standards so I began to try several buffing and cleaning methods.
I used my handheld rotary tool with several buffing bits and a buffing compound from Harbor Freight (cheap and easy to use).
This compound took away many of the scratches and imperfections from the hammering process. But it left just enough to keep the handmade look I was looking for.
Keep in mind this step was an experiment with happy results.
Step 6: Cut, Cap, & Final Polish Before Assembly
I neglected to get an image of the caps I made for the ends of the braid once I trimmed the braid to my desired length.
I looked at the braid and decided which area best fit my liking and simply cut it with a hacksaw.
The ends were made from a bronze plate purchased at a hobby store (.008 x 5 x 6).
I made a template, etched it to the bronze, cut it out, shaped, and soldered it into place.
Once it had cooled it was back to the anvil to smooth it out. After it was smooth I filed off the excess and buffed again.
Step 7: Trim & Shape
Now we are getting somewhere.
I waited a few weeks because honestly, I was fearful for destroying my progress so far.
I went back to the anvil and began softly hammering until the shape took place.
There was much sweat on my brow at this point.
Step 8: Amethyst Setting
The question of how to set the gems took a great amount of consideration. Each gem was treated individually.
The Amethyst was so beautiful I did not want to interfere with it. I have a great deal of experience wire wrapping jewelry. However, every time I put a wire across the Amethyst my heart sank. So I tried something new.
The back of the Amethyst was still in its raw form. So, I simply glued with E6000. The result was nothing short of wonderful.
Step 9: Crystal Quartz Setting
With the Crystal Quartz Setting, I also used E6000. However, I also used a simple wire twist to embellish and set it. Once everything was tied and twisted I soldered it permanently to the copper bracelet.
It is, of course, our 25th Wedding Anniversary so the Silver Wire was a cool addition.
Step 10: Moldavite Setting & Lava Rock Experiment
This was the smallest of gems and every time I placed any wire over it, the Moldavite was consumed.
I was at a loss of what to do so experimentations began. What I decided on was a setting made in a similar way that stained glass is set. The copper tape used on the edges of the glass worked great.
I experimented with a piece of lava rock from my grill. The fit was surprisingly solid and did not intrude on the gem at all.
The process is actually quite simple:
1: Wrap the copper tape and shape to your liking
2: Secure the piece into a helping hand vise and begin adding solder.
3: Once cooled you can add wire to the setting for attachment.
Step 11: The Final Polish! (almost Done)
Now it looks like something!
I used a product called Never Dull for this. It is a polishing product that is pre-soaked into a wadding.
This worked best for me as it was not a cream or liquid. There were so many nooks and crannies and I was fearful of not being able to clean them out if any residual remained.
Step 12: The Final Piece!
I am pleased to present the final piece!
I do apologize for the last one without the good lighting but it does show the bracelet well.