Friday, October 30, 2009

Copper Cuffs

It has taken a while to get back my blog but I am here now. As promised here is a photo of the copper cuffs I was working on when I last blogged...

They turned out quite well. And even though the hammering alone took 2 sessions over 2 days I still say hand hammering is still better than using a machine to do the hammering for me. It is just a matter of pacing so as not to completely wear our the muscles ;) These cuffs took longer than usual because they are much larger than I usually make. They were a custom order and measure 2" wide by 11" long. Usually the largest cuffs I make are 1" wide by 7" long.

After hammering, the stage that was shown in my last blog post, I sanded the cuffs by hand and hammered them into their cuff form. The last step before photographing and shipping was to polish them to a high shine.

In the time it has taken me to get this post together I have made quite a few new pieces along with working on listings for my Etsy site. The new design for my animal line is the ferret. They turned out beautifully.

This is one of the ferrets in copper. In about 2 weeks time I made 9 of these total in copper, nickel, red brass, and yellow brass.

The other custom piece I had was a copper version of an engineers guild ring. It is to be a special present.

I like how it turned out and am quite happy I was able to figure out how to make the design from a photograph.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hand Power or Machine Power?

As I sat beating a piece of copper into submission my arms began to tire. The hammer seemed to increase in weight with each strike. And then I thought 'there is probably a machine that can put all these little diviets into the metal without wearing so much on the muscles.' I continued striking the blank for an extra wide copper cuff with the ball-peen hammer and continued thinking...

I have seen a machine used to shape and smooth a fender for a bike on one of the chopper shows which would make this task quicker and easier. But being a machine each strike would be the same depth with the same amount of pressure. The resulting texture would not be as rich as hand hammering, as the strength and angle of each strike varies. It also wouldn't have the same energy. The time and physical energy put to hand hammering adds an unseen energy and feel to the metal as it is worked that shows through in the final piece. I have also found a greater sense of accomplishment working in older methods with my stubborn refusal to turn every part of my work over to complex machines. I admit I love my flex shaft for polishing and I would get far less pieces completed if I polished everything by hand from start to finish, but there is just something enriching and fulfilling about using a hand held hammer over a machine or hand saw over a laser cutter and I think that shows through in my work when the pieces are finished. So although I will acquiesce to using some mechanized processes I don't think I will ever give up the fun, frustration, and weariness that comes from working by my own physical power.

The 2 extra large (2" x 11") copper cuffs I am currently working on complete with hammer I am using, resting on my pounding block.