A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Power of Money

I have a big bag of money from around the world--some of it I collected on my own travels, and some of it my mom gave me. I've hung on to it for years. Wouldn't it be cool, I thought, to use some of these coins in a piece of jewelry? But alas, I lacked the patience to drill them. (This is why I need a drill press.) So they languished in a drawer. I ran across them again yesterday, and pulled them out and pawed through them for a while, reminiscing, and put them away again.

Today I decided it was time to seriously work on my inventory for the little component shop I have in mind. I started working on some charms with some wire weaving, idly thinking about what a pain in the ass etching is and how beat up my brass texture sheets are and isn't there anything lying around the house somewhere that I could use to pound a cool texture---

OH MY GOD. THE COINS.

I leapt up, the Metal Muse on my tail. I was driven now.

I furiously dug in the drawer for the bag of coins, hauled them out and dumped them on the living room floor (where I do my hammering, hunched over like a Balinesian basket maker.) I pawed hungrily through them, looking for patterns, lettering, borders...

I found some with intriguing, intricate patterns and decided what I would do.

I annealed my copper pieces in the torch (until they glowed orange), quenched, pickled and cleaned them.

I took the first one, and positioned it atop a coin:
I fastened it in place with painter's tape:

Then I pounded the crap out of it with various hammers (with the coin underneath my copper shape), first with my really big one, then a little tapping in the center with my chasing hammer to make sure the center of the design was deeply impressed in the metal.
Et regardez!
Cool, right?

I did a bunch more with the more artistic looking coins:
The coins I eventually chose were from Japan, South Africa, Mexico, Swaziland and a bunch of British coins that I think my grandmother might have picked up on a vacation somewhere--the British ones are all from the late 50s and early 60s. The designs on them are fabulous! The beauty of these coins is how tough they are--they really take a beating! And they don't really cost anything.

I like how the copper shapes look almost like relics--like those misshapen coins you see brought up from sunken ships.

These will be destined for clasps, focals, connectors, and maybe even a little pair of earrings. I might attempt a little patina embellishment on them.

Stay tuned for the finished products!

36 comments:

  1. Well that is beyond cool!!! If you want some easy peasy holes ( in the coins of course) get a cheap coin punch I would take mine to a deserted island!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought it would ruin the coins! How cool!

    ReplyDelete
  3. WOOOOOW!!! That is so totally cool! What a great concept - and they look awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  4. They look great. And I love how you share your ideas and the process.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great idea! I can't wait to see what they look like when you add a patina to the copper...

    ReplyDelete
  6. That's such a clever idea! The copper pieces turned out great. :)

    I have a coin collection, too. I keep thinking I'll make them into jewelry, but I'm too sentimentally attached to them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Genius! And I had to look up how to spell that 'cause I don't use it too often. Great idea!

    ReplyDelete
  8. You're too good!!
    Congratulations, expect to see it realize.
    kiss and good week.
    Cinzia

    ReplyDelete
  9. wow very very magic!!!! Congratulations!!!
    Grazia

    ReplyDelete
  10. Keirsten, tu sei un genio!!! Favolosa idea! (bello anche il vostro nastro da pittore, blu, qui, in italia, è giallo chiaro, beige).
    Bye darling!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Brilliant! I also have a bag of coins from all over that I keep playing with, not sure what to do with.......

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very neat! Haven seen people texturing with patterned sheet metal, rusty hammers etc, but never with coins. Cool way of using the pretty coin designs. Can't wait to see the finished pieces!

    I've got some old coins, bought at antique and stamp shows, and heaps of old swedish copper coins, but so far I've never used them in my jewellery (unless you count the necklace I made as a teen, threading a danish coin -- i.e. one of those with a hole in the centre -- on a cotton cord). This post made me think of way to use my own coins. Very inspirational!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Way cool!! Love them! You are so clever.

    ReplyDelete
  14. you are so clever! I have been trying the brass stamping plates and not having a heckuva lot of success.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "..and I pounded the crap out of it"....I love reading your posts!!!! You have made some awesome findings here! Very ingenious and creative!

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a cool technique and think of all that history you're transferring to the jewellery, all the places those coins have been...so unique!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This. is. excellent.

    I have a bunch with half drilled holes because I gave up after a couple of drill bits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Barbara,

      How are you doing with the drilling? I, too, was having trouble drilling holes in coins until I read some posts on web forums about how to do it. Begin by making a "mark" with a center punch (really, any pointed object) to keep your bit steady. Then, when you drill, the key is moderate speed (high speed strips the drill bit and it just spins), a bit of pressure, and repeated lubrication during the process. When you see a small "ribbon" of metal arising as you drill, you're doing it right. Also, be sure the bit is moving when you pull out, to avoid breaking the bit. If you're going for a large hole, drill a small hole first, a "pilot hole."

      Delete
  18. Barbara, Pattie Gasparino sent me this link to a metal punch that she says goes through coins like buttah! I think I'm going to have to get one...

    http://www.firemountaingems.com/details.asp?PN=H203084TL

    ReplyDelete
  19. Cool, right! Wow!

    You're a genius.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I can't wait to see, what You're going to do with it ! I know it is going to be beautiful!
    Hello from Florida!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I inherited a crop-a-dile scrapbooking punch thingy, the one with the pink handles, and I tried it for punching holes in a penny, was slightly harder than butter, but not much.

    Love your blog by the way. You can always make me laugh out loud!

    And thank you for the idea of annealing metal first before pounding patterns into it. I have been experimenting with thrift shop stainless steel cutlery as texture pieces, without a lot of success. I will try annealing my metal first.

    Carol Bartraw

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a great idea thanks for sharing. I also used harden brass plates and they don't last to long never thought to anneal first.

    P.S. Your earrings on Everyday Earrings are gorgeous!!!

    Theresa

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love this... and your design aesthetic. You are so talented!!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. And there I was, wondering how to get a pretty texture on metal sheet without having to invest in embossing folders and all. Genius. And there's a LOT of old coins around on the flea markets here, from pre-Euro times, bweheheh. *rubs hands and cackles evilly while plotting*

    Do you think this would work without previously annealing the metal sheets? Just asking, because, I don't have a torch. Yet.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Sandra, I think you could get texture on your metal without annealing, as long as your coins were very hard (i.e. no aluminum coins). I've had the best luck with copper sheet, as it is softest. Brass and nickel were much harder to get an impression on, and don't respond as well to annealing (red brass turns rather pink, and annealing doesn't seem to affect nickel much). You won't get as deep an impression without annealing, and your coins may get worn out rather quickly. And of course the texturing process hardens your sheet even more. You do need a very heavy hammer for this, you really need to whack it hard and that's hard to do with a small, lightweight hammer. I'm thinking you might be able to anneal copper in a gas stove flame (or maybe even set your copper on an electric burner and see what happens! If it turns red, you're in business.). You don't have to melt it (obviously), just get it red hot. You could probably even anneal with a butane torch. You really only need MAPP or propane if you're going to actually melt copper. Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually put a piece of aluminum foil on the grate of my gas grill, then laid copper pipe and copper sheets on it, turned the gas on high & voila! Even tho I have a torch (now), I still use the grill... alot!

      Delete
  26. Keirsten,
    That's really cool - lots of coins do have wonderful designs on them, and perfect for jewelry use. I love that you chose coins from Swaziland and South Africa - two countries right next door to me - and they do have some cool coins, with great designs; as does Mozambique where I am - even shrimp, rhinos, cheetas... Good luck with the components shop.
    Carla

    ReplyDelete
  27. I thought you were going to say you pounded the coins flat, and it seemed like that would be a shame, but I love what you've done with those! Looks like I better be on the lookout for things to texture with!

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is a fantastic idea..Thankyou so much for sharing it.
    Jenni

    ReplyDelete
  29. Just stumbled across the post- what gauge copper sheeting did you use? Did you hand cut the shapes or use a metal punch? Love this idea :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mostly 24, 26 and 30. You can do it with 22, but it's harder on the coins. Round shapes I like to use my disc cutter or metal hand punch, as long as they're the right size. Other shapes I use metal shears--that's part of the nice thing about thinner gauges of sheet. I try to avoid sawing whenever I can because it's a pain and takes so long. With the coin technique you don't have to worry about the shears making marks on the edges of your metal because they get pounded out in the texturing process anyway.

      Delete
  30. -Can these flower sheet be gold or silver plated after the embossing ?????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know nothing about plating, so can't help you there. I imagine whatever can be done to copper, can be done to these, since that's all they are. Solid copper.

      Delete