I Beat it into Submission

by laurie jane kern on September 7, 2009

Several months ago, I bought a beautiful Bruneau Jasper that was cabbed and polished. It was not cheap but well worth the money.  I have a very old Lapidary journal that had an article about Bruneau jaspers and how mounting them in copper enhanced the colors – and looking at the one I had bought, next to some copper sheet really did make it pop.

I knew what I had to do!

First I make some copper viking knit ‘chain’ with coiled ends. You have to have a copper chain for a copper pendant.

Then I went looking for copper bezel wire. Well that was impossible to find so I had to make my own. I was already signed up for Jay’s rolling mill class – no problem I would wait until I took it.

And I waited, and recovered from my shoulder surgery.

During this down time, I doodled some designs. And waited some more.

The rolling mill class was August 15 and a week later I was down at the club, using the small rolling mill to make my copper bezel.

During the soldering of the first bezel, I blew out the joint, my torch was too hot and the wire too thin (28 g). Back to the club to roll some more and I then got my bezel completed 26 gauge this time.

I had sawed and filed my backing in-between the bezel making. It was rectangular, it had rounded corners, I then planished it with a hammer (that was my next mistake). Because I had planished the outer area of the backing, it has stretched and warped and no matter how I sanded the bezel it would not lay on the backing with out a gap.

I thought I would be smart [i.e. STUPID] – I used some binding wire and got most of the edges to meet the backing and started to solder. WRONG, the solder just flowed out the gaps and all over the backing and then I again blew out the bezel.

This was yesterday, I was sooo angry at the copper and myself. I even considered selling the cab on and not deal with it at all. I spent the night watching stupid movies and knitting. This morning was another matter. I would just put it away for a few months, post some questions on the Orchid list and see what help I could get.

Did I put the cab away – NO! I pulled out more of the bezel wire and made a new one. I made a new backing and decided to planish it AFTER the bezel was soldered. It was ‘laurie go slow, you can do this, you can beat it at it’s own game’


I have just finished setting the cab. I needs a bit of cleaning up but here it is.. TA DA

Terri – you asked for it and here it is on my dirty work bench (10:21 pm)

laurie jane kern

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Meryl Free October 24, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I am new to jewelry making and could relate to your frustration and perseverance. I love copper with sterling and with blue topaz and carnelian. Your jasper pendant looks beautiful. I love the woven chain! Congratulations. I have been working my copper with a very smooth finish. The problem I have is that the beautiful warm luster I achieve starts to brown the day after I finish painstakingly polishing it. Do you or does any one have a suggestion for this problem? I have tried a clear resin spray for metals which peeled immediately. Wax for metal was suggested,I bought some but have yet to try it.

Diane September 30, 2009 at 3:55 pm

This is beautiful and look at all you learned in the process!

Laurie Jane Kern September 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I would not have thought about the copper either until I saw that article in the old Lapidary Journal. I have another Jasper that is very brown – I might have to use Bronze.

To get the planishing, I made a tiny ‘hammer’ out of a 10 penny nail. I ground down the point and then polished it. By using the nail and hitting it with the hammer I was able to avoid the bezel. I also use the nail to add the texture to the bezel.

Iris September 8, 2009 at 8:15 pm

This turned out very lovely, Laurie! Your persistence really paid off.
I would never have thought of using copper with Bruneau jasper but it really does make the stone pop. It must have taken a steady hand to hammer the edge without smashing the bezel!

You did a great job on the chain too! I have a VK class later this month and am really looking forward to it.

Vicki Kataja September 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Very cool, Laurie!

Terrie Masters September 8, 2009 at 5:23 am

Ahhh, now I can see the texturing detail, and that is good. Quite a lovely piece young lady. The Chain looks very nice as well.
When you start to take your class with Jay, perhaps you can use the photo set up in the back room and get some good photos to really show up your smithing efforts.
Thanks for your extra effort.

taueret September 8, 2009 at 1:38 am

hi there, I am just exploring all teh Orchid blogs and I was excited to find yours- I love copper and think it looks great with your stone. Also well done on persevering- I walk away from my bench with my jaw clenched several times a week but I always am back before long! Your success is inspiring!

teresamasters September 7, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Persistence and questions will get you through every time. Would be great to see the copper creation on other than a close in color background. Looks good from here.
Spend a bit of time in the Orchid Archives, and read up on bezel gauges. Most commercial bezels are too thin. Easy to fold over, but that is all. A heavier bezel is far more impressive, and also lends itself to embellishment, either hand or rolling mill. Less likely to melt as well.
Keep up the excellent striving.

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