Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Riveting Rivets Class! (Yes, the pun is intended)

Oh, I'm so excited today! I spent the day taking Tracy Stanley's "Rivets - Cold Connections" class here in Bellevue. I had sooo much fun! Tracy, of Wired Arts is an inspiring and fun instructor. She teaches at national bead shows and we are so lucky here in WA that she lives in the Seattle area and teaches locally when she's not teaching at a show.

I learned so much today - I'll explain the process here. I wish I had brought my camera to show you the process, but I forgot!

We started the class with about 2 hours of texturing various sheet metals. We used a variety of things for texture, ranging from steel screen, PMC brass texture plates, about 6 different texturing hammers, metal stamps with designs and letters, steel washers and steel wire. Whew! Our possibilites were unlimited, it seemed. I textured copper, brass and sterling sheet metal. Once textured, we oxidized our sheet metal in liver of sulfur (smelly-yuck!), then carefully removed the oxidation with steel wool. We cut the sheet metal into squares and circles. Tracy brought her disc cutters. Her's is so much nicer than mine. Using hers convinced me I really need to order a quality disc cutter for myself, and soon. The right tool for the job, right? Anyway, the whole class was pounding away, taking out any worries, aggression and frustrations they may have had out on the sheet metal. It was fun and very, very, noisy! Then there was calm. Ahhh. Short lived, though.

Next up was learning to form rivets. We learned several different types of materials that can be used to make rivets. I used 3 in my own bracelet today. First, I used heavy copper wire. I cut a very small section of wire to fit through the items I was riveting together, then on my steel bench block... tap, tap, tap very lightly on one side, then the other side, then back again with my new, wonderful, Fretz riveting hammer. Talk about the right toll for the job; this is it! The hammering goes on for about 5-15 minutes per rivet! Patience is key. Tap until the ends of the wire are spread out like a nail head on both sides and flattened tight so all is secure.

By this time, our 6 hour class was over and I was at home working some more. For my second type of rivet, I used a copper nail. I cut the sharp end of the nail off and tried as hard as I could to keep the cut end from flying, just as Tracy told us to do, but the end went flying up from under my hand and workbench and hit my glasses and then my face. Ouch! Time to put on my safety goggles. Then tap, tap, tap, flattend the remaining end of the nail til it was smooth.

Third, I used an eyelet as a rivet. I found this to be the easiest and least time consuming, which was good because my patience was wearing thin. Another thing I could have used today, but decided I would wait for another time, was a piece of narrow tubing. I expect that it would feel similar to the eyelet, except that both ends would need to be hammered and flattened. I like the look of the eyelet/tube because it's hollow in the center and adds just a little more effect or layer to the component.

At the end of the evening, I had 6 squares of decorated copper and brass bases, with various trimmings on each. I linked them together with brass jump rings, made a clasp out of sterling silver wire, oxidized it, attached it, polished it in the tumbler and "Voila", a one of a kind bracelet! Well, "Voila" isn't exactly right. In all, I spent a total of 10 hours working on this!

Right now, I plan on keeping this bracelet for myself, as I ususally do with my first trial items. But, I have a lot of textured metal remaining from todays texturing frenzy. I'll plan another bracelet and hopefully post it on etsy soon, or just bring it with me to MN in mid April. I also think these components would make a great pendant (one or two pieces hung from chain) or a even a unique keychain. I'm also thinking about making about a dozen squares and letting people pick and choose which ones they would like to put together for their own unique bracelet or necklace.

I'm eager to know what you think of this bracelet. Your comments are most welcome - good or bad. Do you have any thoughts or ideas about what else you'd like to see made with these mixed metal, riveted components?
** As I finish writing this post, I just took the bracelet out of the tumbler (and added the photo of it). I must say, it's brighter than I expeceted it to be. I usually tumble my jewelry before I oxidize it, but this time I waited until everything was done, then I tumbled it. The tumbler took all of the oxidation off the brass jump rings and made them shiny bright. Everything is bright and shiny, but at least the oxidation still shows on the sheet metal portions of the piece, highlighting the textures. It's still pretty, it's just not what I thought it would look like! I'm sure the metals will darken on their own over time, though.


  1. Wow Sandy! This is awesome. Thanks for describing the process, just fascinating. I love it when we are able to invest in ourselves by taking classes. A big Bravo to you for taking the time to do that. And then sharing this with us is wonderful. I think everyone enjoys hearing about how others go through the phases to create their work.

    Now, this bracelet is absolutely stunning! I mean it. I too tend to keep my first efforts, but I'm certain this would be worthy of selling. I just love the mixed textures and metals. It looks wonderful.

    For suggestions, I think it would be cool to do earrings too. Maybe even mix them up so that they aren't identical, but since it's the same process they look like they're in the same family. Does that make sense? Looking forward to seeing these new items in your Etsy store!

    Happy Creating.

  2. Sandy, That is one gorgeous bracelet!!! You did a fabulous job. I love all the textures.I have to get one of those hammers. Making jewelry seems to be a never ending quest for tools.

    Can I ask what gauge of metal you used? Your jump rings are so perfect. What method do you use to make them?

    Thanks for sharing,
    Carolyn ;o)

  3. Hi Kathleen and Carolyn,
    Thanks for your comments and suggestions! Mis-mathced earrings are a great idea!

    I used some leftover jump rings that I store bought a long time ago for a byzantine bracelet that I made. The best jump ring tool I've used is handmade by Dave Arens. It's available through emailing him; he doesn't have a website. Here's a link from another site though, that explains his tool and how to use it. It has great photos.

    Dave's email address is

    For the mixed metal components, I used 24 gauge sheet metal in copper, red brass and sterling. They get very stiff and sturdy from the hammering and tumbling process. I usually buy my metals from

  4. What a great description of the process, Sandy! I could use some metal pounding to work out some stress for sure. The bracelet is very cool!