I love this site called Cake Wrecks. It’s really worth a look, so go check it out sometime (after you’ve read this post, obviously!), you’ll not regret it.
Anyway, every Sunday they post beautiful cakes (rather than the funny cake fails that they normally post about), and last Sunday they showed lots of Autumn (Fall) cakes. They were all amazing, but one in particular caught my eye – an amazing Autumn wedding cake with twigs and leaves and two love-birds, by Mindy Gwinn. This photo caused lots of little ideas to pop into my head – I had just done my first copper and silver piece and I had lots of copper left over (hooray!)
I sketched out the birds by eye from the photo on the web and made a note of how the leaves and twigs looked. I then decided on a circular shape for the frame of this little pendant. I drew all the elements inside a circle and liked how it looked, so I photocopied the design at the right size and set to work.
If I am working from a particular design, I like to have a copy that I can measure up against, or lay the pieces on (so I don’t forget anything and can check how it looks before soldering!). This was important here because it was based on someone else’s design and I wanted it to look right.
Firstly, I made a circle of 0.8mm sterling square wire and soldered it closed (adding a jump ring to the top as well) with hard solder. I cut and shaped the branches out of 0.8mm round sterling wire, then soldered them in place with hard solder. A quick tap of the hammer to flatten where the branches overlapped (not too hard or they would have broken) and then into the pickle while I got the love-birds ready.
I basically used the same technique as with the bat I made yesterday. This time though only the basic shape was in sterling silver. I cut out the wings, eyes and beaks in 0.5mm thick copper sheet; and I can tell you, cutting out the tiny pieces was really tricky (the smallest beak is less than 1mm² and the male bird’s eye has a hand-drilled hole of about 1mm). This time I used my medium solder paste which has flux already in it. This paste can be used in tiny amounts just where it is needed, and I could place the small copper parts over the solder ready for heating.
After the love-birds were soldered and placed in the pickle solution to get rid of any fire-stain, I cut out some leaf shapes from the copper sheet and filed down any rough edges (I had already filed down any other parts when I had cut them out). Then all that was needed was to place the birds and leaves on the pendant, check the layout, and then solder in place with easy solder. This time, I turned the whole piece over and soldered from the back (so all the pieces had firm contact with each other), although I still had to be careful not to melt the more delicate branches.
I made a bail from a piece of rectangular silver sheet, which I rounded the corners of, and a small piece of silver tubing. The silver sheet was folded in half with my round-nosed pliers and the silver tubing was soldered between them, at the bottom, for the jump ring to rest on. These were soldered together while they were attached to the pendant and then a copper leaf was soldered to the front.
The pendant only needed a quick dip in the pickle (about 10 minutes this time) and then a good wash with a brush and washing-up liquid, before going in the tumbler. I’m still going to give it a proper polish to get any fine scratches out and to give it a mirror shine – but that will have to wait for tomorrow, I think.
I will be giving the copper a coat of Renaissance Wax to seal it. It’s a great product (invented by the British Museum, I think), which will protect both the copper and the wearer.
Well, here’s to msgwinn and that amazing wedding cake … and finally, here’s my little tribute to it:
(I will do a better photo of this in daylight. My ever obliging husband took this one for me but it was already dark and not the best conditions for photos)