Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Recycle, reclaim,reuse ...

I aim to use reclaimed materials as much as I can in my jewellery work. I enjoy both the freedom and the challenges these materials bring to the bench .... but sheesh, they can be hard work! Deconstructing things in order to reuse them can be pretty tough on my hands. Sometimes the only answer is to break out the angle-grinder, which I loathe, so I usually have to enlist the help of the ManBeast. 



Aluminium is the easiest by far - but look how grubby that stuff is! Eewwwww!


Silverplated trays can be quite hard to chop up by hand - you never really know what they are under that plating ....


Old copper and brass planters are wonderful and whilst I adore that green patina, it is notoriously unstable so I usually have to remove it before I start and then work a little alchemy if I want it back on the finished article! Getting reclaimed metal clean can be pretty labour intensive and I have a bunch of 'weapons' in my cleaning arsenal.



These soap pads are awesome! They are  usually the first things I use. I also love those green scourer pads. Recently I discovered that you can buy these little abrasive pads that fit into a flex-shaft or Dremel  ( one of the joys of being self-taught is it takes an age to discover the right tools! ). They work a treat and are great for small diddly bits  and they certainly save my hands but they are kinda expensive and I seemed to wear them out super quick. I decided to have a go at making my own. I got my wad punch and punched some out ...



I used a mandrel designed for a buffing thingo to put them into the Dremel. They worked a treat although I wore them out pretty quickly! Still, given that they cost about 2 cents a piece instead of 4 or more bucks, I am ok with that!



Brass and metal brushes - I have a bunch of different ones and these are excellent for cleaning but are also useful for pattern making on the softer metals. So there are a bunch of steps to go through before I can even start on the actual making. It gives me time to think ...



This piece has had a basic clean and a bit of a polish but will need to be scrubbed with steel wool and then progressively finer grades of emery paper (3M paper is a treat!). Eventually, it will look like this ...





Reclaiming metal is harder than buying new metal when you consider all the effort that goes into the process but I prefer it this way. I think it makes me more adventurous because the materials are inexpensive and that's a good thing because I seem to learn best from my stuff-ups! Of course the best reason for giving things a second life is that I am trying to tread lightly on this beautiful planet and still make lovely (frivolous) things! 
Scrub scrub scrub polish polish polish clean clean clean ...








1 comment:

Emma said...

I admire your tenacity with so much prep work to do, lovely piece. I adore what you've done to that hammer in your last post & of course, the delicious marks it makes.