Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Adding color to copper using heat

I am working on a project and I want to include some metal in the piece.  I decided to add some copper mesh and strapping but wanted to change the color of it, which can be done by using heat.

Here I have two pieces of copper mesh, a piece of copper strapping, my pliers with rubber coated handles, and my embossing gun. I don't know if they still make copper strapping. It is used for plumbing and it seems like all I ever see now is galvanized steel strapping, which will not work for this technique.

(Note:  heating metal can be dangerous and the tools and metal can get very hot. Never touch the metal while heating. Let it cool before you pick it up.  If you need to pick up the metal during or after heating, use pliers with rubber coated handles, so the heat won't transfer to the tool.  When heating metal, do it on a flame resistance surface. Also, work in a well ventilated area. I do this on my concrete driveway.)

I used my embossing tool to heat this piece. You can see it is much more orange at the top. At this area, I moved my tool continuously and slowly.  At the bottom where it is turning purple and white, I went much slower and did stop briefly in spots before moving on.

It took a while to color that piece. I decided to use my tiny butane torch for the other pieces.

(Note: If you decide to use a butane torch, please read all the safety instructions that come with it. I am not going to go into how to use a butane torch, because I don't want to be liable if you catch your pants on fire!).

Here are my results using the torch. The embossing gun does allow a bit more control regarding color changes.  With the torch, it is easy to go from slightly purple to spotty white very quickly. I did like that I could sort of make a pattern while moving the torch around.

Here is the strapping. It was hard to make it the red-orange color and it went to purple-white very quickly.
This is the back side of the strapping, it had a lot more of the orange color and a lot more color variation. I guess I should look at the back sides of the copper mesh, maybe their back sides are interesting as well.

I then cut circles out of the metal mesh. I tried to use my die cutter, but the mesh was too strong so I had to cut them by hand. I then used E6000 to glue the circles to some gears.

Here are a bunch of items I am going to add to my project.  It's quite a handsome collection.

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