reticulated earrings

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Raking What You Sow

Fallen Leaves Earrings

I love the fall.
I love everything about the fall.
Like every ex-patriated Yankee, I miss the Fallish things:
The First Frost
Apple Cider
Cold Halloween Nights
Shorter Days and Sweaters
More hot chocolate

Best of all, I love the whole leaf thing.
The “knock-me-down” breathtakingly beautiful colors,
colors you are sure that you will never see again
 and then of course,

The raking and piling and jumping.
The grilled cheese and tomato soup that come when you are done.
The smell of the next farm over burning the piles.
Maybe most of all, I love the smell of exhausted leaves
 as they finally give up on the branches
 where they were born.
I am a leaf
You’d never know it here in Texas, but in other places in the country, fall approaches. It’s the time of year most commonly thought of as the beginning of the end. It’s the driveway into the garage of the year, the demise of various life forms, the shortening of days and the lengthening of the darkness – the end. For me though, it’s right up there with Spring as far as exciting times of the year.   There’s electricity in the air.

That’s how it was making these earrings: exhilarating.  I learned a few cool tricks making them. First, I found out that sawing metal in curved lines is much easier than sawing straight lines.  I learned how to use teeny, tiny, little, bitty files and bits on the flex shaft to get a clean edge on the metal (who’d have thought that such small devices could make such a BIG difference?).  I learned how to liver-of-sulfur for color (stinky), to tumble for strength (noisy), and to make ear wires so you don’t have to hold onto your earrings in your hands (handy).  And I learned the miracle of copper sulfate etching.

Copper sulfate etching is a green process.  It uses a weak copper sulfate solution and electricity to etch the desired pattern into the metal — in this case, the veins of the leaves.  The low voltage current miraculously draws the unmasked copper away from the piece and plates it to the stainless steel pan below.  So, a key element in this etching process is keeping the item suspended above the bottom floor of the etch bath container.  The job was so important that it had to done by something firm enough to withstand the weight of the piece over a prolonged time, and yet forgiving enough to return to the bath over and over again as the need arises.  There was never any doubt; the Jesus pencil toppers would be our only salvation.


Cut Copper Sheet
Sterling Silver
Argentium 930 Silver
Copper Wire