Things have been going pretty well for me recently. I had a really low patch over Christmas but have been recovering of late. I’d been volunteering, going out, swimming, all sorts. I even tried an aerobics class! And then pulled a muscle in my stomach and got hit with a week of horrid depression…
Oh well. Out of pain, weird rusty nail jewellery!
I’ve been volunteering at Newcastle Wood Recycling. It’s a great place for all your woody needs, and filled with welcoming and creative types. Most of what I’ve been doing is removing nails and screws from wood so it can be sold and re-used. But, while the wood finds a new life, the metal bits get swept up and thrown in a recycling bin. They seemed in need of some love.
First though, some science!
I knew I was going to be attaching new bits of metal to the rusty nails but I didn’t want it to look new. Poking around the internet I found a few different ways to ‘age’ metal quickly. A lot of them involved chemicals and treatments that I don’t have and wouldn’t really want to use. I did find this technique though, using the methane released from boiled eggs to create a patina. It seemed worth a go.
This is the selection of bits I’m experimenting with;
There’s rusty bits, silver coloured jewellery fixings, bronze coloured jewellery fixings, a bit of solder and some steel rings. And here, with not-quite-cooked-enough egg (I got impatient);
Looking tasty. After an hour or so I gave it a poke and found this;
The silver coloured earring had started to rust, as had some of the rings. No effects visible on the solder or steel.
I managed to leave it overnight before opening;
The silver coloured earring coloured really well, as did some of the rings. I think there was a slight darkening on some of the steel rings, but that might be wishful thinking. The solder didn’t seem bothered, which I was a bit worried about.
Still, I cracked on to playing with dangerously hot things;
It took a while to figure out the best way to solder them. My first few had too little solder, the rings just snapped off. For the next ones I piled on far too much solder then used rifler files to take half of it back off. A bit of a faff, but the result is much stronger. Very shiny though, clearly in need of some eggy love.
After a night in a bag of equally under-cooked egg (why can’t I boil eggs?!?!) I got these;
Again, the patina is sporadic, but that fits the style quite well. The solder is still shiny but less ‘freshly filed’ shiny. It’s worked great to cover up where I’ve filed sharp bits off the tips of the nails too. Quite pleased with these!
I’d loved the sound of the nails clanking around while I worked with them so wanted to keep them dangling, wind-chime fashion. I was going to hammer some nails flat to make spacers, but found some lurking in my broken jewellery box I could cut down instead. I hammered all the jump rings I used flat, it seemed to suit.
I had thought of egging the whole thing. The contrast with the newer silver is quite nice though, and I was worried about having a patina on the ear wire that has to go through the ear. With the chain and spacers being slightly dull from age anyway, it didn’t seem worth it. I coated the parts with the patina in matte sealant and matte varnish to stop it rubbing off on skin.
It’s hard taking photos of your own ear.
I love how they turned out. While a bit too long for my taste, they look great and move really well. The clanking, tinkling sound as they hit each other is very pleasing.
With the shorter nails, I made another, smaller pair. This time in the sunshine.
Yes, I know. I have not treated my anvil well. It really needs some TLC, but I was kinda liking the rust on it transferring to the jump rings while I hammered them flat.
I had a play with some pendant ideas too;
I’m not so sure on these. I hammered some steel wire flat for collars and soldered jump rings over the joins. Trying to get the angles right, and hold everything in place, for the solder was… tricky. Maybe if I hang them on chain not leather… I don’t know. Not happy with them yet, but something there to play with.
At least I managed to amuse the cat;