Project - Cleo Neck Piece

Cleo Copper Neck Piece


One of the many Random things that I like to do is make Jewelry and accessories, and some that I particularly like to make are made using recycled materials. In this post I am going to attempt to show you, how I created a piece that I call Cleo.

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     I collect scrap of all types, for the most part it is simply an extra source of income when I get enough to weigh in at the local yard. However, I often find myself using the good scrap (that scrap that would get a better price, such as copper) for other projects such as making jewelry or other random things.


     I have over the years made pieces of Jewelry as a hobby and something to do when bored, feeling creative or when an idea forms. This particular piece was started one day when I had stripped down some  broken equipment and salvaged what I considered to be some useful components.

Some Health and Safety


Firstly some Health and Safety Warnings:

     This project uses for the main pieces, sections of copper taken from an old air condition unit, the copper elements that cool and are filled with Freon. I had been given an Ac unit that at some point had a ruptured line so it was empty, however there was still residue in the pipes.

     Freon is harmful for the environment, it is in most cases illegal to simply allow to pour out, well evaporate anyway. There are company's that have special equipment to collect and recycle the Freon and it should be dealt with just like any contaminant, with care, precautions and responsibly.

     The problem with AC units that are removed from windows each year or spend a long season installed outside in freezing conditions is that the pipes containing Freon can become brittle and rupture.

     The Ac unit that I collected this scrap from apparently sat out all winter and then was dropped when moving and a section inside ruptured releasing the Freon. After that it was literally thrown in the trash before it was handed over to me to recycle and scrap. Usually if I have been given an AC unit that is still filled with Freon, I take it whole to the scrap yard where they extract the fluid safely. Seeing as this was already basically empty it gave me an opportunity to collect some useful soft pipe for crafting.

     Now I dealt with this just as if I was dealing with any potential hazardous substance, I wore gloves and a mask while stripping the materials and I ensured that  I cleaned up any residue with a towel that I then disposed off safely.

     Now for your information here is a list of some of the hazards of dealing with Freon, it is mostly for long term exposure to Freon and in larger quantity's than what would be in an ac unit however it is always best to be aware of a potential hazards.

Symptoms of mild to moderate Freon poisoning include:

  • Irritation of the yes, ears, and throat.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting.
  • Frostbite.
  • Cough.
  • Chemical burn.
  • Dizziness.


Please stay safe and take precautions in all the projects that you undertake, especially those that could present potential hazards and risks to you and to the environment.

The Project Begins



     The Ac unit provided me with these rods of copper, very flexible and in long lengths. I then cut them down to sizes of different lengths and washed them all well and dried them thoroughly.

     The small rings that are present are actually from where the aluminium sheet that makes up the cooling system in an ac unit and come off easily with a wire brush.

     To start with the ends were a little rough and sharp in some sections but once I had the required amount of lengths for the project I was ready to begin forming the piece.

Flattening Out



     I used a flat head hammer combined with my small anvil to flatten each section out, I hammered them hard even though they are very soft at this point to ensure that the pieces would be sturdy.

     Working the metal actually makes them harder but still keeps them flexible enough to bend and manipulate when needed,

Folding The Ends



     As this would be worn around the neck, I did not want any sharp edges or anything that could potentially stick the wearer in the neck. 

     So I simply used the anvil and a flat hammer to fold over the edges, hammering hard to flatten out and fuse the metal seems together.

Clean Up



     Now came the clean up of the pieces, I began by using a small grinding disc and went over the edges to ensure that they were even and removed any potential sharp and rough edges. 

     I made sure to wear safety glasses as pieces fly all over the place and no one wants a damaged eye.

     Then I went over each one using a small wire brush attachment on my rotary tool.

     While doing this tiny strings of wire flew everywhere and I would find them in my sock for days later, also some stuck actually in my face so please be careful as they are very thin and get everywhere,

Attaching the Sections



     Now there are a few steps missing from the photographs, I thought that I had taken pictures of every stage but alas I was wrong.

     To start with I had selected a length of thick copper wire, very thick as I wanted this piece to be a solid one. I curved the wire, made some curls at each end for chain connections and then flattened it using a hammer. 

     I then folded each flat piece again at one end and hooked them on to the flat wire, before I gently hammered the ends down around the wire. 

     I also used some thinner wire and wrapped it around the spaces between and over the backs of each section for added support.

     Before beginning the process of brazing I cleaned the entire thing down again using a wire wheel attachment and ensured that there was no grease from fingers or loos pieces.

     Then I began brazing each section to ensure the pieces were secure.

     For this I used just regular solder, I flattened out the solder and cut off tiny pieces that after I had applied some flux to the area I positioned into the gaps.

     I did one section at a time not rushing and the whole thing was supported by a variety of helping hands and tweezers.

     Then I heated each area, from the bottom to draw the solder into the joins using a mini pen style torch.

Another Clean Up



     Once I was happy that each piece was secure, I went ahead and cleaned up the piece using a wire wheel attachment. This gave me the opportunity to examine the piece and decide how I would progress next.

     I also added a thick copper ring to each end for the chain and then had a cup of tea after cleaning myself down from all the dirt and grime.

Making a Chain



     Next, I wanted a chain so that I could attach the main piece and see how it would fit. This was actually important as I needed to know if it was too chunky or if it needed bending more.

     So I used some thick copper wire and cut a ton of small circles and began to join them together.

The Chain Gets Bigger



     This chain that I was making, was not going to be the final chain, it was a quick one, primarily just for using as a temporary solution. However in the end I actually used it as the chain because it was chunky and seemed to suite the piece.

     It did take a while to produce but gave me the opportunity to do something a little cleaner for a while.

Chain On



     Now that I had the chain on, I was able to see how well it fitted and make adjustments by bending the holding flat piece a little. 

     At this stage I was happy with the way it was all going and now turned my attention to adding some extra details on the piece.

Spiral Additions



     I had considered keeping the piece plain, as in not adding any other details, then I thought maybe I should stamp on the pieces. But after playing around with some wire Ii decided to go the extra and attach some what I call fancy pieces to the piece.

     I began by cutting lengths of thick copper wire and bending them like in the picture, then I flattened them using a flat head hammer on the anvil.

     Once I had the pieces all ready it was on to the actual attaching them to the piece.

Adding Solder to The Additions



     This part was by far the most annoying part of the project. Firstly I added some flux to one side of the attachment, then using tweezers I placed tiny specs of solder along the side. Some would flip off and it took a while.

     I then used a very low pressure mini blow pen torch to slightly melt the solder so that I could actually pic it all up without pieces falling off.

Attaching the Additions



     This took a while to do, although it was relatively easy and straightforward. I coated the solder with flux and then positioned the piece onto the main piece. I used a variety of locking tweezers to clamp it together and then gently heated with the torch.

     Once it was all fused together I dunked it in cold water to prevent burning myself and allowed me to remove the clamps and start another piece.

Inspection



     After attaching a piece and cooling it off, I made sure to inspect each section, this allowed me to ensure that by heating I had not disrupted the join on the top along with ensuring that each addition was in fact secure.

All Added



     Finally they were all attached and after an initial inspection it was all looking good and secure.

    Now at this point it was all filthy and burnt with a lot of cleaning up needed. 

    But so far it was going well and it was time for some more tea.

    So I placed the piece into a pickle solution and left it for a few hours to help clean of the burnt parts and give me a break.

Good Clean  Up



     After removing from the pickle and dipping in a baking powder solution followed by a wash off, it was time to clean the piece up.

     Now I did notice that due to the fact that it was late in the evening and I was somewhat tired I had made a mistake attaching the details. 

     Some of the ones on the left are facing a different direction but it was far too late to do anything about it and hey it is hand made so it is now unique.

     I went over the entire thing with a wire wheel brush attachment and yes got stuck with tiny little wires that i still find in my socks.

  But on the whole it cleaned up nicely.

All Shiny



     So now the main piece was basically done, it was time to add the chain and make a suitable clasp so that it could be worn.

     At this point I actually went to bed feeling as though I had accomplished something. This also provided enough time for the piece to lose its shine and react with the air producing a more copper look to the piece.

Adding The Clasps

For the clasp, I decided on a simple one that would be two hooks, one a hook another an S style hook, I formed them both using thick copper wire, and then hammered them flat for effect in the middle. They work well together and are easy to use, I thought I had taken  a photograph but was mistaken, so at some point I will upload a photograph here.


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I love creating Random things.

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