Metal Magic – part 5

Kestrel finally reveals her finished piece of jewelery and it’s drop dead gorgeous. Before the unveiling, though, there’s still more work to do.

I’ve come a long way with this piece of metal and now it is finally even and thin enough that I can make a piece of jewelry out of it. So let’s get started. 

I’m going to use a nylon mallet for shaping. Here’s the beginning: 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

And at last, with lots of banging and really quite minimal swearing, it’s formed: 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

After the forming it needs a little polishing to get it nice and shiny.

©kestrel, all rights reserved

But shiny isn’t everything… the beautiful swirls of the copper can’t be seen very easily. By using a special patina that only affects the copper and not the nickel, I can get that pattern to show up. 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

©kestrel, all rights reserved

That’s much better. I’ve also coated the metal with resin.

Why did I coat the metal with resin? 

This brand new bracelet is made out of copper and nickel. Copper has the effect of turning the skin green. For the most part, people don’t want to have their skin turned green. In addition, there are people out there who are allergic to nickel. By coating the metal, I’ve made it safe for anyone to wear, even someone who is allergic to nickel. When mokume gane is made for jewelry, usually the maker puts a thin layer of something like Argentinium along the bottom, so that part would be against the skin, and the mokume would be safe to wear with no coating on it. This mokume had a rather dramatic birth and did not get the advantage of that, but that’s OK because I’ve got resin, and can fix that little issue. 

My thanks to Marcus for sending me such a pretty piece of metal. Metal is amazing stuff and with just a few simple tools can be made into beautiful jewelry!


  1. rq says

    What a stunning piece of work! It looks so simple, but the process behind it is obviously complicated, time-consuming and requires great skill. I would proudly wear something like this, and whoever gets to do so is lucky beyond belief!

  2. says

    What a wonderful bracelet, and as somebody who once wore the pattern of an elven tiara on her forehead for two weeks, thank you for being considerate and coating it in resin.

  3. says

    That is so cool! I feel bad that I treated that chunk of metal as a scrap; I didn’t realize how beautiful it was. To me it was just “that blob that I nearly set myself on fire with”

    I’m going to see if I can make some more alloys in the future. Perhaps some shibuichi/copper mokume. I know copper’s not an ideal material but it’s relatively affordable in great big chunks.

    Your patina-ing stuff, what is it? A cream? Or a dunk? It looks like ferric chloride but it might be hydrochloric acid.

    I wonder how hard it would be to nickel or silver plate mokume. Hm.

  4. Nightjar says

    Wow, Kestrel, that is a gorgeous piece of jewelry! It was fun to see the process behind this and how it turned out. I would certainly wear something like this, it looks so beautiful and unique.

  5. avalus says

    I can only agree with the others, a beautiful piece, very elegant!
    The chemist in me, too, wonders, with which chemicals you treated the surface.

    I also really like the crystals that you present the bracelet on, it is very beautiful!

  6. kestrel says

    Thank you! I appreciate your comments. The crystals are of course a lovely piece of amethyst and I believe it’s a chunk that came from a geode.

    As to the patina, it is called Baldwin’s Patina and apparently the contents are Sooper Sekrit, or, they could tell me but then they’d have to kill me. They do say that if it becomes weak, one should add a little pure ammonia, so that’s a little bit of a hint. Since it says on the label that it causes eye damage and severe skin burns, I’m not going to check it out any more than that!

    I’ve been checking into commercially available mokume gane and they usually cite a “thick” layer of Argentinium on the bottom of the sheet (whatever that means). No doubt to accommodate some cold forging, while still keeping a safe layer against the skin. It looks to me as though they pattern the sheet and then the Argentinium is put on, but hard for me to say as that is not my area of expertise. Certainly in rod mokume, which normally has not been patterned, you are expected to put something between the skin and the metal yourself, as they do not do it… such rod is expected to be twisted etc. to produce a pattern first.

    To Marcus, I would say, no need to give up copper as I think it’s an excellent metal for this usage, I think nickel and copper are fine, or Argentinium and copper. Or perhaps, nickel and copper with an added layer of Argentinium on the bottom. Although shibuichi does add a third color I doubt it is strictly necessary for beautiful metal. Generally speaking mokume is available in sheets of either 18 gauge or 24 gauge. I think I hand forged this bit down to about 20 gauge.

    I did discreetly enquire as to Marcus’ wrist size and quickly determined there was simply not enough material there, not unless I drew it out to foil. Alas, foil lacks the strength to remain a bracelet, so I had to give up on that idea. Sorry about that, Marcus!

  7. dakotagreasemonkey says

    That bracelet is beautiful.
    I once made a maille necklace for a lady out of stainless steel rings. She could only wear it over a high necked shirt, due to her Nickle allergy. I wish I had known about resin coating. I did have her husband wax it with car wax, and that would allow her to wear it against bare skin for about 2 hours.

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