Use brass for making sheet-style jewellery pieces. Brass cuts easily with a jewellers saw and takes well to filing and shaping. This allows jewellery artists to create simple cuff bracelets, pendants, and wide necklace pieces. It is easy to glue or solder mounted stones, findings and other decorative elements to brass. Many artists start with brass because the metal is inexpensive and forgiving. This is part of learning how to work with finer metals.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Brass sheet
- Jeweller's saw
- Jeweller's files
- Epoxy glue
- Acrylic paint
- Artist brush
- Clear coat spray paint
Draw a bracelet design on a piece of paper. Cut out the design and any pierced cut-out shapes on the design. Wrap the paper around your wrist to determine the correct size. The gap between the two ends should be the thickness of your wrist. Round the edges.
Select sheet brass that is just thick enough that it is hard to bend with your fingers. This will vary depending on your hand strength, but this means the piece will hold its shape. Transfer the design from the paper to the brass by tracing with a felt marker.
Drill small holes in insets that need to be cut out. The hole should be larger than the depth of your saw blade. Insert the brass into a small vice and clamp it in position. Cut around the outside of the tracing using a jewellers saw. Do not use tin snips as this will bend the metal and cause problems finishing the bracelet.
Unscrew the saw blade and insert the blade into a drill hole to cut out the insets. You will break a large number of blades as you learn to use a jewellers saw so buy plenty of extra blades. Remove the bracelet from the vice once all of the cuts are made.
File all of the raw edges using metal jewellery files and sandpaper. Check for burrs or edges that will cut the person wearing the bracelet. Bend the brass using shaping tools and a rubber or leather hammer. Use anything to create a shape, such as the handle of a tool, as long as the metal can be bent around the object.
Sand and rub the surface to remove any problems created during shaping. Attach beads, stones or other items using an epoxy glue. Paint with acrylic paints. Spray finish with a clear coat spray paint.
Tips and warnings
- Make simple shapes first and graduate to more sophisticated designs. Brass will hold its colour and look nice over time.
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