I posted some steps I take to create hand-cut copper enameled hearts on Instagram over the last few weeks. Here are the photos, along with more detailed explanations, to show what is involved when making these heart charms.
I started making hearts this way for two reasons:
1) I like each piece to be unique.
2) I had a customer request for ‘bracelet charms’ and I didn’t feel that my other enameled hearts (with a large loop at the top like these) would be sturdy enough for a bracelet.
I also love how lightweight they are and, of course, all of the delicious c-o-l-o-r-s! ?
Hand-Cut Enameled Hearts
I start the process by torch-firing my raw sheet copper. Raw copper is what you would expect when thinking about ‘copper’ — it is shiny and copper-colored like a shiny new penny.
I fire it and then dunk it in water to anneal it. This softens the metal and makes it easier to cut. And, it is a very pretty process! The copper undergoes several bursts of color before turning black. Here is a video I made of copper annealing, using a circle shape instead of a heart.
The many colors of copper! ?I am bringing this copper disk to red hot. Then dunking in water. This softens the copper — a process called annealing. Then I can shape or more easily. There are several color changes in the metal at the midpoint of heating. ?? . . . #copper #jewelrymaking #enameling #metalsmithing #jcrosbyart
After annealing, the copper is largely black. Sometimes red. Sometimes a little copper peeking through. I don’t use a template or pattern for my hearts. I sketch out some hearts with a Sharpie to maximize the use of my copper sheet and start cutting. These hearts are sitting on top of a piece of black graphite.
After cutting and punching, I hammer them flat. I file any rough edges. After the enamel is applied, I cannot straighten or otherwise bend the pieces, since that will crack the enamel (which is a fine layer of glass). So I need to make sure that the shape is what I want it to be and that it is as flat as possible at this stage.
Here is a bunch of hearts — ready for enamel!
Mid-way through the process. The containers of colored powder are the enamels. Enamel is a very fine glass powder. I sift it on each copper piece, then into the flame it goes. This melts the glass and fuses it to the metal. I use several (7 – 9+) layers of enamel on each piece. I do this for both sides of each heart.
Here are the freshly enameled hearts. The next step is to solder a copper ring on the heart.
Here are the hearts with copper rings. I solder them closed (seal the metal using a small torch) so that they are durable for applications such as charm bracelets.
They also work great for necklaces.
Here is a photo from my customer who did not want name credit given, but who DID give me permission to use this photo of her lovely work — a charm bracelet and a necklace. Thank you!
A Heart For You
Enameled heart charms are available in my shop. Click here to go straight to the heart charms. I will be adding more of these hearts and I am happy to take color requests. Please contact me to arrange a custom order.
I offer a 15% discount for orders of 10 or more charms. Free shipping for all orders in my shop over $50.00 (discount applied automatically at checkout).