For years the odd pieces of copper pipe, discarded in some re-piping project, leaned against the boathouse wall. For years I looked at them and tried to visualize what they could be. I knew they had something else in them, but what it was escaped me. For some reason I was thinking that I would need to weld to use them, and though I solder jewelry, I’m not a welder.
Until last weekend when I realized what I was seeing in those pipes. Bracelets.
Sawed into measured sections with a jeweler’s saw, scrubbed inside and out (they were only water pipes), pickled and washed again, the first section was ready to be annealed, pickled, washed and completely flattened with a hammer. After several hours of repeated annealing, pickling, washing and forging, I finally filed the edges and sanded the whole thing. I applied a bit of antique patina by dipping the piece into liver of sulfur, and I’ll seal it with lacquer spray and wear it for awhile. If it wears well, and people like it, I’ll be ready to turn the rest of the pipes into more refined copper bracelets.
Being able to recycle those perfectly good pipes in this way really appeals to me, and now I am thinking about lots of different ways to use the pipe, to cut it and forge it, including fold forming. It’s not rocket science and it’s certainly not the first time anyone has created jewelry from recycled copper, but it has rekindled my creativity in a way that nothing else has in the past several years.
Taking those first steps toward making things again, for reimagining a new form from a discarded form, somehow opens the door to new ideas and possibilities, for making something from nothing.