Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

Metamorphosis March 3, 2014

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 12:45 am
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Last week, I ended with a little tease about a quirky, but interesting challenge in my metal’s class this session. During the first class of a new session, the teacher will give us some odd material and let us go. We have about six sessions to figure it out…cut it, smash it, twist it, bead it, wire it…whatever we can think of.  Just turn it into a piece of jewelry.  Tomorrow night is the show-off.

It feels like Iron Chef, when they lower down the secret ingredient.  This session, Pam brought us a bag of brass bullet casings. Really??  Not too excited about this one.

Have to say it’s been an education. I had no idea that there are people out there who make jewelry out of these. If you haven’t seen what can be created with these, do an internet search sometime. Amazing!

Won’t bore you with the details, but at first I was just going to glue a filigree butterfly to the outside and call it a pendant. But as people started talking about what they were struggling with for this project, I started to take it more seriously. Luckily, my son-in-law, Ron, and grandson, Zach, had bucketfuls of casings in the garage and a willing spirit to give me a hand…helping drill out the tops and making some cuts for experimental workings.

As etching is a focus technique we’re working on, I decided to try it using ferric chloride. Always wanted to try this method using StazOn ink and a stamp pad. Need to pay attention to some serious guidelines for this, but easy to do.

Tutorial here.

LOVE the results, although there was a little misstep on my first one.  I drew a simple design with a sharpie pen, but left it in the acid way too long. Pretty sad-looking.

Acid experiment


The next one was rolled on an inked stamp and left in the acid bath for 20 minutes.  Success!

etching success


So this is the casing I decided to use and discarded my butterfly pendant idea. This etched design was just too pretty to cover up.  The idea of some kind of pin popped into my head last week and I did some reading on a brooch style called a fibula. Originating in the ancient Roman world, it’s based on a coil-spring hinged pin, used as a decorative clasp for clothing, shawls, and cloaks.  When you have time, do a Google image search for some awesome examples…however, search for ‘fibula jewelry’ or you’ll get tons of info about your leg bones!

Since I was using antiqued brass material, I thought this might be an interesting way to go.  Never tried a pin before, so why not!

After some wire bending, hammering. and fiddling, here’s the final piece. And you can see I did keep some semblance of an insect in the design…

Fibula 1


This design used brass wire, a quartzite crystal shard, and some picasso finish Czech glass beads.  Will I use more bullet casings in my jewelry designs…Hmmm, don’t know.              Will I do more etching…Absolutely!!       Will I make more fibulas…You bet!!


12 Responses to “Metamorphosis”

  1. OMG Linda this is absolutely amazing. I think I love this the best of anything you have done so far. I like the design of the wire and the shard and beads. It looks like they could have excavated it from a roman ruin. I love anything ancient looking anyway. Kudos to you!!!!

  2. Kathy Zee Says:

    Linda, i sure do love this one. I have always loved what you make, but this one is totally so cool. I think you should make more of these. Loved the technique and the look of the bullet. Awesome!

  3. Linda Murphy Says:

    Linda your piece is very creative it turned out beautiful.. I wish there was a metals class where I live. Did you glue the shard into the casing?

    • Hi, Linda…glad you asked that that was a real tricky bit for me. I told the teacher, Pam, I thought about gluing a stone inside the casing, and she replied, Oh, no, no gluing in this class (with a chuckle). I had to figure out how to wire wrap the stone and push the ends up through the hole we drilled in the top of the casing, then through the bead. The little antennae are the ends of the wire. Believe me, gluing would have been a whole lot easier!!

  4. This is stunning! Your first work cocooned into a beautiful piece of art.

  5. I have seen jewelry made from bullet casings but nothing as beautiful as your art pin! Wow! I just love all of the elements and especially the rough crystal. I am just so drawn to rough cut stones lately. Your etched casing turned out so amazing – seems you are learning all sorts of great things in your metals class!

    • Thanks so much, Cindy…I’m feeling very lucky to have access to such great teaching and fully equipped jewelry lab, as well as generous sharing of ideas among the students. Inspiring, indeed!

  6. I also really like the top, mistake, one. I think a bead inside that, like the last one, would look good peeping out of the dissolved bits.

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