Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tin Ear

Even though the holiday is near I’m continuing to develop what I’d like to be a small line of recycled earrings and jewelry.  I’ve been working with tin for a while now on the side and love the idea of adding it to the mix.  It just seems to have the right lineage to accompany some great mixed-media work.
I won’t profess to be thee expert but I have experience working with it.  In college, aside from printing on lithography stones I traveled down to Detroit from up north and sought out a company who would sell me litho plates to work with.  I became very acquainted with the process involved in working these plates for artistic purposes to print on paper.   A great deal of my work was done this way as they were portable – could be cut to size – and could be manipulated into odd shapes – thus giving the plates a shape to press along with the images they bore.  Printmaking was “my thing”.
Maybe this only makes sense to me but let me explain.  What we commonly call tin – i.e. tin cans, cookie tins, etc. is actually litho printed steel.   It’s a cousin to the steel plates I used to work on.  Albeit, fancy printing on the steel rather than transferred to the paper but fascinating to me because it’s a litho process.  The steel is printed, cut, shaped (this part has got to be interesting – can you imagine a machine to roll the lip of the steel?), and brazed or crimped together.  Okay, I’m giggly.  And I’m brushing my interest here with broad strokes but the history of the how “tin” cans came to be is interesting.  
A page out of my current drawing tablet - some pieces are actually taped in there as a reminder.
Can preprinted litho steel be manipulated by a jewelry artist?  Absolutely!  You just have to look at the proliferation of bead caps for that.  Almost anything you can do with a non-ferrous metal you can do with litho steel.  The only thing you have got to remember is that this metal is sharp when cut.  VERY SHARP.   It cannot be annealed to make it more malleable.   The lucky part is that it is plentiful, colorful, and despite the trite holiday decorations on lots of the cans they become indistinguishable up once you cut them into small pieces.  Just be sure you sand those edges – they file and sand nicely so they aren’t sharp when the earring is completed.
That twisted wire was a bear to manipulate - it's like 12 gauge...I should have annealed it rather than try to muscle it. Then I had to get stubborn and actually soldered it - like somehow it would open easily after all of that.

Above is the newest earring – flat as a pancake (LOL) with the exception of being dimpled.  I riveted a stirrup connection to the top and went from there.  If you’d like to see a simple shaped earring check back in my blog. I’ve shown one before.  The drawings in the photo are my ideas for more with rivets.  I haven’t even begun to draw the designs I have for folding this them. 


1 comment:

Lela said...

Well, these are gorgeous...great post. I have several old tins that I'm looking forward to cutting into pieces. And Santa's bringing me a Swanstrom disc cutter, so I'm hoping to use it on some of them. So many techniques I still want to try!