How to Use Copper Foil to Make Jewelry

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Copper foil is a material that has traditionally been used by stained-glass artists. It is a narrow tape with an adhesive substance on one side and a thin, pliable layer of copper on the other. When wrapped around the perimeter of a piece of glass, copper foil serves as a foundation to which metal solder can be applied. You can use copper foil to make any kind of jewelry that you would like to enclose in a solder frame. Use copper foil to turn pieces of glass, pottery fragments, cabochons and assorted found objects into jewelry.

Things You'll Need

  • Jewelry component
  • Copper foil
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Flux
  • Paintbrush
  • Solder
  • Soldering gun
  • Choose copper foil that is at least 1 1/2 to 2 times as wide as the edge of the jewelry component in which you will wrap it. For example, if you want to wrap a pottery fragment in copper foil, and the edges of the fragment are 2 mm wide, choose copper foil that is at least 3 mm wide. You need extra copper foil to fold over the front and back of the jewelry component as well as to cover its edges.

  • Unwind a piece of copper foil from its spool.

  • Wrap the length of copper foil around the edges of the jewelry component to judge how much you will need. For example, if you want to make a pendant out of a pottery fragment, you will need enough copper foil around the entire perimeter of the fragment.

  • Cut the amount of copper foil that you need using scissors.

  • Peel away the backing from the underside of the copper foil strip to reveal its adhesive.

  • Press the sticky side of the copper foil strip against the edge of your jewelry component. Position the copper foil so that you can fold equal portions of the foil down over the front and back of your jewelry component.

  • Wrap the entire perimeter of your jewelry component in copper foil. Fold the excess portions of copper foil down and press them against both the front and the back of your jewelry component.

  • Smooth out the copper foil with the edge of a ruler. Make sure it is pressed firmly against the jewelry component and has no large crinkles or bubbles.

  • Paint the copper foil with a light coat of liquid flux using a paintbrush. Flux is a substance made of borax that helps solder to flow with ease.

  • Coat the copper foil in the solder of your choosing. Position solder against the copper foil frame around your jewelry component. Heat the solder with a soldering iron. Draw the solder along the edge of the jewelry component with the soldering iron; the solder will naturally flow to the places to which you have adhered the copper foil.

Tips & Warnings

  • Attach jump rings, bails, chains or other metal components to your copper-foil framed piece using solder.

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References

  • "How to Work in Stained Glass"; Anita Isenberg, 1998
  • Craftbits: Altered Art Glass Slide Jewelry
  • "Simple Soldered Jewelry & Accessories: A Crafter's Guide to Fashioning Necklaces, Earrings, Bracelets & More"; Lisa Bluhm, 2007
  • Photo Credit stained glass image by pearlguy from Fotolia.com
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