Just a few notes I wrote up for my Continuing Education students at Iowa Western Community College. Copper is one of my favorite materials to use, and it’s great for practicing wire wrapping, because it’s softer and less expensive than sterling silver or other materials!
Copper is used as an alloy…sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.75% other metals, usually copper. This adds strength, but also causes the silver to tarnish more quickly.
Bronze is a metal made from combining copper with tin; brass is copper and zinc.
Copper will tarnish when exposed to oxygen. Make your copper new penny shiny again by using one of the following methods:
- Polishing cloth – my favorite is Sunshine brand.
- Tarnex – dip or wipe the piece, but use care if the piece has stones (no opal, turquoise, or other “soft” or porous stones). Rinse very thoroughly with clear water and dry.
- Natural jewelry cleaner: 1/4c white vinegar, 1t salt. Put in a plastic container and shake to dissolve the salt. Add jewelry and stir around or shake gently. Rinse very thoroughly with clear water and dry.
- Rub Ketchup on the piece using a soft cloth. Rinse thoroughly. – Combine lemon juice and salt and dip/rub on the piece. Rinse thoroughly.
- Tumble in a rock tumbler with mixed stainless steel shot, water and burnishing compound (blue Dawn works well).
If you wear copper and it turns your skin green or black, your body chemical makeup has a high acid content. “Treat” your copper using a thin layer of Future floor wax, Renaissance Wax, or clear Krylon spray. Any treatment will wear off over time and will need to be reapplied.
If you have a higher alkaline content in your chemical makeup, you’ll naturally “shine” the copper that touches it!
Copper can be artificially tarnished (or antiqued) using chemicals or the natural sulfur found in hard boiled eggs. Tarnishing metal and then polishing the high points brings out the detail in wire wrapped and stamped pieces.
Verdigris is the green/blue patina that you see on copper outdoors (think of capital domes or garden decorations). Verdigris can be removed from copper, but like rust, it may have damaged the underlying surface.
You can buy copper wire at the hardware store.
Copper is alleged to have healing properties, especially for joint aches and arthritis.
Copper is probably the oldest metal mined and used by humans…when you wear copper, you are wearing a bit of history!