copper in glass
I have been experimenting with and using copper in various forms in my glass beads for years. I had been looking for some substantial copper sheet to cut out images to encase and embed into my beads and I found it when I used the Dichroic on Copper sheet that is produced by CBS (Coatings by Sandberg). I did a blog on using the dichroic on copper sheet a while back and now I am featuring the copper sheet that is a byproduct which came from that process, as a design element in glass beads. It is a great way to recycle the copper sheet that the dichroic comes on!
The hobby industry has a wide range of images that are set up as punch tools that can punch out a crisp image for paper or thin metal sheeting that makes the process a lot easier if you are doing series of beads or fusing with metal inclusions. I cut out the images I used with a sharp pair of small scissors and I also used some of the metal stamping tools that I use to emboss bead caps, to emboss a secondary image onto the copper inclusions I used in my beads.
Copper and glass get along really well together as long as the copper inclusion isn’t too thick. I discovered through my experimenting with copper that if you use too much or too thick of a copper inclusion, you might crack your bead.
There is a wonderful ruddy pink color that develops on copper pieces that are encased in a glass bead or fused project that I find delightful. When you place the copper on the surface of a bead, the copper turns black/brown because the flame oxidizes the metal surface. I removed this oxidation by tumbling my finished beads in a small tumbler with metal shot that removes the oxidation slowly over a couple of hours. If you don’t have a tumbler, you can use a dremel tool to polish the surface copper inclusion back to their original copper color.
I had a great time experimenting with copper encasing and inclusions and I think you will too.
Click on photos to see larger image.
I am a die hard dichroic fan, but I had not paid much attention to the CBS Dichroic on Copper Sheet because at first I couldn’t get my head around it. When I first saw some dichroic on copper sheet, it was Silver and it just didn’t catch my attention. Recently I was shown a dichroic on copper sheet that was a pattern called “Mixture” that has soft blues and pinks in it as well as silver and I said to myself – WOW, this stuff is really neat looking. I had a sheet that had been slightly broken up and the bag was full of cool looking dichroic bit-shards. The dichroic shards really got me motivated to make some beads with it and I really like the results.
You have to be careful when you open the bag of Dichroic on Copper and have a sheet of paper under the bag to catch any shards that might flake off. I put the dichroic shards that I had on a graphite pad that I use for rolling up shards on to beads and it works really well.
The dichroic on copper sheet was designed to provide dichroic that can be put on any glass, so you don’t have the problem of matching the glass you are using with what ever the dichroic is coated on. Another great thing about the dichroic on copper is the fact that the dichroic layer on the copper is 3 times thicker than any other way that dichroic is normally applied. The thicker coating makes the dichroic much more durable and less likely to burn to that gray scum that everyone hates.
The copper sheets also allow the artist to cut patterns or strips of dichroic in the sheet and roll the dichroic right up off the copper onto a hot bead or other lampworked form.
CBS (Coatings by Sandberg) has a good instructional video posted on the web that is good to watch and it provides some great working points that help in using this product. If you have never seen dichroic on copper used, I recommend watching this short educational video on the Sandberg website.
In case you are wondering what to do with the sheet of copper once you have used all the dichroic, the copper is of a thickness and quality that it can be used to apply cut out patterns of copper on to a bead. I have seen some stunning examples of this technique and highly recommend giving it a try.