Copper Jewellery for the Post-Apocalypse

Here it is! The jewellery project that I've been stressing over for the last month or so. The images above are the postcard design that went with my final submission. You get the gist, but we only had 50 words to state the concept, so I'll ramble some more below, and I'll also be including my full class blog in this month's goodies for my patrons. All 59 pages of it...! (Dw, lots of photos, not just text lol.)

The Task

For this project, I had to create 3 wearable objects taking the form of charm, amulet, or talisman. All the pieces had to be handmade from metal, attach to the body in at least two different ways, and I had to use saw piercing, soldering, lost wax casting, cold joining, and surface treatment.

Since I'm not a superstitious person and feel kinda uncomfortable with the idea of just making up some magical bullshit, I created a story instead. I've been into the post-apocalyptic thing lately, so I went with that - what jewellery would a survivor wear and why?

Well, the way I see it, your first goal is survival. You're mostly going to be nomadic. You're not gonna have time to fuck around with jewellery, especially not when there's only so much you can carry - ditch the useless stuff.

But here's one scenario where jewellery becomes doable:

1. You find a good fishing spot (fish have survived in this future)

2. You have a clan who can help you defend it from desperate rivals and work with you to make the best life possible

3. This gives you the time and resources needed for making jewellery instead of just scavenging it from the past

4. You mostly use copper, since it's everywhere and easy to work with, so you're not sacrificing good shit like steel just to decorate yourself

5. Your jewellery ideally has some use beyond aesthetics

(I will admit, I also went for copper because it was cheap, and we weren't allowed to use anything ferrous. I also maybe kinda sorta went for the post-apocalyptic because it's more fun and possibly easier than trying to make something perfect and pretty lol. Destruction is a more fun way to create!)

Knife Pendant

For the most part, I went with utilitarian jewellery to get around the whole "it needs to do something" thing. Instead of being magical, my pieces literally do things. This pendant, intended to be worn around the neck with a thick chord, has a swing out blade. Means it can be worn fairly safely, but still give you quick access to a knife.

So this piece provides assistance, for example in cutting fishing line, or gutting a fish. But it can also be protective, for use against your attackers.

Processes used: saw piercing, soldering, cold joining, surface treatment.

This one was a lot of fun to make, and I learned a lot from my experiments, so check out my blog in the goodies at the end of the month if you're interested in the process. I even used copper solder against the advice of my teacher, and we were both surprised with the results. Lots of fun!

No, you are not imagining that radiation symbol under the biohazard symbol! And yes, the weird little ear-tabs are based on shark fins.

Shark Tooth Ring

This is probably the closest one to just being "useless", but it has two practical thoughts behind it: firstly, it's the clan symbol of my theoretical future, intended to be intimidating because if you're a lone survivor looking to raid shit, you don't mess with a group that's strong enough it can waste time on jewellery like this; secondly, it's for protection - it's based on the idea of the knuckle duster, and you could in theory have a whole fist of these rings. The shark tooth design itself also speaks of the clan's identity as fishermen with a fierce fighting streak.

Processes used: lost wax casting, surface treatment.

Carving this out of wax was tricky at first, but I eventually got the hang of it. My class blog will talk a bit more about that if you're interested. One of the fun things about it for me was that it ended up with these little imperfections that I think helped make the tooth look a bit more organic. I also used a chemical to get that blotchy colour at the base, which is heaps fun to play with, it's like doing chemistry but for art!

Fishing Hook Charm

This is a charm you can slip onto the belt loops of your pants, designed so that you can easily take it off and slip the fishing hook out, ready for use. The idea is a sort of "good luck" for fishing, because if you lose all your old hooks, who cares! you have a spare ready to go. You're creating your own luck by being prepared. And it looks cooler than your tackle box.

Yep, that black is still copper. The magic of chemistry! This is how it looked before treatment:

Processes used: saw piercing, cold joining (jump rings), surface treatment. 

A whole lot of thought went into this one. For a while, I was going to make something with four of these bullet-fish attached, until I realised how crazy it was to attempt that before the deadline. I also put a lot of thought into safety, because it is really not fun to get a fishing hook stabbed into you, hence the cute little rib cage design. You'll see in my class blog how many sketches and things I went through to get to this design, omg. In the end though, the stress over this piece was worth it, coz it turned out a lot better than I was expecting!

All done!

After I finished the pieces, all I had to do was pop down to the beach and take some photos for the postcard design. First time I've been to the beach in ages! It's also the first time I've really put my trust in my smartphone, and gosh, these cameras are a lot better than they used to be! My old DSLR lens has a broken autofocus, and my eyesight sucks too much for manual, so it was nice to have an easy, more portable alternative. Not bad for what I needed!

What do you think of all this jewellery stuff?

And what do you think of my post-apocalyptic scenario? I tried to be a bit more realistic than some of those crazy worlds of hilariously impractical outfits we see a lot in fiction.

For the next project, I'm keeping the post-apocalyptic theme. But this time, I'm trying to tie it in to my new music project. Oh ho ho, I can't wait to tell you all what that's about, but for now I can't say too much more. I'm just gonna be vague and tease. :p

But maybe if I clear things with the boss, I can show my patrons a thing or two early... no promises at this stage but I'll see what I can do.

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