Electroforming at Craft Alliance - Week 1

This next series of blog posts will be a trilogy, as I’ve signed up to take a 3-week crash course in Electroforming at Craft Alliance. Electroforming can be described as a process that lets you create metal jewelry elements out of an organic object or keepsake. Cool, right? (I had originally planned to take a class on Wood and Found Objects Jewelry that was cancelled at the last minute. All of the metals classes sounded fun, so finding a replacement wasn't tough.) I had no clue what to expect, but brought a bunch of random trinkets to my first class to see what could be electroformed.
I've got baby on the brain for obvious reasons, but this stuff is so adorable! Now, which pieces would make fun jewelry?
The class was small – only about 5 ladies of various ages and experience in jewelry-making. The teacher, Jen Bradford, immediately put everybody at ease with her disarming, quirky personality. She has years of experience in all types of jewelry-making (her earthy, handmade pieces are amazing). Although she described electroforming as “finicky,” she said it’s her favorite medium. If it’s not obvious from the name (which is wasn’t to me – preggo brain, perhaps), electroforming involves electricity. A device called a rectifier converts alternating electric currents. You suspend an object that’s been painted with metal into a “bath” of copper solution. The wires from the rectifier run electric currents through the bath and several hours later, you’ve got a custom piece of metal jewelry. (If this still sounds confusing, I feel you. Simple version? I painted an object with copperizing paint, let it dry, and then had it suspended into the bath. When I come back next week, we’ll retrieve the items from the bath and see how they look all Metallica’d out.)
The white radio-looking box is the rectifier. The cooler will house our  jewelry materials while the rectifier does its thing.
I chose the stork and the baby bottle toys for my first crack at this. I super-glued little rings on top so the toys can be hung from a necklace or earring.
Our pieces are going to look something like these, hopefully,
For the first week, Jen instructed us to use plastic items like toys to electroform. She had some army men and bugs available, but l looked thorugh my trusty trinket bag and decided upon a plastic baby bottle and stork that I found at the Green Shag Market. Assuming it comes out looking halfway decent, both will make very unique and fitting pendants for a necklace. I originally wanted to keep some of the plastic un-copperized, but Jen cautioned that you need an uninterrupted current of electricity for the process to work, so you can’t have a piece that’s un-touched in the middle and then metalicized at the end. Jen also let us know that even if you do everything “right,” electric currents are not always predictable; it’s a true process of trial and error. I’m hopeful that Baby #2 really wants Mommy to rock the baby-themed jewelry, so I can’t wait to see my pieces next week! My goal is to end the class with at least one wearable pendant.
Here's our instructor in the studio.
Lots of machinery in here. A crafty gal could get into lots of trouble here. LOL
Next week, we will be using more “porous” materials, such as dried leaves or flowers. I haven’t decided what I’m bringing in, but a previous student did a piece of lace that looked awesome. Any suggestions for me?

Are you interested in learning about jewelry-making or artistic projects with other mediums like fiber or wood? Visit craftalliance.org to learn more. They have classes that are one afternoon, 3-weeks, or 6-weeks to fit most people’s schedules. You can also follow Craft Alliance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If the suspense of how my jewelry turns out is too much for you, I will be live-tweeting during next week’s class (Thursday evening) J.  

P.S. - Thank you, Craft Alliance and ALIVE Influencer Network for making my crafty dreams come true!


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