Shipping a 48″ circle spiral copper weaving tomorrow or Monday. This copper weaving has a very lovely flame-colored patina, sealed with Incralac. The flame colors are always very beautiful before being lacquered, especially the blues and violets, but after lacquering about 50% of the colors disappear – they are too transparent. Incralac hides the beautiful colors the least of all the lacquers I’ve tried. Incralac takes a few days to dry fully – the more it dries, the more beautiful the colors remaining.
On the table or in the box, the copper weaving doesn’t look that impressive. On the wall it is truly spectacular. Weight is about 25 lbs. It has a copper pipe frame on the back (octagonal) and doubled picture wire.
Copper Weaving – Improvements
I did a few things differently with this weaving. I did do a very minor touch up of the colors of one area with airbrush and some very transparent solvent dyes in Incralac, thinned with xylene, airbrush set at very low pressure. To add the colors, I dipped a steel wire into the color, then used that to stir the lacquer. Less than a drop each of orange + brown + violet, then a little blue later.
I used 1/4″ steel rod formed into a 48″ circle and shaped the excess copper on the edges over the steel rod. This adds rigidity and dimension to the edge. 1/2″ rod might have been even better, with 3/4″ pipe on the back.
Copper Weaving – Flame Patina
This is my technique for the flame patina on the copper weaving. When the copper weaving is completely finished, all loose edges brazed and fixed and the copper frame soldered to the back, I set the round copper weaving on a large lazy susan, then go over the front very carefully with an air die grinder and a coarse 2″ or 3″ 3M pad removing all scratches in a random pattern. I then ‘roast’ the copper weaving with a rosebud tip set on pretty high heat. I want to get to a light brown color – this will cool to yellows and blues. I let the copper weaving cool for 20-30 minutes, depending on the time of year – less in the winter, of course. Then I put a #3 tip on the oxy-acetylene torch and start building up colors. Remember – this isn’t like paint. It’s more like magic. You will only see the colors appear when the flame is removed. I have the heat set pretty high on this tip also – you can hear the noise of the gas. I go over each little part of the copper weaving, again and again, building up colors, layering, adding interest and depth. I don’t want any portion to be boring. Every little piece must be an abstract masterpiece in it’s own right. A copper weaving this size takes me 1 – 1.5 hours to flame. I’ve learned to do it both right- and left-handed. Otherwise the torch gets too heavy. My mantra when flaming is light and bright. Some of my older patinas were too dark.
For you physicists out there, these colors are caused by the thin-film interference effect, same as for soap bubbles.
Copper Weaving Photography
Photography technique – I bracketed 5 exposures, all with the same aperture, then layered them in Photoshop, each with 20% fill. This seems to lessen the specular highlights and enhance vibrancy. I am still studying this technique. It is similar to HDR, but emphasizes reality, rather than distorting it. Very slight tweak on the center of the curve tool line and that was it. No other work done except to crop the image and to remove nail holes from the walls with the clone tool. Hey – just found out how to do it with Photoshop CS5. Not sure I like it better though.
The box is made – 1/2″ plywood and sized to be exactly 53″ x 53″ x 2″ and 84 lbs. Fed Ex has the requirement that Length + Girth must be less than or equal to 165″. This L + G comes out to 163″. Just under. It will probably cost $125 to ship it Fed Ex Ground to Connecticut.