Cold Connections

A few years ago I took an intensive silversmithing workshop in NYC with my sister and cousin, who both share the same Vietnamese first name, Kieu. But to be precise, my cousin’s name is actually Kieu-Diem, and Diem is my Vietnamese first name. As if that weren’t confusing enough, my cousin’s twin sister’s name is the reverse of her name, so it’s Diem-Kieu. You can imagine how it is when we’re all together in the same room and someone calls out our names–you’d get all 4 sets of eyes looking back at you.

But my cousin Kieu shares more than a name with us. She loves jewelry making and large tools (don’t ask me why I collect hammers and want to buy a loom) possibly even more than I do, and has created a wonderful business at Bead Q! with her husband Andy around this passion. This weekend we finally got our schedules in sync and I met up with her during one of her classes at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Costa Mesa.

Now, it’s been quite a few years since that class in NYC, and that was the last time Kieu saw me wielding a torch while on some kind of painkiller. It wasn’t pretty, but we all survived bootcamp and she went home with enough knowledge to become a teacher, and I went home with jewelry I know I made myself but without much recollection of how I did it in the first place. But she promised me her “cold connections” class is easy-breezy fun…translation: I won’t be able to harm myself or other students or burn down the venue.

Anyway, in 4 hours she showed us how to take a piece of copper, imagine jewelry designs around it, and fuse parts of an old watch into the designs with rivets.

The above was my starter kit. Is it any wonder I chose the copper with the gator-embossed design? I cut the copper into two strips,

rounded out the corners and filed the edges down:

Then I stacked the parts of a watch to see how the end design might look for what will become my bracelet:

Once I was set with my design, I used the hole puncher–the small but powerful tool seen to the right of the following picture–then made some rivets with cut copper tubes:

Next, I soaked the strips in the “pickle” juice for about ten minutes. Then with a small butane torch we skimmed the surface with the flame to get all the funky hues to come out:

I’m happy to report I did not scorch anyone’s hair or my own eyebrows while doing so. Finally, I attached the watch parts to the copper strips with more rivets (did I already say I’m all about making rivets now!) and gently bent them to fit the curve of my arm:

I added some hoop rings to the rivets and will attach leather strings to those rings. I prefer to use leather strings to clasps since I think they will stay on my small arm better. So this is what my cuff will look like once it’s all connected:

Can’t wait to meet up with Kieu in Ohio for her next class. She already promised me she will take me to the Amish auctions up there. Maybe I’ll find a loom… 😀


  1. larkie

    ^Jel, ya, we ran out of time at the end of class so i only added one ornament per cuff. i’ll post pics once i finish adding the finishing straps. if your arm is same size as mine, Cinderella, i’ll send you one of the cuffs. lol!

  2. jelita78

    great job there!
    so u end up with single ornaments on each bracelet? instead of 2 like the before pics?
    are u gonna use leather strings? or make it like criss-cross styling?
    why on earth am i asking sooo many questions?
    hmm.. can u make me one? hehehe

  3. larkie

    ^lol, i think most Aries have a pyromaniac living inside them!!

  4. April

    Totally kewl! What’s this about not being able to handle a welding torch?! I can’t believe it; YOU are a Fire sign, my dear, as am I, I live with a torch but only light candles with it. I could collect torches if my DH would let me. I should have been born in the year of the Dragon, but alas, I’m only part dragon – the fire breathing part! Nice bracelet. You did a fab job on this unique piece. Keep it up!!

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