When I first bought the little copper shapes to make the earrings I sold so many of during the festival season that just passed, it was well over a year ago. I knew I wanted to use them one day, I just hadn't figured out how. I kept them in a place where I saw them fairly often and just let my mind work on them. I took a few out to make a costume necklace with to go with my pirate costume when my friend hosted one for her sister's birthday. But the inspiration didn't come until this fall and when it did hit, it hit fast. As is its custom.
So after I'd made and sold the first batch of earrings, I knew I'd be making more and quickly ordered more copper pieces. From the same place, which provides some of my other jewelry making supplies as well. Fire Mountain Gems provides quality merchandise and stellar customer service. Among the best. When they arrived, quickly as usual, I got started making the next sets of earrings for another festival that was so close around the corner. Things went well until I realized the piece I was hammering was chipping. In an odd way. It was as if the metal was copper coated, rather than copper coated.
Well as it turns out, that's exactly what was happening. They'd changed their own supplier and through a thorough email exchange with a follow-through kinda' woman who works in their customer service department, I learned that they no longer offered solid copper pieces. The new pieces look exactly the same and since they come polished to a lovely shine, most customers are probably just as happy with copper plated brass. That material, however, doesn't stand up to the whuppin' I give mine. And so they recommended I check around for another supplier since they can no longer guarantee solid copper disks for the patina most people want to give them.
I love it when a vendor is as up front as these folks. Actually, I've loved every single experience with this company. They even send a small "free gift with purchase" every time I buy something, which - as you can imagine - is fairly often. But now I'm going to have to branch out and find another place to supply my copper pieces.
It's good for me, actually. Among the plans I have in store for myself this year is to learn more about traditional jewelry making techniques. No doubt along the way I'll have a greater need to branch out into buying from other companies. It's good for me.
I even own a saw and huge sheets of copper. But I'm not willing to go that far, yet. For these pieces, I need to have the exact same size and shapes stamped out in uniform pieces. THEN I'll apply the extra work.
Hopefully I was able to identify all the pieces that were plated as I was hammering. It was fairly simple. But since some of the merchandise they still provide is still completely copper - they're mixed in together (it sort of occurred to me, though they'd never say it, that their own supplier might have done a little switcharoo number on them,) most of the pieces I received were what I needed, while a few were not. If any of my customers read my blog and have noticed any problem whatsoever with their earrings (or anything else I've ever made,) they should call immediately and I'd replace them. I'm banking on the belief that I "caught 'em" all, but infallible, I am not.
Meanwhile if any of my readers has a great supplier of solid copper disc shapes with holes already drilled in them, so I can bang on them a while with a hammer and turn them into earrings with silver, just let me know! Otherwise, I'll be reporting back about my own discovery one day.