The final parts to make are the two little arms. Originally, when I hadn’t gotten any further than the clay model, I thought I would use repoussé techniques to make the arms simply embossed on the surface. I soon came to realize that would not be desirable or even possible. I didn’t really know how I was going to make the arms until it was time to make them. I decided to sculpt them from solid 1/4″ copper rod. The first step was to remove metal where it needed to be thinner. I could have done this on a lathe, but it is much easier and quicker to chuck the rod in a drill and with the drill running, use the belt sander to remove the excess metal.
The two pieces were then annealed, and then bent at the elbow, using a hole in a steel block and a mallet. Then with a special punch and die made for the purpose, the knob of the elbow was formed. Then some hammering to bend and flatten where needed. The two fingers were formed by sawing down the middle and then doing a lot of filing, grinding, and polishing.
Next the arms get silver-soldered to the body. I first applied silver solder to the part of the arm that would be joined to the body. Then, to hold the arm in place, I used something called “Extra Hands”, that is a fireproof putty-like stuff that can be formed into any shape. The hard part was getting the heat where it was most needed. The thick copper absorbs heat and draws it away so well, I was afraid of ruining the existing solder seams before I was done.
At last, all the assembly is done. Now it’s a couple days of finishing: removing excess solder, polishing, refining the surface with further planishing, removing scratches, polishing, tweaking the fit of the lid, polishing, more planishing.
Here’s a tool I made to make the ridge on the back come to a sharper, more precise edge. It’s a rotary planisher/burnisher, a steel ball with flats on four sides. I found that it created an interesting texture, like tiny hammer marks, except it did it very quickly. Since it looked different than the rest of the planishing, I decided to extend it out some so it becomes part of the design, and blending with the rest of the surface along its edges. After all that, the whole thing gets buffed with tripoli. This is actually a higher polish than it ends up with, but the tripoli cuts fast and removes superficial scratches and smooths it nicely.
The final step is to scrub the whole thing thoroughly with a stiff brush and pumice, after a soak in very hot water and strong detergent. Then dipped in liver of sulfur a few times to give it a nice mellow coloring. Finally, a rubdown with fine steel wool, which gives it a fine scratch finish and burnishes at the same time.
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