Thursday, April 2, 2015

Anodized titanium rings & more

When I made the first of these rings, I had completely forgotten about using my good friend, the micro-torch, to anodize titanium. Yes, metalworking purists, I suppose you could say that such heat anodizing is sort of a poor-man's method, but there's something wonderful about the inconsistent color you can achieve this way. Each piece ends up being unique in its color pattern. Do it right, and you can even get color gradients from one end of the piece to the other. It's quite beautiful, really!

This spring I've been doing a lot of experimenting, which is why my blog has been quiet lately. I've been working on 2 very different new concepts:  chainmaille & leather designs, and anodized titanium. This post is devoted to the latter.

1/2 inch open cuff ring, heat anodized titanium with copper rivets

Titanium is such a unique metal. It's hard, but becomes brittle if you aren't careful. It's very, very strong, but so light weight that you might mistake it for plastic. And of course, it produces the most amazing colors just with the application of heat (ok, lots of heat... you won't be able to do this with an oven -- but I suppose a gas stove burner might work... maybe not too well, though).

The one thing you can't do with it is solder it. Not really. The "stuff" that produces the gorgeous colors is the same "stuff" that prevents solder from sticking to it. It's an oxide layer that changes the optical properties of the surface of the metal (I just knew all those physics classes I took in college would be useful one day! =P). You can weld it with special equipment, but I don't have any of that. Most of what I use is home-brewed, so... poor man's anodizing it is!

1/2 inch cuff ring, "rainbow" anodized titanium w/5 brass rivets

I'm working on some new ring designs that use this heat anodizing. I'm also just working at getting some of the many colors consistently. The blue & purple is one of the easiest. So is yellow/orange/bronze. I keep trying to get a good green color, but it's difficult. I may have to resort to setting up an electrical anodizing system for that. The above "rainbow" anodized ring was the result of an experiment in getting to the green color. The rainbow effect was so neat looking that I left it that way. The ring itself is quite rough, as I never really took the time to file the edges.

1/2 inch cuff ring, blue anodized titanium w/5 brass rivets (die pattern)

The half inch rings are huge, though, and there's something nice about simple designs. So, I'm working on some quarter inch wide bands with single rivets. The first one is a blue/purple anodizing (left somewhere in the halfway between the 2 colors stage, to a wonderful effect), with a single sterling silver rivet in the middle.

1/4 inch blue/purple anodized titanium ring w/sterling silver rivet

A closer look at the color of the narrower ring band:

1/4 inch blue/purple anodized titanium ring w/sterling silver rivet

Look for made-to-order customizable versions of some of these designs (maybe not the 5 rivet design, that one was done on special request) to land in my Etsy shop soon!