The other approach I’ve been working on this week has been to cut out and encase heart shapes cut out of copper foil. Copper accents are commonly used as inclusions in glass, and since I had some copper foil on hand I recently picked up a small heart punch.
These craft punches have exploded in popularity with scrap-bookers and paper crafters, and your local craft shop will probably have a full aisle or two devoted to the wide variety of shapes and sizes. In addition to simple shapes, you can now buy punches that produce frilly borders on paper, rounded corners and frames, and I even have a punch to make earring cards with the holes and fold out tabs. Some punches cut shapes several inches in size, and there are now punches that can cut anywhere on the paper, ie they don’t have to be used on the edge. Warning: you can drop a TON of money if you’re the type to get carried away. I’m not…I spent $3.99.
Since the copper foil is much thicker than gold leaf (closer to the thickness of a sheet of paper) it’s easy to punch out and handle small shapes. I tried both cylinders and lentil shaped beads of transparent glass, applying several heart cutouts and then encasing the copper in a thin coat of the same glass. The copper is easier to work with than gold, but it still requires care, because the direct heat of the torch can easily burn off the metal. The way to do it is to get the base bead shaped, heat the spot where you want the foil shape to go, and then quickly place the foil and press it down. To keep from burning it away you flip over the bead to heat the back (you have to keep beads hot or they’ll crack) while heating the tip of the glass rod to build up a molten blob of glass. When you’ve got enough molten glass you smear it carefully over as much of the foil as you can cover in one swipe. I repeated the heating and swiping process until the foil was completely encased, and then I could heat that area while I did the same on the other side or in another spot. Once all the inclusions were covered and the glass was melted smooth I could add additional decoration. Here are a couple of examples, some decorated with dots, and other decorated with stringers of silvered ivory glass or goldstone.
I’ve also been playing with some other approaches to heart shaped beads. These were all built parallel to the mandrel (ie the hole runs vertically through the bead) and will make nice pendants. I particularly like the winged heart, and plan to do more of them.