Saturday, September 10, 2016

The unwanted piece of furniture

We've owned this corner china cabinet for 20+ years.   About 14 years ago the side panel of glass got cracked when Adam threw a ball and our dog, Lex, chased it and hit his head on the cabinet.  That's the story we were told anyway.
We put tape on it and that's the way it stayed until now.  We decided we no longer wanted it.  It had served it's purpose and we were ready to be rid of it.  Apparently no one else wanted it either.  It's been sitting in our chicken/goat barn for 4 months now.  We offered it to someone for free and he said he'd like it.  He never picked it up.  I put it on a local yard sale page for $60.00.  No one wanted it.  Well, one woman said she'd give me $20.00 for it because the glass would be too expensive to replace.  She's probably right but I decided not to sell it for $20.00.  I know, I was going to GIVE it away earlier but we knew that guy.  I guess I just wasn't in the mood to sell it to a stranger for $20.00.

I had an idea.  What if I took the glass out of the side panels and replaced it with copper?  I had to break the perfectly good glass in the right hand side of the cabinet to get it out.  It felt wrong but I did it anyway.  I cut some leftover roofing copper to fit and went to work.  First I annealed the copper with a propane torch.  This makes it softer and easier to work with.  It's very relaxing and satisfying to watch the metal turn colors as I heat it, at least I think so.

I removed the fire scale (the grey stuff) with vinegar, salt water and a rough sponge.  At first I tried coloring the copper with the torch again to color it.  I wasn't happy with the look once I sprayed it with lacquer and the color became dull.
I showed James what I was doing and the 2 of us agreed it would look good if I did the door too.  So I removed the bowed glass very carefully this time, just in case I had to put it back.

Next I began experimenting with chemicals on copper for a different look.  I've done very little of this in the past so it was really a lot of trial and error.  I had the best luck with ammonia, vinegar and salt water and PH decreaser I found in our closet from when we had a hot tub.  I didn't mix these all together.  I just tried a little bit of this and that, also laying leaves, flowers, rope, etc on the metal to see how things behaved together. I could never repeat what I did because I layered color over color, removed color, added more, etc.  I never knew exactly what would happen until the chemicals were washed off and then the copper oxidized.  As it dried it was like magic and different colors slowly appeared.  I can't even describe how much fun this was.

The finished product is now in our bedroom and I wouldn't even consider selling it, I love it so much.

You really need to see it in person to see some of the detail.  Here are a few leaves imprinted on it.

I think my next attempt with copper is going to be building a garden gate for James since the old one I built out of wood needs some TLC.  Any copper outdoors will weather so it won't be as colorful as this cabinet.