Thursday, October 17, 2013

Diary of a Smash..... a journey to flatland

I started out with this pile of metal junk, all culled from my stash. I chose things that I thought I could make keychains, pendants or shawl pins out of.  I collected them and made a pile. There are water faucet knobs, bobbins, a shoehorn, buckles, spoon, cookie cutters, a little tray, some big grommets, some vintage jewelry pieces, metal washers, tools, nails…..

Then I sorted them into piles of ones that I would heat (or anneal) and ones that I would not. When you anneal the metal it softens it and makes it easier to pound. But some metals like aluminum and pewter melt at such a low temperature that I usually don’t heat those.

Then I took them outside to the firebrick and got out my propane torch. I separated them into brass and silver finishes as t hey react a bit differently.

After torching here is the result. The silvertone nickel plating turned a bluish purple if handled delicately. I love this finish but it tends to fade a bit when I hammer the metal.

Some items didn’t change much, those are mostly steel. the brass gets kind of toasted golden brown or flashes coppery. Some things just turn black usually because they have some kind of lacquer finish that burns.

I’m pretty good at recognizing metals that will melt: namely aluminum, cast pewter and pot metal. But I missed these, the belt buckles which started to get little of silvery melted blobs coming out, a sign that they are probably pewter and so I pulled them out quickly or they would melt into a big blob.

Once cooled I took the piece inside to the anvil to smash away and texture. Here are the finished pieces that were smashable (not all items were so I set those aside) Do you recognize anything?

Here are some of the before and after shots

Which one is your favorite?

Here are some of the keychains I made with parts from this smash.


  1. Thanks for the step-by-step photos -- I learned something about different types of metals. My favorite is the measuring spoon. You transformed it into something from another planet (or maybe an alien space ship).

    Do you use a drill press to make the holes?

  2. Claudia, thanks for your comments. Yes I use a drill press most of the time for large lpieces and harder metal. I love the measuring spoon too!

  3. Funny, I liked the transformation of the humble metal tablespoon measure too!