Titanium

atoz-TT is for Titanium in this Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

I sometimes use titanium in my jewellery. I was introduced to this metal in a summer workshop in jewellery design in 1994. I was a total beginner then, with very limited skills to use any of the tools or techniques involved in jewellery making.

The assignment was to make a necklace. On the first day we were sent out in the surrounding (all nature) to collect inspiration. I  brought some grass back to the studio. I had no idea how to use that in a necklace design, but I’ve always loved grass.

We were introduced to titanium, niobium and tantalum, “three sisters”, as our teacher called them. Titanium can be anodised and take on the most wonderful colours. We got the chance to do it, to see for ourselves how this works.

The gallery below shows the titanium pieces that we anodised during the course, and the grass necklace I made (here unpolished, sorry for that!). Then some photos of titanium as I use it now: oxidation by heat, simply using the burner. That gives colour tones that float into each other and the range of colours is more limited. I like building surfaces of the raw cut side of titanium sheet.

So, why don’t I anodise titanium, to get those bright and vibrant colours? Well, for two reasons: You first need to clean the pieces thoroughly and that involves using acids. I also do not have the knowledge (or equipment) to do this on my own. Too much “acids and voltage” involved, I’d need a proper training first. And besides, I very much like the floating colours I get with the burner.

Our teacher in that summer course was Christer Jonsson, a well known Swedish jewellery designer. In Sweden, he was one of the pioneers in using these metals within jewellery.

He was an extremely inspiring teacher, and I am still very grateful for those few summer days in 1994. Christer, if you ever read this: THANK YOU – TACK!

You find some of his work on this Swedish artists’ website, and don’t miss to check his current studio, Jungfruhuset, and explore the gallery with art jewellery (like the Dance macabre brooch or the Cupidos Garden collar) and the collection (do you go for the Cat and rat pendant or rather the Masks ear-pendants?).

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9 thoughts on “Titanium

    • Thank you Linda! I had seen the interview with you on ASCI and the photos. I find it fascinating, and although I cannot really follow entirely the scientific part of it, I love seeing the effects!
      I do think that what you see on the titanium are interference colours. Wikipedia helped me out here: “Titanium may be anodized to produce various colors, which varies the thickness of the surface oxide layer and causes interference fringes.” I guess (but am not sure) that anodisation allows for a both thicker and more even layer of oxide (= more defined colours), whereas what I do – simply heat up the metal with a flame (the flame doesn’t touch the metal, it’s just close enough to heat it) – builds a thinner and less even oxide layers.
      I have often seen the similarity with colours on oil, but never knew if/how there is a connection.
      To be honest, it’s beyond me to grasp the process in scientific terms, but I’m really happy to play with it!
      Thanks for your comment and input, I really appreciate it!

      • Ah, ASCI! I wondered how you’d found my blog. Thank you for sharing your insight about the interference colors on titanium. Your explanation makes perfect sense, but I hadn’t thought it through myself.

        • I found your blog first, and via your blog, I found the ASCI article. You had made a comment somewhere that you like power lines (at Karen’s Draw and shoot, I think), and I do to (I love them!), so I got curious to come over to your blog. That’s how it goes… 😉

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