Annealing is healing

Welcome to a whole month of Metal meets textile, from A to Z. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of mixing hard metals and soft techniques.

But where do I even start? First things first: I could not do any of this metal work without annealing.

What is annealing, and why is it necessary? 

When you hit, bend, pull or roll metal, it loses its flexibility and becomes hard. You may have experienced this with a copper wire, which in its natural state is soft and bendable, but when you bend it back and forth at the same spot, it becomes brittle and will eventually break.

Whereas you want the final piece to be hardened, you need to make sure that you can shape the metal without breaking it throughout the process. You do this by annealing, which means that you heat up the metal to loosen up the molecule structure, making it return to its original state.

The scientific lingo around this process is also a very human one: Metal gets work hardened  and annealing brings metal back to its stress-free or equilibrium state. Isn’t that like when our bodies get stiff by working too long in the same position and feel smooth again after a hot bath?

Lesson learned for us humans: It takes more than an apple a day to stay well and get the most out of ourselves. We also need to anneal our minds and bodies every now and then.

I hope this finds you in a stress-free state, as far as the circumstances allow.

31 thoughts on “Annealing is healing

  1. Pingback: Keep it simple | galeriaredelius

  2. This is very interesting. As I said in my comment way down on J, I’m more experience with less delicate metalworking. While annealing has a role in a lot of tool making, where you do it to allow shaping before hardening and tempering your blade when you are, I had never considered it would have a similar role in jewelry making. I guess the lack of an edge made me think jewelry is using relatively soft materials to begin with, but I hadn’t factored in work hardening.

    Thanks for visiting me which lead me to find you.

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    • It’s interesting to compare different kind of metal work, big scale and (I guess) steel vs small scale and silver/copper/brass. There are some similarities for sure. That’s what I like with metal, that it’s hard and has its own rules, and that we have to collaborate with it to get the best out of it. Metal sets the rules, but if we play by them, we can master it.

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      • I had an issue of one of the jewelry magazines, must have been 10+ years ago because I lived with my old roommate who is a blacksmith. It featured an artist who did jewelry that incorporate wrought iron. It was beautiful work.

        Wish I remember the artist’s name.

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  3. What a unique theme! ” t takes more than an apple a day to stay well and get the most out of ourselves. We also need to anneal our minds and bodies every now and then.” Really loved that line!

    Cheers!
    Anjali

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  4. Thanks for visiting my post! Annealing is something new for me and so cool (well, not really, but you know what I mean!)
    Both my mom and my daughter love working with crafts like these; and both have attempted making small jewelry pieces.. so I know I am going to enjoy teaching them more about it through your posts

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    • I would be super happy if I can bring some inspiration on to your mom and daughter! I think jewellery making should most of all be fun, not more complicated than necessary (and certainly within what works for your own level of patience). There is a lot you can do with a few simple tools.

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  5. You know I’m not a jewelry maker but you talk about far more than that. 🙂 I thought you weren’t posting – I thought I followed you long ago but something happened and I wasn’t seeing your posts so I have followed again.
    Your explanation of annealing is terrific – now I feel I really understand what i is. You brought it down to earth. The analogies to our own bodies are apt and interesting. Age has damaged quite a lot of the inner structure of my body and heat is one of the best tools for healing the pain and stiffness. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have indeed not been posting much over the last years. I think I got seduced by the speed of Instagram, so I’m enjoying A to Z immensely, as a way to come back!
      It seems that it’s when our bodies “fail” us that we start noticing them. I had a burnout a few years ago, and it made me look at my body differently. It’s more complex than we think, or perhaps it’s our lives that have become too complex for our bodies…?

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    • Thank you for stopping by! Nice to hear that you have been making jewellery, why did you stop? Working with beads is pretty new to me, and I love it for the different colours and shapes. As it happens, for me B is about Beads!

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  6. I took a jewelry class two summers ago and we learned the concepts of work-hardening and annealing. Work-hardening is also a term physical and occupational therapists use in describing a program designed to help an injured person build up strength in order to return to work. So to me your relating annealing to the corresponding process of letting the body relax and reap the results of work hardening gives me an image that will stay with me. I love this connection of art and human nature you’ve made.

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  7. What a wonderful post. I truly appreciate your relating annealing to healing. This really hits home for me as I’m recognizing how inflexible I’ve become through limiting beliefs. The #AtoZChallenge will be an annealing for me as I seek to heal & grow by bending old patterns of thought & behavior to create a broader & more enjoyable equilibrium.

    You have certainly piqued my interest today & I’m looking forward to more. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy to hear this strikes a cord and sparks some interest. It can happen quicker than we think that we loose our equilibrium, I think that’s the art of it all, to know exactly when to take a break, and what kind of break we need.

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  8. The sound of the word “anneal” was familiar to me, but like josna, I couldn’t have told you what it meant. Now maybe I can. Thanks, Gunilla. I’m looking forward to a whole month of Metal meets textile.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love this word: annealing. I actually found the word in a word game today, but I couldn’t have told you what it meant. Now I do! And I love your analogy with human bodies. We get stiff and brittle in our old age, so for renewal and healing we need regular annealing. (And that image at the top–what is it? I can’t place it as vegetable or mineral–is it wood, or some kind of textile?)
    Terrific start to the Challenge. J

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad this resonates with you! I agree, the word itself has something to it, sounds soft and friendly, doesn’t it? The piece that you see being annealed is a metal wire crochet. You’ll see more of them later… They’re placed on a fire brick made especially to absorb the heat while annealing and soldering.

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