Article: Jennifer Shirley Demonstrates For CMW, March 19, 2016

March 22, 2016 17:39, submitted by Tina Collison (author: Ross Lynch, Links by Jennifer Shirley, Photos by Tina Collison)

Jennifer has provided the following informational links to supplement the CMW Article (below) about her demonstration:

Jennifer Shirley--no Website, but she's setting up a Facebook Page in 2018.

Jennifer Shirley--Resource List

Jennifer Shirley--Hammered Copper Lids Product List

Jennifer Shirley--Scrimshaw Process

Jennifer Shirley--Using Acrylic Mediums

Video From Jennifer Shirley's CMW Turning Learning Center Class, 3/20/16

Jennifer Shirley Demonstrates for Carolina Mountain Woodturners March19, 2016


Jennifer comes to us from Indianapolis to share how she makes copper lidded boxes and embellishes her wood turnings. She is a news director for an Indianapolis TV station and a self taught wood artist.

Morning session:

The first part of the morning was spent showing us how she makes the copper lid for her boxes. Jennifer makes the lid first for sizing purposes. Make the lid and then adjust the box size to accommodate the lid. She likes to put a surprise under the lid whether it is a solder ball or a wood turned attachment to the rivet. She finds copper roofing material is good at a size 22 gauge metal but also can buy various diameter pieces of 18 gauge metal from Rio Grande. She frequently uses 2 inch diameter. The copper discs from Rio Grande are dead soft and doesn’t need to be annealed. To shape the lid she uses jewelry hammers (i.e. ball peen, textured, etc.) and pounds it on a leather bag or a “dap” of hard wood with various concavities turned into it. It doesn’t seem to matter if one hammers from the center out or from outside in.

As you hammer copper it gets stiff so you need to heat it with a propane torch then quench it in water and it becomes more workable again. This can be done multiple times and will add nice rainbow colors to the metal. You should have a plan when you start as to how deep in the bowl or box you want the lid to sit and how rounded you want the lid. Once the shape is done you need to put the lid on something hard (flat piece of steel or anvil) and make sure the rim is flat so the lid won’t rock. If it is not flat, hammer the edges to make it so. Next drill a hole in the middle of the lid. Start by “eyeballing” where the center is and using a punch to mark a drill starting point. You can do all kinds of measures but Jennifer finds her eye works as well. The hole should be made for a 1/8” copper tube or a 3/32” rivet. The copper rivets are available from Amazon for about 100 for $3.00. If you pre-drill the hole prior to shaping the lid the hole will drift off center. If the hole is slightly off center you can make it look on center by using a curved finial.

Next Jennifer solders the rivet or tube to the lid. Her experience with using epoxy is that the finial will not hold. To solder, she scruffs up the rivet and also under where the rivet head will be attached to the disc. She then puts Handy Flux where she wants the solder to go. She then cuts about 5 pieces of 1/8” copper solder and places it around in the flux. She then heats the flux with propane. It will start to bubble and suddenly be DONE. At this point plunge the lid in water. She has also found that you can place flux and solder in patterns on the lid to make interesting designs. If desired, there are all kind of chemical treatments the can be done to color the metal. She didn’t show that at this time but suggest you experiment. To retard further oxidation of the copper, spray with satin lacquer.

Now that the lid is made it is time to make the box. Jennifer prefers close grained wood because she plans to decorate it. She frequently uses 3” x 3” wood and uses enough length to use the end as a jam chuck. She starts by turning the wood into a cylinder and placing a tenon. She transfers the wood to a talon chuck. Next she turns a visual stopping point for the bottom of the box. Her preferred tool is a 3/8” bowl gouge for this part. The next step is to true the top of the box and make a small divot in the center. She then drills a hole the depth of the box. Jennifer prefers a hand held bit but you can mount a chuck and bit in the tail stock. Next she uses a 3/8” spindle gouge, a shallow center to edge, cut to size the lid. If you make a mistake and oversize the opening you can cut off and do again. Once the size is correct go a little deeper then round over the top like you are rolling a bead. At this point shape the outside of the box.

Jennifer uses a 3/8” bowl gouge to shape the outside of the box, but you can use a spindle gouge. To hollow the box, she used a spindle gouge and once part way in changes to a Hunter tool. Be sure to leave a ledge for the lid and it is preferable to undercut it slightly. Sand inside to 400 grit. Now, part off the box. As you part off the box create the size bottom you want and slightly concave the bottom. Leave a small nib when finish the parting off so you don’t tear fibers out of the bottom.

Make a jam chuck (with the remaining chucked wood) to fit inside the ledge. Now mount the bowl and finish and sand the bottom.

Afternoon Session:

The afternoon was filled with numerous embellishing techniques. It is important to plan ahead and Jennifer places score lines to demarcate the locations of decoration. If you are making a small bowl with a wide rim it is nice to lower the rim to the level of the ledge in the bowl. Jennifer likes to round the raised area like a bead and to accentuate this bead with gesso paint, using a high quality acrylic like Golden. To paint the bead, turn the piece by hand and use a sharp edge brush. To clean up mistakes use a 1/4” gouge or a 1/4” skew to clean up the bottom edges of the bead.

The finial does not have to be turned. They can be cut or turned using wood or any material. Since the rivet is soldered on the top, a finial can be held in place with epoxy or E-6000 from Lowes.

Texturing: Jennifer’s go to tool is the dremel engraver. She uses a standard sharp point tip and another tip she has rounded the edges on the grinder. The ground one gives a leather textures appearance. She also uses rotary bits including cones, 3 point chisel burrs, disc cutters, cup burrs and Fox burrs from Germany. I refer you to the photos and the DVD to see the examples of the patterns all these burrs create. Many of these are available from Rio Grande.

The next technique Jennifer demonstrated was what she calls “reverse scrimshaw.” She starts by burning design lines into the wood. This is followed by her texturing using whatever technique she desires. Then she uses leather dye. This is an all or none process as this dye is very liquid and penetrating. She prefers Fiebing’s Dye from Tandy and likes Marine Corp Black. She will also use Eco-Flo. She finds India ink too bluish for her taste. The dye is used instead of gesso because gesso is too thick and will fill in the fine burned lines. Put on 3 coats of high gloss Deft lacquer, sanding with soft grocery bag paper between coats. Next use Liquitex white modeling paste to cover the dyed wood. Squeegee off the excess quickly as it dries fast and use a damp towel to wipe off any paste left behind. If it is a large piece apply the paste in sections. You now have the reverse scrimshaw effect, so finish with another coat of the satin lacquer.

Another nice contrast technique is to apply black gesso on the wood and then cut a design with a reciprocating carver, as shown above.

Also you can try putting white acrylic over a textured design. Sand away any high paint spots and then cover with Speedball printing ink. The ink is applied to the piece with a firm roller. Available at hobby shop, this looks a lot like reverse scrimshaw if you use black and white, but any color can be used with this technique.

Milk Paint: After texturing the first color applied will be on the high spots and the last color applied will be on the low spots. Milk paint comes as a powder and lasts as long as it is in a powder form. Only mix what you will use that day. It will be the consistency of pancake batter. The milk paint web site has lots of examples and suggestions for color combinations. Let each color dry one hour and then when sand starting with a high grit. If you use cherry wood, you will get a copper tint as the tannins react with lime in the milk paint.

Jennifer’s favorite embellishment is burning. She uses a Burnmaster machine and Optima fixed tip pens. Again I refer you to the photos and the DVD to see the examples her techniques. To clean the burn haze after doing pyrography, wipe the piece with 91% rubbing alcohol.

Jennifer looks for anything to embellish her art from all of the above to tile grout. It is fun to try all these new techniques!

Submitted by Ross D. Lynch