Copper in the Arts

October 2012

Whim Originals: Unique Jewelry with An Industrial Edge

By Nancy Ballou

Copper necklace Copper necklace.

Photograph courtesy of Lynne Wiencek

There is nothing fluffy or frilly about Lynne Wiencek's creations. Her copper jewelry, which originates as hardware, is never sketched or planned, but rather discovered through experimentation and playing with materials.

A middle school art/computer graphics teacher, then a project manager for software companies, Wiencek went to Port Austin to help care for her aging parents, and stayed. She began making jewelry utilizing buttons, beads, crystals and even objects like the gears on her steampunk necklace which employs a new and complex technique. Pieces are buffed with a brush to impart a high shine and contain three coats of varnish to prevent discoloration. Most designs cannot be replicated since they are one-of-a-kind. Because of her individualized style, she named her business Whim Originals.

"I transitioned to working with metals due to my love for tools and the physicality of pounding, sawing, heating and hammering," says Wiencek. "I like equipment with history and look at yard/garage sales or Ebay. When I first arrived in Port Austin, an octogenarian lapidary/gemstone artist adopted me and my work and gave me many tools. I think of him often whenever I pick up a hammer he has contributed."

Wiencek is drawn to the versatility of copper.

"Copper is my favorite," she says. "I love the color, the glow it has when buffed and polished. I love the rainbow of colors produced when using a fire patina and the fantastic contrasts in light and dark when oxidized. It has that earthy warm quality that other metals don't. The malleability is special because while heated copper can be hammered and formed easily, it becomes strong when work hardened."

Steampunk Pendant Steampunk style pendant.

Photograph courtesy of Lynne Wiencek

As for technique, Wiencek reveals, "I experiment all the time with processes I can use to manipulate copper. I constantly use the rolling mill I was given as a Christmas present to roll out wire for rings and earrings, pressing patterns into the metal with pattern sheets. I'm also practicing fold forming and want to try etching."

Wiencek lives 90 minutes from any retail stores or malls and the hardware store nearby is open year round so, "I often go there just to browse. It's a valuable resource especially for my industrial-style creations. Some local electricians have donated copper wire for me to recycle into my jewelry, but my main source of material is the Internet. I order from far and wide and am on very good terms with the post office. Monster Slayer is my go to for copper wire and sheet."

Wiencek spoke of her group membership. "In July of 2011, I was juried into The Artisan Group out of California. It focuses on getting artists' work in front of celebrities, stylists and publicists plus offers great opportunities. My business card was included in celebrity gift bags at the 2012 Academy Awards. I have gifted celebrities Ginnifer Goodwin, Drew Barrymore, Christina Hendricks and Amanda Seyfried."

Her latest focus is wire wrapping or "stitching" with copper wire. A frame is formed, then a 24-gauge, copper-supporting wire mesh is made. A ninety foot roll may be used in the process. Wiencek plans to continue working with larger, more complex pieces and the leather/copper combinations which have become her passion.


Whim Originals, P.O. Box 728, Port Austin, MI

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