Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cookie Tin Cutup

I scored this incredible Chinese cookie tin at a yard sale last week.  It is gorgeous:  plum
and red with bands of yellow and green and frolicking babies, some with musical instruments, others with fruit and fans.  Usually I think simply cutting out graphics and displaying them as jewelry elements is not so interesting, but these just beg for that treatment.  So, out with the 7/0 sawblades and narrow frame saw, beeswax and reading glasses -- I'm cutting them out, still not certain how I will use them.  And the exercise of working in a batch has improved my tin-sawing skills quite a bit.  I have some hints to share with you:
  • Use a 7.0 sawblade, the kind with a rounded back, so it will turn curves easily.  Sure, they are not much bigger than a strand of hair, but they have alot of teeth to attack that thin tin.
  • If you push the saw frame, you will break the blade, so you need a light touch.  I find that if I avoid over-gripping the saw, holding it with fingers curled just enough to hold onto it, that helps.
  • Tip the saw at a slight angle while allowing it to do the work, keeping hand and arm relaxed.  As you approach a corner, tilt the blade upright and saw in place before turning.
  • Beeswax, soap, or a product sold for the purpose helps to lubricate the blade.  Don't use too much.
  • Any vibration of the tin interferes with cutting, so use the smallest slot of your benchpin to support the work.
  • It helps to use a 2B pencil to draw a line where you want to cut.  Then, as you cut look at that line.  This will help your accuracy a whole lot.
Because the tin is quite thin, after deburring the edges with a riffle file, I like to collage some paper onto the back.  This is a fun way to carry the theme and add interest to the back, as well as beef up the thin material.  Here I used a page from an old kanji script herbal.

I am not sure just what will happen to all these jolly babies, but a minute ago I discovered an old glass tube that formerly held a Chinese remedy, complete with label and waxed cork.  Hmmmmm . . . . . .

Here's a first effort though -- a pair of earrings with mercury glass bugle bead tassels.

And I just happened to have a bill of hell money for the back.  It's the "Last Gig in the Forbidden City."  They're playing a flute and an oboe of some kind. 


  1. How fun! What a great score! Love the earrings.

  2. What a score! You saw, you bought, you saw. I've only ever cut it out with snips, probably more exacting the way you do it.
    Delightful little wonders!

  3. and here i just cut with snips and shears!

  4. If you want a compound outline and greater detail without deforming the metal, a jeweler's saw is the answer.

  5. looks hard and painful.
    turned out real cute.

  6. Not hard at all, and with my skier's thumb sprain, much easier than cutting with snips, and more accurate!