365 Days of Earrings

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Copper's Patina

I can't remember the last time I felt so sick that I left school early. But this afternoon at 3, after hours of feeling alternately hot and then cold, my throat aching with every swallow, my nose running, and my eyes bleary, I decided that I could do no good for anyone. I drove home in daylight, started a fire in the woodstove, brewed some tea, and nestled into my favorite chair.

This morning in 3rd grade we made copper amulets with our 7th and 8th grade mentors. I cut the copper sheeting into squares and folded the edges to protect young fingers. Each of the children designed an image to etch into the soft copper using a pencil. I've been doing this project with 3rd graders for many years. Each year, one of the mentors announces, "I remember this! I still have my amulet."

I wore my only remaining copper earrings today, Canadian one cent coins. Most of the coin was cut away, leaving the rim and the maple leaf. I wonder whether Canadian pennies, like our U.S. coins, are now alloys containing mostly zinc.

My amulet has aged nicely over the years since I first conceived of this project about 10 years ago. Perhaps copper's patina is one of the reasons that I love copper so much--a metal that ages gracefully, gaining a patina instead of rusting to dust, tarnishing like silver, or continuing to gleam unchanged by time, like gold.

No comments: