(Original article 18/8/2016)
Sun cross, solar cross or solar wheel is an ancient symbol for the sun. It was used particularly in Europe during the Neolithic period and Bronze Age. Pictures of these crosses or wheels can be found for example in the Scandinavian rock art that was made on the Bronze Age (1700–500 BCE). Solar wheel symbols were also placed in the graves. The symbol depicted also a wheel of the chariot of the Scandinavian sun goddess Sunna or Sól who drove her chariot across the sky every day. Chariots have been found in some graves like in Trundholm, Denmark. Trundholm chariot carries a big gold plated sun disc. Also in Celtic mythology, this symbol represented the sun.
I'm going to explain how I make my copper sun crosses. Someone else might make things differently but this is my way. I wanted to make some bigger sun crosses this time, the ones that could be worn as pendants. So I ordered 3 mm copper cord. When I saw the wire I wasn't sure if I could even bend it into circles. But fortunately, copper is so soft that I managed. Cutting was more difficult but not impossible.
1. Making the ring of the sun cross
First I formed the rings of the sun crosses by wrapping the copper wire around something round. This time I used a broken vacuum cleaner's pipe. It was the right size. This was surprisingly easy even though the wire was so thick.
After that, I fastened the "spring" to the clamp for sawing. It is a lot easier this way than if it was kept in a hand.
After the spring had been sawn into rings the rings had to be closed as tightly as possible.
Before the soldering, the joins have to be protected with the borax mixture.
Then I placed the pieces of soldering wire. These must touch the ring on both sides of the join. Placing the pieces can sometimes be nerve-wracking with small items. I usually wet a brush into borax and then pick a piece of soldering wire with the brush. They almost magically stick to it. My brush is a little bit coarse. And of course, these wire pieces fly around when the borax fluid is boiling when heating. It helps a little if you heat the ring a little before placing the solder wire piece and after that start with a modest heat.
The item is heated with a butane torch moving the torch around the whole ring evenly. And when the soldering wire melts and spreads on both sides of the join the job is done.
After the heating, the ring will be almost black and have to be cleaned in a solution of citrine acid and water. The solution must be hot, but not boil, so an old coffee machine is perfect for it. After this, the ring can be hammered if wanted.
2. Making a cross
If I used silver soldering wire there would be wires of different melting points available. The copper soldering wire, I think, is not quite as efficient as the silver one. And I haven't found wires with different melting points. But if you don't want the silver colour to your copper pieces you have to use copper-coloured wire. Different melting points would help at the next phase: I would use the highest point wire for the ring and lower point wire for the cross, and the danger of opening the ring join would be smaller when fastening the cross to the ring.
I used 2 mm copper wire for the cross spokes. First I cut the copper wire pieces to the length of the ring diameter. Then bend the other a little in the middle, so it stays better on top of the other one. Once the pieces were in a form of a cross I hit the crossing point with a hammer. The pieces can also be taped down to stay in place better.
I soldered the pieces together at the crossing. Then hammered the ends of the snippets and filed sharp ends. After soldering the cross must be cleaned.
I placed the cross on top of the ring, hopefully centrally. Again fit the soldering wire pieces so that they were preferably in touch with both the cross and the ring. When this combination is heated with a torch the cross spokes get hot more rapidly than the ring and the soldering wire melts first on the spokes. When continuing heating the ring evenly after this the solder will spread to the ring, too, and the spokes are fastened to the ring. The item is cooled in cold water and checked that everything stays fastened, and then cleaned again. I finished the solar crosses with some patina and colour and fastened the cords. Now they are ready to wear.