Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Project Dominican- Custom Pendant for Dan

 Ok, so I'm guilty...I haven't made a post in a while. But it's because I have been working hard on a 'secret' project. Here is the big 'reaveal' with a detailed juicy post.

My brother sent me a sketch for a piece he wanted me to construct as a gift for his girlfriend Patty. It was an AWESOME sketch! In mid-June he mailed the materials from which I would construct the pendant; a piece of coral they found snorkeling and some raw larimar both from their trip to the Dominican Republic.

I had to take both to a lapidary, since I have neither know-how nor equipment up to the task. The organic look of the coral was important to maintain, so I asked the ladies at The Bead Gallery to simply slice the coral in half. The larimar was made into two small circular cabs as well.

Because the rough organic nature of the stone, I felt prongs were best to hold it into place. Part of the design also included a bass clef (made of mixed metals and larimar). Since Dan wanted the bass clef set on top of the coral, this was an especially challenging design. It is also challenging to work with very small cabochons in general (I burned the bezel on one cab initially and had to start over...oh well).

One of the structural challenges I ran into was how to set the larimar cab's and the bass clef so that the coral could be set into place. In the sketch, the larimar cabs are on one cut out piece of sliver and the rest (the curvy part of the bass clef) was a separate piece of silver. Both are shown bending over the stone. In order to get the coral in place we modified the bass clef to be one piece (so the larimar is attached to the curved part). This allowed me to 'slide' the coral into place from right to left.

Based on past experience, cutting sheet metal and bending it over a stone can be quite tricky to get the right angles and lines to match a sketch. So I needed to do a fair amount of testing to see what would happen. Some pics along the way....

I continued by putting on a third prong (upper right), attaching the bass clef to the copper base, then made and attached the bail (the part the chain will go through)...
Setting the coral and larimar stones were the last steps before the finishing...and boy did the finishing take F O R E V E R!
Here is the final product with a brushed finish on both the copper and silver:

This project was full of downs (burnt bezels and bass clefs, prongs getting detached during solder of multiple steps, and even breaking off the tip of the bass clef when attaching it to the copper base) but it was also full of ups (getting more experience at prong settings, applying tricks of the trade, having success bending copper over the stone). It was not an easy construction! But in the end I am completely delighted to have finished it, and to have been able to do such a crazy complicated project without going completely insane.

You may be wondering, what ever happened to that other half of the coral...well you will find out in due time!

1 comment:

  1. Anna, this piece is SO cool and unique! I am amazed!


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