I was recently invited to donate a piece for auction at the upcoming Movers and Shakers Gala on May, 22nd 2010. This event benefits the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra and Lakeland College. A few years ago, my husband, Andy – at that time Music Director of the Sheboygan Symphony – and I attended the 1st Movers and Shakers Gala. Patterned after Dancing with the Stars, the evening featured a ballroom dance competition where local celebrities were paired with professional dancers in performances of their chosen dance. We all got to vote for our favorite couple, and a winner was selected at the end of the evening. The evening was a lot of fun…getting the opportunity to dust off my own dance shoes and take a twirl on the floor with my husband was the icing on the cake.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll recognize the pendant I made for this event as one of my recent designs. In case you are new to A Talent for Design, here is the original design:
The final piece:
(If you can’t attend the Movers and Shakers Ball on the 22nd and would like to own one of these pendants, don’t despair. Another one is already in process at my bench.)
Recently, I wrote about a design and fabrication project that I was commissioned to do by a relative. The commission was to create a pendant setting for an oval Sunstone that she had in her possession. In this particular case, the challenges were rather daunting, and if this hadn’t been a relative, I would have politely declined. The Sunstone face had quite a few large chips, and the back was uneven and crumbling.
I started the project by sanding the back of the stone to level it out and make setting possible. As I worked carefully on the stone, I discovered as chunks fell off the back, that originally the back had been the front. Tiny micr0-mosaics began to emerge. Unfortunately, the micro-mosaic inlay was also damaged, so I couldn’t make use of the design. To stabilize the stone, I created a bezel out of masking tape and poured black resin level over the back. Once this was cured, I was able to sand the resin down so that the stone wouldn’t be so bulky.
The next step was to fabricate the bezel itself. My design incorporated strategically placed leaves to hide the rather large flaws on the face of the stone. I hand-fabricated each of these, as well as creating the corkscrew “vines” that would tie the leaves together visually.
Much to my great frustration, I had just put the finishing touches on my bezel/leaf combination when I discovered, in trying to set the stone, that the bezel I had created from 24 gauge Argentium Sterling sheet was too thick to push successfully over the stone. I had to scrap the entire bezel, carefully cutting it apart so that I could extract the stone without damaging it. (I didn’t damage the stone, but I did slice my finger in the process.)
Bezel #2 needed to be constructed differently and I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I realized that re-fabricating the original design with much thinner gauge Argentium Sterling sheet wouldn’t solve the problem. Because the stone top was completely flat, I would still end up with unattractive puckers in the bezel setting when I went to bend it over the stone. (Think furniture and upholstery…if you are trying to upholster a flat round table with a piece of round cloth, you’ll have extra folds of fabric to overlap.)
In venting to my husband about the problem, he inadvertently gave me the perfect solution when he said, “too bad you couldn’t set the stone from the back.” (If I had emoticon capability on this blog, you’d see a light bulb here.) I ended up constructing a new setting – a pedestal prong design- for the stone. In this type of setting, a collar of metal surrounds the stone, and prongs soldered to the outside of the bezel are bent over the stone to affix it in place. For my adaptation, the longer end of the prongs extended to the back of the piece so that I could bend the prongs over the back instead of the usual over-the-front setting. The beauty of this solution is that I could also solder all the leaves on the front of the bezel strategically in place to hide the stone’s flaws, and also display the stone’s back with the tiny micro-mosaic original flower visible.
Here is the finished piece (front view):
And, back view (note the micro-mosaic flower):
So in the end, although I might be sprouting a few gray hairs from the frustrations I encountered during this process (not to mention actual blood and sweat), I did learn some very valuable lessons, including even a new setting technique!
Tonight’s CAD rendering is a preview of my newest design in the Shadows Collection. Entitled Seascape, these earrings will be hand-pierced in Argentium Sterling Silver with flush-set round brilliant diamonds. They will be given a patinaed finish to blacken the metal. Please visit my shop at Etsy to see the Autumn Leaves earrings which form a part of this collection, as well as several other newly listed pieces.
Earlier last week in A Design A Day – Day 10 , I posted my CAD rendering showing patinaed silver “leaves” with flush-set diamonds. The actual earrings in progress were photographed at my bench and posted as well. Hand-pierced in Argentium Sterling Silver, these dangle earrings feature flush-set round brilliant diamonds as well as a blackened patina finish. For purchasing information please visit my Etsy shop tomorrow!