Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eye and heart Pendant - Sterling enamel and Ellensburg Blue

This is a piece I made for a co-worker as a present to his wife for their aniversary:

This side eventually held a stone, but maybe I didn't get a final picture.

Here are some pictures of the process:


prelim sketch of concept

Formed a dome in sterling

Made a belly button shape

I'm looking at you

Cut out the basic shape of the heart.  Cut your heart out!
At this point I burnished up the heart with the agate burnisher.  I was thinking of a flat border, but decided a rounded one would work better and have a softer look.

On the top right, this is the start of the border

I cut a deep v shape to bend the wire down into the top of the heart, one less seem.

made a couple of bezels, one for each side and to fit the curved shape.

little closer

working the wire around and soldering it into shape, sort of a pain, but I'm getting better

marks to try to solder it somewhat straight

stone side

now for some enamel.  basically powdered glass.  set oven to 1381 degrees and cook until tender

it took a couple of goes

pretty good

depletion gilding - this happened before the enamel

The metal is sterling silver.  Sterling is an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.  This alloy was developed in Sterling England and is used because fine silver (99.9% silver) is too soft for practical use in jewelry.  When Sterling tarnishes that is a chemical reaction to the 7.5% copper.  Fine silver does not tarnish.  So, there is a process called depletion gilding that I use.  The piece is gilded in the sense that the very outermost layer is 99.9% silver.  But it isn’t plated.  What has happened is that by repeatedly heating the piece and subjecting it to a weak acid bath, the copper in the outermost layer is leached into the bath leaving a very thin layer of pure silver.

This one turned out pretty good.  It is hard to say how long it took because I always work on multiple things at once.  I have a short attention span, like my dog Belle.

My dog Belle!

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