Today is the last day of my “one-a-day” challenge. I can’t actually believe it’s been 31 jewellery making days since I started this – time really has gone quickly and I’m feeling sad that I’m at the end.
Well, you’d think that I’d choose something nice and easy for my last day, something I couldn’t muck up and turn into another disaster! Sorry, but you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried!
Today, I wanted to do a piece that was special to me and I have a beautiful silver ankh earring (again, I had lost one of the pair) which needed to be made into something really beautiful. For those of you that know Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, The Endless each have a gallery of symbols that they use to call each other – and Death’s symbol is an ankh.
The design is of a ankh in a frame, as if it is from one of the galleries of The Endless. The background is of cogs and watch pieces and the frame is to be made out of lots of small pieces (like an old ironwork frame that has rusted into twisted shapes) as I also identify the character of Death with the concepts of time (as in time running out, and the end of time, etc.) and entropy.
The main part of the brooch was made in PMC3 – the cogs and watch pieces were made using a unique stamp I had made previously, and I added thin strips of PMC3 to the edges to make them level. I cut off the loop at the top of the silver ankh earring (to make it look better) and, as it seemed to be silver all the way through, embedded it into the middle of the brooch. After drying in the little electric oven, I added the brooch findings to the back (made by hand – I will do a proper tutorial on this soon) and my name stamp. Another 20 minutes in the electric oven and it was time to torch-fire the brooch.
When I torch-fire things that are larger than normal, I place small pieces of fire-brick around the piece (almost like a mini-kiln) and it keeps the heat around the piece better than if I just fired it on a flat board. It worked really well and the piece fired perfectly – or so I thought. When I turned the brooch over (I had fired it face-down because of the brooch findings on the back) the ankh had deformed and turned a really funny grey, not like the normal fire-scale I was expecting.
I filed the face lightly and the ankh shone silver underneath the patina, so I thought it was just a reaction with the PMC3 but, oh no, it turns out that the earrings were base-metal with a foil of silver folded around it. I found that out because the foil just lifted off the base-metal when I investigated further. I had a moment of panic as I tried to remove it from the brooch but, I am so glad that the ankh came away pretty cleanly after prising the central base-metal away and then grinding off the foil with the rotary tool. I was left with an ankh-shaped indent rather than the raised shape I had originally wanted. Oh well, I would have to wait and see how it all ended up before I passed judgement – sometimes, something wonderful comes out of disaster (but also, sometimes it just ends up in the scrap bin!).
The frame was made from lots of tiny scrap pieces of 0.4mm sterling sheet. I drew the outline of my brooch onto the firing board as a guideline and then placed my fluxed pieces down and soldered them all together with easy solder. (Sounds simple, but getting them all to stay where I wanted and then for everything to solder at the same time was really tricky.) Both pieces were placed in the pickle pot and then washed before going into the tumbler.
A piece of 0.8mm wire was made into a coil with two straight ends, the longer one to be the brooch pin and the shorter one to be part of the spring. This too was thrown into the tumbler, to work harden and polish.
After tumbling, the face of the brooch was given a patina and sealed with Renaissance Wax. Then the frame had a hole drilled into each corner and four corresponding holes were drilled into the brooch. The frame was attached to the brooch with “rivets” ((this was the first time I’ve ever done rivets in jewellery) which were short pieces of 1mm sterling wire threaded through both pieces and the ends hammered so that they splayed slightly, holding the pieces in place.
The brooch pin was added and the piece was finished. Okay, it didn’t look quite how I had imagined; but as a final piece it was apt. I had used leftover pieces and tried some new things. I had learned some lessons the hard way and had to get myself out of a fix with some unorthodox Macgyver-ing. I’m sorry that it wasn’t the amazing piece of jewellery I had wished to make – but I learned a lot making it and that’s something I can be proud of.
Today is not the end to the making or the posting, or even the making from left-overs! Just the challenge of making something every single day. Please remember that my normal working hours are only on a Friday (when my little one is a Nursery) and any other time that I can snatch from my full-on schedule as a full-time mum (and cat-nurse). This really has been a challenge but one that I would encourage anyone to try. Thank you for being on the journey with me.