Tuesday, May 9, 2017

the Golden Branch Laurel medallion...

in which our plucky heroine can finally share last months commission, for those curious about what I actually do for work

...this Laurel medallion, which took up a good deal of my time last month, was awarded this weekend, but the story started over a month ago, when S contacted me.

The central motif is a good example of adding something personally meaningful to SCA regalia. In this case, since the person being elevated is a former Bard of the Mists, the Golden Branch symbol made a delightful center to the Laurel wreath, which is done in a metalwork style inspired by the 8th to 10th C metalwork found in the Viking Age archaeological artifacts from Birka Sweden...

My initial sketch that I sent to my client, brass filigree in the center of a silver medallion, and the filigree bent to size and shape prior to soldering:

The first idea doesn't always work out as planned, and we need to switch to plan B... sometimes when soldering brass/bronze to silver, particularly if using high temperature hard solder, the brass starts to dissolve into the silver. (since hard solder is basically silver alloyed with brass, and the flux and heat encourages the formation of a eutectic alloy which melts at a much lower temperature than either of the two separate metals)

Plan B... creating the central Golden Branch motif separate from the Laurel wreath:

The central motif is only about 3/4" in diameter, and will be riveted in place behind and central to the silver outer portion... I decided that the Golden Branch looked better with a solid golden ring around the outer edge, instead of a scalloped cut on the silver

Working on custom regalia sometimes often means repeated careful drawings... most of the folks that order my work do not live nearby, drawings are a good way to clarify what is being done, and what is desired (plus on paper is a lot faster to change things up than in the metal!)

The silver outer ring is roughly cut to shape on the outside; I carefully cut the inner circle to almost big enough, then kept filing away a little bit at a time until the two pieces fit together neatly.

Some very thin twisted wire shapes are bent into the Laurel wreath and will be soldered in place, as is the beaded wire for the outside edge. (this is remarkably similar to the wire bending needed to create the motifs for my cloisonne enameling) Important to mark the places where the rivets will hold the whole thing together, to allow space for them.

I love placing the almost finished piece next to the drawing, how it shows what I feel is a successful translation of idea to sketch to finished object...

Once the medallion is fabricated, the final portion is the bail, which connects the pendant to a chain or ribbon... in this case I first stamped a decorative pattern on some sheet silver, soldered wire along each edge, shaped it into a cylinder with an extension, and soldered a reinforcement where the ends joined inside the bail. That done, it was pickled to clean off the oxides and flux, the end cut to a neat shape that would fit on the back, and then the bail, inner motif and outer Laurel wreath were drilled and riveted together.

My new mini drill press came in very handy indeed drilling all the holes for this project. Fabricating the eleven silver rivets was next, as S and I decided at this point that silver would look more like the Birka metalwork than using my favorite brass rivets...

Once the whole piece was riveted together, finished and polished, this gives a better idea of the scale of the completed medallion:

*(personalised regalia is my specialty, commissions gladly accepted)


  1. What a beautiful thing, and so skilfully made! Fascinating to see the process

  2. This piece is stunning! Thank you so much for sharing the progress and process with us. If I'm ever in a position to recommend your work, I would happily do so!