Since the bodies of the insects need to be exactly shaped and very dimensional, the first step would be to carve two matrices with which to shape the silver. I traveled up to Mud Bay to work with my former studio partner Bill Dawson, and learn how to carve a matrix. After acquiring a suitable heavy bronze piece, the carving could begin. These are the tools I will use to create the matrices that will shape the silver for the bodies of the insects. Very tiny chisels and burnishers, and a Very Small Hammer.
The first matrix is outlined on the bronze block, and carving away the excess begins to create the shape
two mirror image matrices need to be created, so I get lots of practice using the hammer and chisels to carve with
creating the matrices took almost two days
to test how the matrix is progressing, plasticine clay is pressed into the mold, which shows where further work is needed shaping and smoothing the design
and, of course, it is really challenging to get a matched pair of bodies
finally 23 ga sheet sterling silver is driven into the two matrices, and the bodies of the insects are cut away from the extra metal using a jewelers saw
the shaped bodies and finished enamel laid atop the working drawing - looking pretty good so far...
additional "bug eyes" will be added to the bodies - tiny domed silver discs, which will be surrounded by beaded silver wire
These component parts will be soldered on to each body: a decorative eye, and bands of beaded wire for the abdominal stripes
One set of body comonents soldered in place, and another one will need to be done before the next step. Here you can also see the notches carved into the thorax to make space for the future legs
By the end of the third day, I was able to solder the bodies to the backing, which will form the wings and support the rest of the piece
the corrugated wire that trims the wing edges is patterned using Bronze Age technology. I used a bronze die on the silver wire, stamping on a stone anvil using a stone as a hammer. It worked astonishingly well, and in some ways was easier than using a modern hammer.
Once back at Acorn Cottage after my weekend up at Mud Bay, the next steps were to shape and solder to the backing plate the corrugated wire that will become the edges of the wings. I made good use of my new titanium strip clamps to hold the wires in place
Sawing away the excess backing plate, once the wing edges are all soldered down and the inner wing area has been shaped in a raised curve
Getting a sense of just where to place the enamel to leave enough room for the legs. The bezel will need to be carefully soldered in place. Each subsequent soldering operation becomes more and more tricky, figuring out how to get enough heat where needed without affecting any previous work
The bezel to hold the enamel is soldered in the center of the piece
The lower two legs are soldered to the edges of the bezel, and held in place in the notches in the insect thorax
The upper two legs are carefully shaped to overlap without rising too high on the bezel, then also soldered to the bezel edge
The last part soldered in place will be the bail that the necklace will hang from. This is a good place to stamp my makers mark - the running horse from my heraldry, and the crown because I hold a Royal Commission from the Crown of An Tir.
Once the soldering is done, the entire piece is polished, the enamel set in the bezel prepared for it, and I also fabricated three small decorative disc-pendants to hang from the bottom edge and add that aspect of movement so very appealing to our distant ancestors and to many of us today. The pendant is completed...
May SMART goals (x=extra)
|#||THINGS MADE||THINGS FIXED||THINGS GONE|
|1||earbud case||replace button patches||chicken house|
|2||Ursa pullover||pruned parking strip||chicken waterer|
|3||raspberry sauce||renewed raised planters||lots of yard waste|
|4||tiny rag doll ||plant salad table||paper recycling|
|5||2nd tiny rag doll||plant tomato starts||random garden plastic|
|6||tween undergown||grapevine pruned ||paper recycling|
|7||tween apron dress||green onions planted ||bin of straw|
|8||tween undergown||I-cord edging||yard waste bin|
|9||tween undergown ||flowering plum pruned||-|
today's gratitude - the chance to expand my knowledge, and to create lasting beauty of great meaning for others, and have that be my livelihood