Wednesday, April 28, 2010

She Sells Sea Shells...

I've begun to delve a little deeper into the world of metalworking, and just finished a project that I'm quite proud of. I love jewelry with moving parts and hidden secrets, and this piece has both! Using my hand tools and a sheet of copper, I created a pretty little seashell pendant that opens and closes. Hiding inside the shell is a little sterling silver "pearl."

This pendant was a little difficult to make, since it needed to open and close and I have never made anything with movement before. After drawing a clam shell template and cutting out the top piece of the shell, I used my center punch to etch lines in it to resemble the grooves in a real seashell. Next, I cut out a copper disc with my disc cutter, and used a doming block to shape it. At first, I wasn't sure how to connect the two pieces together, I just knew that it needed to open like an actual shell. So I decided to make a type of hinge by punching out a slot in the domed half, and wrapping the top piece over and through the back. This was the hardest part, getting it to wrap around loosely enough to open and close smoothly without the pieces falling apart.

Once the shell was complete, I added a copper chain and two sea-themed charms: a seahorse charm that I have been wanting to use (I love seahorses) and a little sand dollar that I made. For the pearl, I melted down a scrap piece of sterling silver into a ball. My plan was to solder the ball to the shell, but I accidentally left my torch on the ball too long and melted it. Eek! Then I noticed what a cool texture the melted silver created, so I added a bit more silver and melted it as well. Finally, I soldered another silver ball in place, and then threw the whole piece in the tumbler to polish it up. When I checked on it a while later, it was nicely polished but still had a bit of a rainbow color on the surface. I may still decide to polish it back to its original finish, but I thought the sheen made it look more realistic so I decided to leave it for now.

I had a lot of fun making this seashell pendant, especially it helped me to break out of my own shell and realize that I can make more than just flat stamped pendants if I put my mind to it. I plan on making one or two more to sell in my shop, so keep an eye out for it in the next couple of weeks.

Here are some pictures of the finished piece:

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