|There was only one shell with a hole!|
Remember how I like to remind you that you can add your own creative voice to any project? Even one where there are specific parameters you have to work within? Well, I took my own advice and used an unusual object for the cab. In general a cabochon can be defined as a flat bottomed, domed stone. But I don't have much of a feel for mineral stones like Lapis, or Tiger's Eye, or Malachite. I wanted to use something else for my sample.
A friend had sent me a goody bag containing shells, deer antler slices (naturally shed - don't worry!), small pebbles, and other interesting bits. One of the shells had a hole in the "hinge" portion that intrigued me. I don't think it was a natural hole, but it set my imagination spinning and made me wonder how I could make use of it in my design. I did some sketching and some online surfing and came up with a seaweed and pearl theme. After enlarging the shell 119% (to account
for shrinkage and for the bezel wire) I made some paper templates so I'd have a good idea of how the construction might go together. I wanted the area where the stone would be set to be perfectly flat, but thought a little 'movement' would enhance the seaweed effect. So, I made my pendant in two parts. Letting each part dry separately gave me the opportunity to sand each to perfection before they were joined. I couldn't really think of how to drape the seaweed while keeping the top part level. I'm sure there's a way, and I'll probably do some more experimenting with this design in the future.
|I used a pencil to roll some definition|
and dimension into my paper seaweed
|Some dimensional wallpaper|
gave the perfect weedy texture
and LOS did the rest.
To add to the deep sea theme, I used a jeweler's saw with the dry, unfired clay to cut a seaweed silhouette into the back. I always like to add a little surprise for the wearer to discover. After firing, polishing, and patinating the piece, I sewed up a little magic with some glass seed beads, pearls, antique coral, and free-form stringing to embellish the hole in the shell. I haven't actually permanently set the shell yet because I'm not quite sure how I want to hang the pendant. I think maybe a combination of pearls and chain - but I want to have a clear idea before I complete the setting. Imagine if I pushed the bezel over and then decided I needed to solder the chain. That would be a disaster!
This particular 'stone setting' is definitely too ambitious for a student to have completed before the end of class. Just stringing the little beads took two hours. (Oh, to have good eyesight and hand/eye coordination again. Sigh.) But having samples like this one demonstrates how one can take a skill learned in a workshop and let your imagination run wild to create something totally unexpected.
Next time a class project requires a certain element, try thinking out of the box. A true cabochon may very well be a turquoise gem stone, but if you define it as a 'flat backed, domed object' you could also use an antique button, beach pebble, a watch crystal with a photo underneath, or a variety of other artifacts. Try to find a way to add your own stamp to any project.