I've been working on an unusual custom order. It's for a man that I met at my last art show this May. He wanted a pendant made of the Island of Sylt, an Island in north Germany. I'm documenting my process here for two reasons. One reason is to provide an easy layout with all the photos together in one format for my client. The other reason is to show how easy it is to create unique custom jewelry pieces by making your own templates. The process can work with just about any kind of subject.
My client gave me his key chain of the Island for an example, but he wanted the pendant larger. The first thing I did was google the Island to learn about it, and to print out a map with the exact geographical shape of the Island Sylt. I traced the outline of the Island with a black sharpie.
After I had a black outline, I scanned the map and saved it into a word file. Once it was in the word file, I resized the map to the dimensions of the pendant that I would make. Next, I printed out the smaller outlined map. I cut around the shape of the Island in order to use it to make a template. After it was cut out, I covered it with clear shipping tape and cut around that to get the shape back. Now, I have a water proof and sturdy template.
Notice that I left more tape and paper around the edges where I drew the outline. This was to allow extra space for refining and sanding the edges.
After I had the template made, I rolled out a layer of PMC3 silver clay to a thickness of five cards. I put my template on top of the clay and used an exacto knife to cut out the shape. Sorry, but the photo I took of it at that point just didn't come out. But, here is the next phase where I am sanding it and refining the shape. My client wanted it to be a little three dimensional with sand dunes and the road. Sylt is known for their dunes.
Here, I have the dunes in and I am sanding it to get rid of all the edges. Once I had that done, I took a lead pencil and drew where I wanted the road to go based on the map I had printed out earlier.
I put the road in by using a syringe filled with PMC3 silver clay. Another request I had about this pendant was for it to have a hidden bail on the back. I did this by putting a half loop in a piece of 12 gage fine silver wire. I hammered the two ends flat so they would insert and lay on the clay better. After I made the bail, I marked where it would sit on the pendant. I then cut out indentations into the clay for the two ends of the bail. I inserted the bail and back filled the holes with syringe silver clay. I let it dry and shrink a little and applied some more. Remember, the clay will shrink during firing, but the fine silver wire bail will not. And the last step before drying and firing in the kiln was to add my "J" logo and the .999 silver mark.
And finally, here is the completed pendant, the Island of Sylt. It has been tumbled to work harden, given a patina with Liver of Sulphur, and finely hand polished to bring out the details and give it a nice shine.
So, that's it! What do you think about the pendant, and what do you think about my mini tutorial?