The story of a custom pendant

Hello Aquilla followers!  I want to share a journey with you, the journey of a custom pendant from start to finish.  Last week I was contacted by a woman in PA who wanted to have a custom piece made for her daughter, who is soon going to be completing her doctoral program.  (I do have permission to share the story, of course!)  This woman told me in the email that the last few years have been difficult for her family, yet they have come through the hard times stronger and closer.  There were some things which this woman wanted to incorporate into the design....strength, her bond with her daughter, and Vermont, a place they both hold dear.  

After re-reading the email a few times, I took my sketch book outside and just started to draw ideas.  I felt strongly that a spiral needed to be the main design element because I had been looking at a book of Southwest petroglyphs in the 24 hours before I was contacted by this woman and had been very drawn to the spirals in the book, although I was not sure why I found them so compelling until her email came through.  For some reason, I was seeing a line cutting across the spiral.  This eventually became a mountain ridge line, which was meant to represent this woman's love for Vermont.

I felt like a stone needed to be part of the design and was at first drawn to ocean jasper.  Then it became clear to me that Vermont serpentine was the best choice.  

As the design evolved, and emails were exchanged, I came up with the idea of adding two silver spheres on the downward side of the mountain.  I wanted those to represent this mother and daughter's bond and the fact that they are on the 'easier' side of their difficult journey, hopefully.  

The client wanted a bit more open space in the pendant, so I revised the sketch and came up with the one which would turn out to be the final design: 

The client was happy with it, so I proceeded to carve a mold out of a baked polymer clay slab using a carving tool.  This would eventually be used to press the metal clay into and form the core spiral.

I wish I had taken pictures of the pendant in its clay state....but I didn't!  I had to change the design for the bail (the part which connects the pendant to the necklace) because of the placement of the open parts of the spiral.  I carved the open sections while the clay was still wet, let the piece dry, attached the bail and sanded everything to make a nice, smooth finish.  Then I added the two spheres, attaching them with slip (clay paste) and then finally drilled the hole at the base of the pendant for the serpentine bead.  Into the kiln it went for two hours!  The final step was oxidizing the piece, which darkened everything and added depth.  Voila!  Ready to go into its velvet bag along with my new business cards (front and back are pictured).  The client is very happy...with the pictures anyway!  I hope the recipient is happy as well and I look forward to getting her feedback.  All in all, I'm very pleased with the outcome and enjoyed the process a lot.  I hope you enjoyed reading about it!

Until next time...