In lieu of being able to watch me as I make a piece, I thought a series of photos chronicling how I go about making a piece of jewellery, from concept to final piece, might be interesting. Come behind the scenes to my workbench.
We'd been up to Karajini National Park in North West Western Australia several years ago where the deeply folded rocks at the sides of the gorges were truly sensational. Several hours were spent photographing these rocks, and I always intended to make a piece of jewellery about them.
But it wasn't until we were in India in 2018 when I saw pieces of rock that so closely resembled these gorges that I worked out how to do it. The stone is Tiger Iron - a form of Tiger Eye with iron ore included. Perfect!
I've made one other of these necklaces, but as each stone is so different, each necklace is too. Truly one of a kind.
Having chosen the stone, the first step is always to sketch up the possibilities, marking out where various elements will go. This makes me think about the mechanics and look of the piece.
The various elements are soldered into place onto the sterling silver backplate. This requires very careful measuring to ensure the stone can't fall out. In this case, as the stone was very undercut at the lower edge, I chose to put a ledge for the stone to rest on, curving up along the sides, then three hefty sterling silver prongs to keep the stone in place as well as a tube-set faceted stone at the top. There was a half-moon cut into the top edge of the stone that was a perfect placement for that.
When I went to choose the little faceted stone, it turned out that the orange sapphire I had my eye on was not quite the right colour. Rummaging through my 'stash' I found a hessonite garnet the right size and colour for that placement. Then it was a matter of making the tube setting, reaming out the inside to make it a perfect fit for the chosen stone and filing down the outside of the tube so it would be thin enough to bend over the lip of the stone. This is all done on a long piece of sterling silver tube and cut off at the right distance from the end.
Once the tiny piece of tubing is soldered onto the backing I can check the fit of the main stone and the hessonite garnet. In this case it was very tight tolerances so I was happy. Now for the finishing.
My preference for this piece was for a quite 'industrial' feel for the necklace, so once the backing plate was fully cleaned up and the backing pattern applied, it had to be patinated. I soak it in a smelly compound called Liver of Sulphur (sounds quite medieval) which turns the whole thing a dark shade of grey
This patina then has to be rubbed back to give highlights and deeply shaded areas. This is done with very fine steel wool and a series of ultra-fine grit polishing wheels until I'm happy with the result
The hole for the bail was drilled and the bail added before the patination. All that's left now is making the chain, patinating it and rubbing that back - only another couple of hours and I'm done!
If you want to see this necklace on the website, just go to https://australianlandscapejewellery.com/products/hancock-gorge?_pos=1&_sid=d2df1dec5&_ss=r