Exquisite wearable works of art in precious metals
Looking through some old idea sketches and came across this - I really enjoyed making the spiral based repoussé pieces and thought this might be a good piece to try out my new pitch. I won't make it exactly the same, but I like the idea of dots forming an opposing spiral to the main one
The surface of the pitch is melted with a flame and the metal is stuck onto it. I'm using a type of silver - Argentium silver - which I haven't used before. It has one percent germanium added to it which means it doesn't get the dreaded "firescale" that normal sterling silver gets - a dark grey surface "stain" caused by the copper in the alloy. It's a little tricky to use, easy to overheat apparently so I'm having to be very careful until I get used to it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentium_sterling_silver
Closeup showing the lightly scribed lines and dots which will guide the shaping
Using a liner tool to mark the lines. Normally I would do this on the front as they would be the grooves between the pillowed out sections, but because I want the dots to remain visible on the back this will be the back. Not sure if this was a good idea....could create problems down the track…
Using rounded face punches to start pushing out the main shapes, always looks very rough at this stage (sort of looks like I don't know what I'm doing! ;) )
Here I use another larger faced tool to start to smooth the surface bumps and lumps and further push the shapes out. The metal hasn't been annealed yet at this stage. I'm finding the new pitch doesn't hold the metal as well as the old petroleum based one that I'm used to. The piece popped off the surface many times which was frustrating!
Finished this first stage. The metal has been removed from the pitch and heated to red hot to soften it - called annealing - and I've done a bit of gentle malleting to straighten up the form as it tends to get quite twisted
The top of the piece. Doing the initial lines on the back of the piece rather than the front has led to the small raised lines in between the larger forms. I'm not sure whether I'll leave them there or not. The main forms need to be refined now, I'll aim for a fairly smooth finish but with the marks of the tools still visible.
The piece has been placed back onto the pitch to work on the top now, the final shaping. Using a small liner tool to define the forms and a small flat one to planish/smooth the surface. I've annealed the metal only once during the entire process
Well...this wasn't exactly planned...I wanted to leave the planished texture on the surface, but there were some uneven spots on the edges and in the lines that I wasn't happy with, so thought I'd do a little bit of clean up with some files and just couldn't stop! It has now been filed, sanded, polished and finally abraded with pumice powder to give a satin finish.