I've been working on this piece on and off over the last week, and thought I'd show some progress pics. At this point, the focal is mostly done I just haven't created the clasp nor have I really nailed down a layout. I've ordered some more shades/sizes of leather as well as some different sizes of pearls to play with. This entire necklace is being built around the clear glass piece in the middle that has cremations encapsulated in them.
I did the glass work myself, which is also something that's new for me. This particular piece of glass has already been used in a variety of experiments since it's inception two or three weeks ago. It's been through the kiln three times already and has held up well. As with many other materials I work with, glass can withstand incredibly high heat and the issues actually arise when it cools too quickly. I had applied a tiny silver applique to it in one experiment then sort of pried it off for another so there is some slight discoloration in that area (center bottom). This is an experimental design and I'm using ash from a stray animal that was donated to me for this purpose. Unfortunately, it had no forever home or a family to love it so after I've turned it into something beautiful the final piece will be hung in my studio, travel with me to shows, or be valued and displayed in some other way.
So it's late as I type this and honestly my days are running together. I completed the silver heart and kiln fired it 2-3 days ago, then let it tumble overnight to get clean. The design is pretty deep so I had to do some more manual work to really get it clean. After a long day, I went into my studio at about 10 tonight. I was anxious to get the gold highlights on there. I think you may know where this is going. Basically, I have two main ways that I apply gold accent to pieces. One way is to more or less paint the gold on then use a torch to get the silver and gold to bond. The other is using a hot plate or something similar and bringing the silver piece to a very high temp and then burnishing on gold foil (keum boo). Using the foil method on this piece would have taken forever and I likely would have gotten it on many parts of the heart that I didn't intend to. I decided to use the "paint" method and almost immediately had a hunch that it was a bad idea. I don't have much solution left and it's pretty old so I was starting to reconsider for those reasons and the nagging voice in the back of my head that said I should just stop.
I didn't listen. I was so deep in thought about where and how to apply the gold, I completely forgot my main concern. Remember when I mentioned glass has a delicate relationship with air and the speed it heats or cools down? For that reason, the amount of heat I would need for EITHER of these methods would crack my glass. Annndddd it did. So now I have a crack, but it will still be okay for pictures and to hang on my wall. I washed the solution off of the piece and didn't finish applying the gold. I remembered at that point that I had one more way to apply it, and no heat was required. My equipment for this method is not the best and is also very old. I decided to slap some rose gold on quickly just to see what it looks like, but I'll need to really think on where I want this design to go. If I absolutely have to have the gold, my equipment will need to be upgraded for this method and I'll also need to do some extensive research to make sure that the gold really "sticks" with the proper tools. With what I currently have, it's too fragile of a bond for me to be comfortable selling a piece. I still think it would look great antiqued (maybe slightly less dark) with high polished silver swirls as well.
This week I'll make the clasp and try to be patient while I wait for the rest of the components to come in so I can finish it. Also, I may try to sleep.
Shout outs: Thank you to Lisel Crowley for sharing her knowledge on glass work and combining it with silver. The fabulous texture on the front and back was created using a handmade stamp by Blossom Stamps.