January jewellery making challenge - Pendant

I'm very excited to be taking part in the jewellers academy year long jewellery making challenge. Each month there is a piece of jewellery prompt to follow. Some will give me an opportunity to practice my existing skills while others will push me out of my comfort zone completely!

January's prompt is: Make a pendant

For me this is a nice & easy design to ease me into the challenge as making pendants & necklaces are some of my favourite things to make!

I started out doing some rough sketches (and I mean rough! i'm definitely not great with my drawing) to get the initial idea down on paper, then I started to think about sizing & details. There was no question what the actual pendant would be made of as its silver clay all the way for me!

When it was time to start the making with the silver clay I got out every tool & material that I would use as the clay does dry out pretty quickly. I often get out more than I need as designs often change organically when i'm making. To make the shinning star I experimented by putting a tiny cubic zirconia into a tiny nail embellishment mould before adding the clay. I was very happy with the result! I used a CZ as they can be fired along with the clay piece itself so it doesn't need to be added later like a gemstone would. The other stars were made using the same mould, I love using these tiny moulds as they are an easy way to make little embellishments.

Once all the elements were dry, they were all refined using some sanding pads & holes for the chain was drilled. The more refining I did here the less I had to do when it was fired! Then I played around with the stars on the disc to see what worked best. Once happy with the layout I used a thick paste made from silver clay dust (saved from previous work) mixed with a little water to adhere the stars.

Again the piece was left to air dry completley before I used my trusty blow torch to fire the piece. The firing is where the magic happens, during firing the binder is burnt off from the piece which makes it into pure silver (.999) it literally turns to metal in front of your eyes! I then left the piece on a steel block to cool naturally.

It looked white once it was fired as this is the natural state of silver so to start revealing the shine I used a brass brush which gave the piece a satin finish. I actually really like the satin look on silver so I left the background like this & carried on polishing the stars with an agate burnisher to make them super shiny!

This celestial pendant was inspired by my & my hubby's love of star gazing which we have been very lucky to be able to continue throughout the lockdowns as we have a clear view from our flat windows!

Next month I will be continuing with the celestial theme along with using techniques that are new to me, to make a moonstone stacking ring (my first ever ring!!)

Check out #jewellersacademychallenge21 on Instagram to see loads of amazing artists who are taking part

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