I had an order for one of these this week, so, I thought I'd document the making of it.
All my designs start as a drawing - hares are a large part of what I do, not only do I have a great love for the animal itself, they're really pleasing to make with their sleek lines and curves. The hares in my range include very simple silhouettes to more detailed ones like this.
Once I've drawn what's in my head, I take a photo of it (on my phone, no fanciness!) and then upload onto my computer and into Photoshop where I clean up where need be, and turn it into a jpeg image.
Turning it into a jpeg allows me to print the image, which will then become my template.
I print all of my templates on simple sticky label sheets. I print multiples because each piece will require me to use three or four of these for the various components that go in to creating it.
Now I've got the label, I can place it on the silver, ready to cut out. In this case I used 1mm thick sterling silver sheet. The blue film on the silver helps to protect it from scratches and wotnot, and acts as a good base for the sticker to stick on!
In metalsmith terms, the cutting out of shapes in metals is called 'piercing' - and to pierce we use stupidly thin blades! A bit like a toothed cheesewire! These blades break at really annoying times, and I've been known to go through ten of them on a really bad day :D
First of all I'll cut the whole outline out - so I have the basic hare shape. Then, in order to give the piece a 3d shape, I'll go back in and break the picture down into sections. These I'll use to layer up the piece to form some depth to it. There are other ways to get a more 3d look, such as casting...but, I really like playing with layers and 'building' the hare.
So for this piece, I've cut out extra legs and body, and an extra head and ear! I've peeled the blue film off, and given each piece a quick rub down with a very fine sandpaper to prep it for soldering. Just before soldering, I stamped the star on the hare's bum and then 'assembled' the piece - this is how it looks after soldering.
After a quick bath in the pickle (a solution that removes the black firescale on the silver) I start the process of sanding, grinding and shaping the piece for a more curved/smooth appearance. For this I use radial wheels. These are some of my very favourite tools in the workshop. They range in grits, from very rough to very smooth. The one I'm using here is really rough, just like a rough sandpaper, and helps smooth the hard edges.
I'll then work through the grits (I work with five different ones) until I achieve a nice smooth finish, ready for the next step.
Next is to cut out the other elements of the pendant. In this case it's the curved frame, and the tubing which will be the bail where the chain slides through. The star I'd already cut out at the beginning :)
And then, the whole lot needs to be soldered together!
This picture is of it soldered with its interim polish and then oxidised (blackened). Oxidising the piece before the final polish allows me to leave darker areas to bring out details, such as the star.
A final polish, and a bit of faffing and he's ready to go to the London Assay Office for hallmarking, and then on to his new home.
To purchase your own Stargazer Moonleaper, click here for his details