Philip of RareRocksAndGems – contacted me and asked if I would be interested in doing a project for him that he had been thinking about for a while. It is a dragon mounted on a piece of really cool Morrisonite. Always looking for a challenge, I asked to see what he had in mind.
Here’s the 1st photo Philip e-mailed me to look at >>
Studying the photos I figured that it was possible and I would accept this project so Philip sent me the stone for 1st hand scaling and re-designing >>
This being a monochromatic photo it was hard to determine the different layers that would be needed to complete the overlay process to construct the dragon. So I traced the outline of the dragon making a simple line drawing >>
Next, the photos had to be scaled to the correct size and determine the gauge of sheet silver to use for which part. After scaling to the correct size I transferred the two drawings to a ¼” graph paper for the final pattern >>
As you can see, the dragon is a little on the small size (approximately 2 ¼” x 1 ½”) with a lot of small pieces to cut, overlay solder and fabricate the finished piece. What a challenge……
Now comes the harder part – cutting and soldering the sub-assemblies.
Since there many tiny parts sub-assemblies are necessary in order to maintain some semblance of sanity during this project. I will be assembling the entire thing from the top down. This is because no matter how good one is at drawing patterns and cutting them out it is virtually impossible to cut exactly >>
The first thing I’m going to work on is the top wing sub-assembly. Here, I cut out the part of the pattern I’m using, cut a piece of sheet silver appropriately sized, clean the silver on a medium sating wheel and then using Elmer’s Glue stick it to the silver for cutting. I used a 4/0 (0000) saw blade for all the cutting >>.
The two pieces I’m doing first are the top wing shoulder, elbow and 1st finger and then the wing webbing that is under it >>
The last layer to attach is the back wing webbing, which also has my Maker’s mark and other stamping on it, and also a finger tip on the back wing . After sculpting what I could this completes the dragon assembly process.
Next we will be dealing on how to attach the dragon to the Morrisonite cab, set the bale for a necklace and add a broach pin assembly.
Since the Morrisonite is a cab, the dragon will have to be bent into place around the head and tail/wing tip areas to fit the contour of the cab. I can’t really scan that in so you’ll have to imagine it >>
I decided to use 14g square wire for the 4-prong basket to hold the cab. One top prong are positioned to cover the crack in the cab and attach to the tail and the other is to attach to the neck area.
Now the top two spires need to be ground down flat on the top and close to the stone as not to lift the dragon too high off the stone >>
Once I completed this, the basket needed to be soldered to the back of the dragon. Here’s a really tricky part – one has to determine where the spires attach without actually seeing it…I held the dragon on top with the stone in place and guessed where to make the 1st solder joint.
I guessed right! Soldered the 2nd mount to the dragon and then the bale for a chain. For the broach pin findings I had to solder a little tab to the back frame so the point of the pin didn’t stick out >>
Final step is to solder the pin findings in place. When it comes to the clasping part of the finding, I always position the opening on the clasp down. This way, if the little rotating lock ever opens the pin should stay in place……hopefully
Now it’s off to a friend’s shop to have the piece tumble polished to remove the fire scale before the final oxidation, polishing and assembly.
Here is the completed piece with two different backgrounds. Six layers of sterling and 14 individual pieces make up the dragon with a total piece count of 21 for the completed pendant/broach.
I just Love it