Monday, 22 October 2012

Design of the Week: Silver wildflower 'Natalie' pendant

This week's design is a silver wildflower pendant, designed for my friend Natalie's birthday. I wanted to make her something pretty and nature-inspired, delicate enough to wear to work or casually. She doesn't wear many necklaces, but the ones I've noticed are quite simple and classic. I wanted to give her something a bit different to this: nothing that could be shop-bought - but also not a chunky or statement piece that wouldn't fit with her style.

I love the variety in different wildflowers (like the one below) and the petal shapes - couldn't help but try and replicate something similar in silver. This wildflower pendant was the resulting design and is really versatile to wear.
Wildflower photo inspiration for a silver pendant
Wildflower photo by Steve Berardi

I made it from three layers of 0.5mm sterling silver sheet, pierced, lightly textured, formed then sweat-soldered together. I finally added some granulated silver balls to the middle for stamen, and a jump ring bail.

I actually made this week's design about three months ago, but it has taken me this long to finally finish the piece as I've been missing a crucial piece of equipment. I found it very difficult to polish between the layers of petals with a radial brush, and didn't want to risk the barrelling machine.

New toy: Magnetic Polisher

I have been saving for a magnetic polisher for ages, ever since using one in a workshop to polish my filigree pendant. I fell in love with how quick it was (just 15 minutes) at polishing and how perfectly tiny and compact the whole machine was (approximately 15cm x 15 x 25).

For such a tiny machine, however, it's quite pricey - looking at around £270 to import one from China, although I did find a cheaper one for just over £100. I ended up finding mine on ebay, the model I wanted from China but sold second-hand by a British seller instead, for a bargain £150.

The machine works by polishing light / delicate pieces with its tiny steel pins, which are moved around by the magnetics inside. It does a slightly different job to the barrelling machine in that it will only polish - any scratches and edges will be left the same, not softened in any way.

I'm very happy with the results from the polisher - the tiny pins managed to get right into the smallest gaps and the result was a beautifully polished piece. Natalie received her present this weekend, and I'm happy to report that she loved it and wore it straight away. I love being able to give my friends / family something I've made as a present!


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