Monday, 15 March 2021

Anatomy of an Agate Pendant

 It starts, as it always does, with a stone. In this case it was a nice hunk of peach coloured agate that "She With The Agate Eye" brought back to the shop. As she is want to do, she insisted that I should cut it because there was treasure inside- she just knew it. Over the last 50+ years, I have learned to go with her hunches so I cut and by pure chance, cut right through a crystal druzy pocket not visible on the surface. I cut a slice and then cut a shape and after grinding and polishing on my Cab King this was the result.


It is a really beautiful stone but it lacked "pop" against any light background so I decided to try a copper backing. Now all my copper is reclaimed and upcycled. I have several sheets (thanks Dan) and it starts out looking like this.


It would be a stretch to get someone to wear copper like that so here's my process. First, I have to come up with some ideas and I was fortunate to have two other talented artists "in residence" at the time. Here are some of the ideas we considered.


The one on top was very interesting but not workable (sorry Sandra) so we eventually settled on the one in the lower left. From that, I made a pattern 


and then I cut a rough version of the shape from the copper plate. After a lot of filing and sanding, I had an exact fit to the pattern and now it was time to make the copper beautiful. To do this, I first flattened it by running it through a rolling mill and then started sanding the surface. I could use a Dremel but prefer to do it by hand and after starting with 100 grit, I keep working it through 12,000 grit. That takes time but the results are just what I want- a burnished piece of copper that retains the vestiges of it's previous life.



As you can see, backed by the copper, the stone takes on an amazingly warm hue and the druzy really stands out because of the spot of burnished copper that shows through. I now drilled holes in the bottom of the plate to hold a copper chain from which we suspended a nice matching Swarovski crystal and after rolling the "tongue" to create a bail for the neck cord. this is the result.



My objective is always to showcase the stone as best I possibly can and I'm pretty happy with this result. As usual, feedback is greatly appreciated and this piece will be available for purchase either through my "virtual store"- The Seawall Emporium (www.seawallemporium.com )- the Lap of Lapidary- or at the real store- The Artist's Mark- on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia. Hope to see you this summer!

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