Outside My Comfort Zone
by Lady Mockingbird.
(Upstate New York, USA)
I have a very good and kind repeat client, for whom I’ve made a few pieces over the past year. He keeps coming back, and so when he asked me to convert a pendant with high sentimental value into something he’d be more willing to wear, I agreed to give it a shot.
My client never wears anything around his neck, so the original gift of pewter Ogham Rune pendant on a leather cord sat in his jewelry box. It had been a gift from his wife, who has a matching pendant, and she was hurt that he wouldn’t wear his.
My client knew that he favored some of the woven titanium wire pieces I’d done in the past, but beyond that he left the design completely up to me. Now there are two reasons this commission fell pretty far outside of my comfort zone.
The first is that I don’t do much which is well suited to masculine style. Most times even when I set out to make something for a man, it ends up appealing to my female clients. The second reason was the nature of the pendant itself. It is pewter, and luckily turned out to be a quite good match with the titanium wire my client likes.
The pendant’s shape also posed problems with construction as one end is significantly more thick in profile than the other. And finally, it started with only one large hole where the leather cord was threaded.
So, I had to come up with something that would be structurally sound, incorporate the pendant, be masculine in the finished appearance, and be fully comfortable to wear. Whew!
That was a tall order. I can tell you now that the pendant sat in a bag with another pending order from my client for more than 2 months, while I wracked my brain coming up with a concept that might work.
Eventually, I thought of a modified traditional wire bundle cuff, where half of the bundle would be pulled away from the other half at the middle of the basic cuff structure. That open area would then be the supporting frame for the pendant as a rectangular focal cabochon of sorts. But I had one more engineering issue to deal with.
My client specifically did not want there to be the traditional hook and eye clasp formation so often used with woven wire bundle bangles. That formation is a fantastic way to turn the open ends of the weaving bundle into useable design elements. But he wanted something with a traditional clasp and no open wire ends. Uh oh, what to do?
Solution, make a very large oval spiral to form the wire bundle. Only two wire ends to deal with on the base frame then. It turned out that bringing those to the center front of the cuff gave me a good way to stabilize the pendant and fasten it into place, before I started on the weaving. It was all closed weaving. And the weaving wire was 32g titanium so there was a lot of weaving.
In the end, although my client loves the piece, I was not 100% happy with it. I had planned more symmetry for it, but things shifted during the shaping and weaving process. I ended up embracing the asymmetry and used that to add in some different geometric weaving elements to the area framing the focal.
But there are too many little errors for it to be a sale-able item. So I gifted this piece to the client as a token of my appreciation for his continued patronage.