Monday, January 11, 2010

Challenging Myself

This piece has been in my mind for a very long time, at least in an abstract way. I wanted to do a photo album/book type of pendant. Originally, I wanted to make it with a cover and one page inside (room for a total of four pictures). I just wasn't sure how to make it open. I wanted something that looked more like a book than just attaching the pages with jumprings would do.

I figured the best way to do it was a hinge, but I also decided that that would make it difficult to do the extra page in the middle and so, at least for my first attempt I decided just the two pages, front and back, would be best.

As I normally do when I am faced with new challenge, I researched the best way to make hinges out of PMC. They have to be pretty exact or the book won't open and close. I found several articles on how to make PMC hinges and I kept those in the back of my brain for quite a while. I think it's been probably a year since I first thought of this project. When I would be trying to decide what new project to start, the book would come back into my head. But I never started it.

Then, a couple of months ago, I saw an announcement at for a design contest for the new Metal Clay Artist Magazine. The requirements were that you needed to purchase a set of Metal Clay Findings' findings and incorporate a certain amount of them into your piece. I got the set of findings, but I was busy with Christmas things and didn't get a chance to really look at the findings until after the holidays.

As soon as I saw them, I knew I would make my book. Included in the set was a fine silver tube, 3mm in diameter and 25mm long, which looked like the perfect size to try hinges.

And so I plunged into what might be the most technically difficult piece I have made. I had to solve the problem of the PMC "pages" shrinking while the tube did not. I also had to make a rod to fit inside the tube to hold the hinge together. How would I hang it as a pendant? How would I keep it closed?

I'm not the kind of person who can draw something out and figure it out. Drawings help but I figure things out better by actually doing them. I worked slowly, deciding on a design for the front that would incorporate one of the bezel settings and several of the tiny silver beads provided in the kit. I decided to make the closing mechanism part of the design as well. I used one of the included embeddable jump rings to attach to the fine silver rod I was making to fit inside the hinge. To solve the shrinkage problem, I decided to do a double firing.

I am very pleased with the way it came out. The pendant is about 22mm tall and 17mm wide (closed, not including the jumpring). I set a fancy jasper in the middle of the front along with a design I made with the little silver balls. The jasper goes well with the patina, I think. The closure wraps around the the jasper setting and holds the book closed pretty well.

The deadline for submission of photos for the contest is February 1. I'm still trying to decide whether or not to enter this piece. It's not perfect, for sure. I can see things that I am sure others would not. Whether I do enter it or not, it was fun to, and a challenge as well. I learned a lot in the process.


  1. Wow Lisa, that's really lovely! Thank you for sharing the process too, it helps to understand how involved the piece is to make. I am always amazed!


  2. Wow! Lisa that looks amazing! And a great idea, too, to create a PMC "book"- love it!

    When I submit stuff to contests or shows, I go into it by mentally preparing myself to not be accepted, and looking at it as purely a learning experience. There are times I get accepted, and times I get turned down, but every time you do it you learn a little more about the process, so it's worth it.

  3. Wow, that's awesome, Lisa! Great way to plow through the "unknown" and conquering it.

  4. Whaaaat??? You're a PMC genius!! This is beautiful!

  5. Good Lord, Lisa! That is beautiful! I don't know much about PMC (yet!! :D), but I can only imagine the looks beautiful, and intricate, and I can totally see that it took a long time to create. I say enter it! I am in awe right now...

  6. Wow Lisa! That is awesome work, I love it!!


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