Stuff for people who are still a bit untamed, young at heart and full of dreams.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Just a Stone

Picture from Atlantis Hotel in Wyk, Isle of Föhr
Pebbles from the Isle of IonaAdd caption
"Can you make me a necklace?" I held my hand out to my auntie Erika; on my palm a wet pebble was glistening in the sun. I was six, and we were spending our holidays on a beach at the North Sea. Auntie was sitting in one of those roofed wicker beach chairs and reading some women's magazine while I had been combing the beach for coloured shells. There weren't many rocks and stones among the shells, but I had found this beautiful white pebble. "No honey, I can't make a hole into a stone." said my aunt, but I had something entirely else in mind. "I don't want a hole. I want it like your necklace." I said. Auntie was wearing a pretty silver chain with an amber pendant set in sterling silver. I loved that necklace. It looked as if someone had captured the sun it. My aunt chuckled. "Darling, this is just a stone. One doesn't make silver necklaces with pebbles. When you're older, you will have your own silver necklace with a beautiful gemstone." I didn't want a gemstone, I wanted my pretty pebble. So I went into a huff. 

Doodling, sketching, finding ideas
 Times change. Several decades later, I have seen many beaches and collected a bounty of stones. Different shores are covered in different pebbles. For years, our mantlepiece showed stones and shells in the most amazing colours. And then I started making jewellery. That was when I remembered that once, I had wanted a pebble for a pendant. So I started wire wrapping my first stones. I liked the result, but there was still a difference between showing off a piece of stone, ceramic or glass wrapped in wire and having it set in metal. Sometimes, I wanted the stone to be the centre piece without being overshadowed by artificially wrapped wire. I think, that was the moment, when I decided that I had to learn how to set stones.

The copper and silver trays
I'm still learning, I realised, when my friend Nici brought me a collection of beautiful stones from Iona.

There were gorgeous serpentines, snow white round chips and lovely grey and white patterend pebbles. Immediately three of the grey stones with intricate patterns caught my eye.

Ready to be filed into submission
Seeing and feeling them in my hand was the same experience like years ago. At first I was pondering of 
turning them into rings or single pendants. I started doodling and eventually, I thought of combining them into a single pendant: Three simple bezel trays joined together and complemented by a silver tube for a bail. As I wanted to show the connection between water (where the stones were found), earth (where they came from), fire and air (the way in which I work them), I decided to make the bottom of the bezels from copper which for me is very much connected to the earth and the bezels from fine silver. Considering the history and the many legends connected to the Isle 

of Iona, I thought the healing properties of copper would show that connection as well.

More filing and polishing to do
Making the trays involved a lot of filing and sanding on each single tray but also on the
joined setting. But in the end, the tray was ready to take the stones. That was the moment, when I learned a lot!  A cut stone is usually even on the bottom and around the edges and once you've mastered the making of a bezel, you will be able to get it to sit nicely where you want it. Not so my three beauties. As smooth and even as they had looked when I started to work, as much resistance they put up when I finally wanted to smooth the edges around the stones. They were definitely trying to escape from their encasement.

I didn't want to grind or cut them; it would just not have felt right. After all, the idea was to turn the pebbles into a pendant just like they were. This meant another round of hammering and filing on the bezels, and - I have to confess - a dab of jeweller's glue on the smallest pebble, just in case, although I'm sure it was not entirely necessary.
The final piece

But in the end, decades after I had longed for a silver and pebble necklace, I had one made!

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