Wednesday, May 27, 2009

would these earrings work?

I am avoiding any new big projects until I get another silver pour done, but want to add a few lower cost odds and ends to the pour.

I started some bamboo earrings similar to the ones above, but with a wood frame encompassing the two vertical bamboo sticks. I had already rough-shaped the two vertical sticks out of hard wax on a lathe, but after making a quick frame, realized the scale of the sticks, along with a frame and stone setting, would be too bulky for earrings. I decided to go with a larger pendant prototype, but could not get comfortable with the 3-D depth of the whole thing. It just did not work. I started remembering trying to do the same thing in the past and not succeeding.

I then decided to try an earring design with two horizontal bamboo sticks along with the two vertical sticks and foregoing the frame -- with or without the jade stone setting. (See above sketch.) I vaguely remember trying this in the past also, but cannot remember what the abort factor was, so I plod along.

I spent some time with hand tools trying to get the machined look from the four bamboo posts. I am going for a look halfway between an Oriental drawing, and real bamboo. There is a decent cheat factor, as I was looking at images of bamboo on the web, and it varies greatly in shape and scale.

If I can get the four 'bamboo' sticks to look OK, I will split them and hollow out the insides. This should eliminate most of the weight. When I work on elaborate cast earrings, I shoot for 3.5 grams total weight for each earring, once cast. Much over 4 grams and the earrings are considered scrap, and the time wasted. It takes time to get used to the difference in wax mass, compared to sterling silver. Wax models have to be painfully thin and fragile before they are candidates for casting in sterling silver for earrings. When you have thinned the wax sufficiently it is very similar to working with a thin potato chip: don't breathe too hard.

Without the jade stone setting, the earrings would be a pretty quick make, once I get a good rubber mold. The jade setting might not scale without a frame; another consideration. Not a well-planned design so far, but I think they might work for less expensive, charm type earrings.

...2009/06/12 update

Looks like the project is back to a pendant instead of earrings. I used the four larger hollow pieces of 'bamboo' to make a square frame. There are two solid, but thinner bamboo stalks within the frame, with leaves at the top and bottom.

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