04 April 2010

Queen Of Hearts

One of the jewelry making groups I belong to posts daily mini-challenges for the members. This past Friday's theme was, be inspired by a deck of playing cards, and my first thought was to make a queen of hearts card out of wire. I looked at pictures of different playing cards to get an idea for the design, then set to work. Of course, once I got started, I went a little over board, and ended up working the whole weekend on the piece. I had the presence of mind to take pictures as I worked, so I could share the process with all of you.

The first step was deciding on the size, and making the hammered sterling frame. I thought it would look better to have the card hang from a corner, and added a section of coiled loops to the opposite corner to balance the design. After I made the frame, I started wrapping it with 28 gauge, fine silver wire. The spiral end of the frame reminded me of the letter Q on a queen card.

Once I had the frame completely wrapped, I started netting the whole surface with 30 gauge wire. It took 10 feet of wire to net a rectangle 1.25 x 2 inches!

After the frame was completely netted, I started adding the image of the queen of hearts. I used a keishi pearl for her face, as it had just the right shape. I wrapped the top of the face with a herringbone of fine silver wire. I braided four strands of 14K gold-filled wire for the edge of her headdress and the cuff of her sleeve, and anchored it to the netting with tiny faceted tundra sapphires in a mix of colors. I twisted and hammered the wire for the heart, and wrapped a faceted ruby rondel into the center for color. I made a bunch of ball end headpins for the fringe on the corner, and wrapped a few of the rubies and red sapphires onto the corner to get an idea of how it would look before stopping for the night.

The next day, I jumped back into the project, and started in on the crown. I shaped the frame for the crown, then hammered it. The bottom edge was wrapped with fine silver, but I wrapped the points of the crown with more of the 14K gold filled wire, and wrapped bright red-orange fire opals into the valleys. I used the ends of the silver wire on the bottom of the crown to "sew" it onto the netting, and wrapped a frame of silver around each of the fire opals as I fastened the crown to the queen's head. A paraiba blue tourmaline in a heart cut is positioned in the center of the crown.

You can see the frame of the crown before I wrapped it with the gold in the picture below.

The next step in the design was to make the flower held by the queen. I used 4 tiny, VS songea sapphire briolettes, which sparkle incredibly, to make the petals of the flower. I noticed that on all the cards I looked at when researching the design, the queen's flower has only 4 petals. I am still trying to find out why this is so. The stem of the flower is another section of twisted and hammered wire, and the smaller keishi pearl I used for the hand curls around the stem like fingers wrapping around it. And while I didn't use the upside-down repeat of the queen in my design, I did want to suggest it, so I repeated the twisted heart with ruby center in the lower corner, but put it upside-down like on a real playing card.

Today, I couldn't wait to finish my queen! I added hammered looped wires for her collar, and added a fringe of those tiny red tundra sapphires to the loops of the upper collar, so they give her robes movement when the pendant is worn. I finished wrapping the rest of the rubies and red sapphires onto the lower corner of the pendant, then added the finishing touch - a stunning, 9.68 carat ruby briolette hanging from the cornermost loop. I had been holding this amazing stone in my collection of "exceptional gemstones waiting to become a part of a special piece" for a while now. The queen commanded this ruby for her own!

I decided to enter this piece in the Idaho State University's undergraduate art show. The entry date is tomorrow, so I finished it just in time! I am entering 5 of my jewelry pieces into the show. The show is juried, so my pieces have to be accepted first. I will let you know how it goes.

Thanks for stopping by!


Val's Filigree Fancies said...

Gorgeous pendant - a truly one of a kind piece - very original!

Hearttohearts said...

wow....simply wow!! AMAZING!

I could never get the hang of that netting technique. Yours is so perfect

pippijewelry said...

Thank you both!
I did fiber art for years and years before I started making wire jewelry, and the wire netting technique is very much like making needle lace with thread, so it was an easy transition for me to do it with wire.

Anonymous said...

pretty darn cool, Pippi. Your work is always amazing.

pippijewelry said...

Thank you, Sheridan.
I take that as a high compliment, coming from you! :)