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.
I have always loved making things with my hands. It has always amazed me that I am able to take an image in my mind and make it come into form. Like magic!
I will never have enough time to create all the wonderful things waiting to come to life from my imagination, but you can see a few of the lucky ones that actually get made here.
I hope they bring a bit of joy to your day!
Thanks for looking!