My sweet little owls!
The pinecone and bough design originated at the turn of the last century when it was hand-carved into a steel block to form a master hob for die pressing. I feel so fortunate to have a supplier who is trying to save all the antique master hobs from the scrap mill, especially those of the Art Nouveau period, which highly esteemed nature themes. His machine shop carefully creates new impression dies from these saved antiques and allows modern makers to keep the art alive.
These earrings began as a 99.9% fine silver ingot. I 'rolled' this down in my rolling mill with a repeated process of annealing the silver with a torch and then reducing the thickness through rolling until the metal 'hardened' again, at which point I'd repeat the process. When the metal got to about 20 gauge in thickness, I did a final anneal and then rolled with a texture plate to create the baroque design of the back-plate. This was then cut out using a pancake die which made the outline of the hoop design.The fine silver stamping I made was then soldered to the back plate, giving a nice, finished look and feel. I lightly oxidized (antiqued) the earrings and then did a tumble finishing, first with ceramic media, that gives a velvet matte finish and then with a stainless steel shot media and burnishing compound to give them a final polish.
It's a lot of steps and time consuming, but I create up to a dozen pieces at a time, taking them through each of the steps together, to try and speed it up a bit. Seriously a labor of love!
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