There is a process in metalsmithing called Marriage of metals. Essentially, it is like inlay to create a 3D looking piece on a 2D surface. A lot of designs that work well with this are more in the geometric realm, but I wanted something that would be more meaningful for me to wear. I love reading, so I decided that I wanted to do a book. Initially I thought I would set a pearl on the piece to do a play on 'pearls of wisdom,' but once I got into the piece, I just didn't like how it looked with a pearl, so I went in a different direction.
This process was very different from how I usually like to work. With this process, everything really needs to be deliberate and exact. The pieces have to fit nearly perfectly together because solder is meant to adhere metal together, not to fill gaps. The piece was started with exactly measured drawings. I don't usually like to do anything more than a very rough sketch, so this part was very frustrating for me. If you need to do exact sketches, do yourself a favor and buy a c-thru ruler. I cannot stress this enough. I use them in my studio so much, for metalwork, sketching, sewing, craft projects, pretty much everything.
On this piece of manilla folder are my sketches. Most of it is me exploring what I wanted as the backpiece. You can see the pearl sketched out in the center one. One funny thing to note: in my sketches, the book page is on the opposite side than it is in the finished piece. That is because I put it on the wrong side when I soldered it, and there it stayed. The book itself is five separate pieces of metal, two pieces of copper, two of brass, and one nickel.
I didn't take many process photos, but the above photo is how it looked for the majority of the work time. The piece stays dirty so that the solder has less stress placed on it since I would be reheating it so much. In that photo, I have all but one piece soldered on. Precision was so important in this project. We used T-pins to make sure that pieces stayed close while soldering. I soldered the pins to the piece at least twice.
When it came time to cut out the backplate, I cut it out perfectly... and then I melted it, so I got to cut out a new one.
This is the back on the finished piece. Once I was done assembling the piece, I had to saw out a perfect fit for it in the backplate. Then I soldered it, and I also soldered on a brass tube to the top (which was a nightmare) for the cording to go through. Once all the soldering was done, it probably took me close to 8 hours of sanding to get the front as you see it in the photos below. The back doesn't get finished as nicely because the piece is so delicate. If I were to sell this specific piece, I would probably glue some leather to the back.
I mentioned earlier that I wanted to set a pearl on the piece. The further I got into the piece, the less I was feeling the pearl. I ended up deciding to turn this into a sort of Rory Gilmore (a la Gilmore Girls) inspired piece. I stamped the phrase 'in omnia paratus' on a piece of nickel. This is a latin phrase meaning ready for all things. In the world of books, you need to have an open mind and be ready for all things.
After many, many hours of sanding, here is my finished piece. It has also been blackened with liver of sulphur to give it a little depth, though the piece was fighting me on consistent coloring. The cord is this gorgeous braided leather that I got in New York. I really like the cord, but others have informed me that they do not. How do you feel about it?
Artistically photographed on my front deck. I just realized that you can see my foot in this picture.
In metalsmithing, you have to be ready for all things. Even in repeat work, nothing ever happens the same way. In Omnia Paratus. What is your can do motto?
*google search: marriage of metals : to see some great examples of this technique*