Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Journey in Making, Part Two

* This is part two of a three-part story - for part one, scroll down to the last entry! *

This shows the central body piece being fitted to the other two. This one was the most challenging to carve because it had to hug the other body piece exactly. The wood pieces were pegged together with rods of sterling silver, and the fit had to be snug
so that the silver would not show.

After adding an additional wood piece to articulate where the wings attach and pegging everything together, the piece was ready to sand and dye! Our shop tech let me borrow a leather dye that he described as "blacker than black". Yummy~!

After I painted the dye on, I burnished the surface of the wood with a brass brush to work the color in. I did this about 3 times. Later, I sprayed the whole thing with a clear glossy sealant to make the surface more "beetle-y".

Time for the fun part - COLOR! I tend to do a LOT of samples, especially when I'm enameling, because I'm reeeeally picky about the final product. These are a few of my color samples for the outer wings of the beetle. Since I was not making a total copy of any particular beetle species, I needed to come up with a color combination that was alluring as jewelry but also looked convincing on an insect.

I experimented with many transparent enamels to come up with the right color and pattern. These were my final two samples. I decided to go with the left one - the more orangey-red didn't have enough contrast with the greens I chose.

In total, I layered 5 different enamel colors to get the right colors. The reactions between the different layers ended up being important, too - the speckling effect was due to one of the bottom layers coming up through to the top.

Here you can see the wood carving of the body along with the final wing samples and the shaped copper pieces for the actual wings, pre-enamel.

to be continued in Part Three...


Valerie A. Heck Esmont said...

All I can say is wow! You're work is amazing, I can't wait to see more!

erin semi o said...


the good kind of sick :D

Thea Clark said...

great to see your process, thanks for sharing