With a recent addition to our Mum jewelry collection in the run up to Mother's Day 2020, I wanted to take you on a step by step journey on the making of our special Mum necklace.
The necklace was made to celebrate that very unique bond between Mum and child and a recognition of the devotion of Mums to their children ! The solid pendant depicts a mother gazing adoringly at her cradled newborn. While I designed it with all Mums in mind, I also hope that it could be worn as a piece of new mum jewellery, as kind of talisman for new mothers who can be reminded of the strength, love and devotion of their own mother, grandmother and the mothers who came before her too !
So how did we make our mum pendant ?
Well it's a little bit different than most of the other Lulu + Belle pieces, which are mostly made to order from sheet metal, wire and birthstones. This piece was made from an original hand carved wax which we then cast in solid sterling silver.
The wax carving is a process that I really love from start to finish and it's something that I often do at the end of the work day purely for enjoyment and relaxation. Any time I work with wax carving, I start by collecting inspiration from images, photos, sketches that I find in books and online. One of the images that I stumbled across while making this mother necklace, was by an artist called Grace Daniels... her beautiful mother and baby sketch really spoke to me. Unfortunately I couldn't find a site to link to, to credit Grace for her beautiful image.
Next I turn that inspiration into my own sketch for the pendant that is the right size to work in wax. Sometimes, I'll take that work home to the kitchen table where I can relax with my labrador by my feet while I sketch out a design for a piece of jewellery. The design is then transferred to the wax and I begin to carve the design.
I work with wolf wax carving tools and the method I'm most drawn to is removal of wax to slowly sculpt my piece. It's slow mindful work and it is completely absorping - you lose all sense of time as you work on a wax project and begin to bring a design to life. The piece is continually changed and refined as you work and very often the finished design is very different from what it started out as, in your mind and in the wax itself !
Wax carving is a blissfully messy process resulting in tools, drawings and wax dust everywhere as you slowly carve and tease your design out of the block of wax.
Our mum pendant looked quite different at the initial stage of carving, as seen above in its rough outline stage. I usually set the piece aside for a few days and then come back to it to see it with fresh eyes before changing and refining it. Below is the final wax carved pendant which is highly polished, as each little mark or line would show in cast metal piece.
The wax is then sent off to our casters who use the lost wax casting technique to burn out the wax and create an initial model of the piece in sterling silver. It's an exciting and nerve-wrecking time when the first model of the piece comes back from the casters in sterling silver as you see your design as a raw piece of jewellery for the first time.
Here is first raw casting of our necklace for Mums - the silver is in its raw unpolished state and the piece still has the 'sprue' or tube where the liquid silver was poured to create the model. I work on this initial piece as a 'master', carefully finishing and refining it in its metal form until it's exactly as I want it. At this stage I also made a bale or ring for the pendant where the chain will thread through and finished it to a high polish.
The finished 'master' piece was then sent back to the casters who made a mould of the completed silver mum and baby pendant. This mould will allow us to reproduce the piece so that it is the same as the original design each time. When the pendants come back from the casters, we remove the sprues, finish and polish each pendant by hand and then send them for hallmarking. Some of the pendants will then be given a thick plating in 18 kt gold for our vermeil (gold plated sterling silver) option.
The making of our Mum chain was a labour of love and I hope that we've made a unique piece of Mum jewellery that will be cherished by Irish Mums. The necklace is part of our Mother's Day Gift edit and you can pre-order your mother and baby chain on our website now.
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