Still in its rough, unfinished state, a Celtic knotwork pendant, hand-pierced from sterling silver
I’m certainly not the greatest wielder of a saw frame in the world, but I’m also not easily discouraged by a piece of work that involves a good deal of piercing; I break my fair share of saw blades in the process, but doesn’t everyone?
On the other hand, I did quake slightly at the thought of making this commissioned pendant – not so fearful of the actual piercing, but rather in the amount of careful finishing necessary to bring all those cut edges from their initial rough state (despite my prudent choice of a fine-toothed blade for the job) to a smooth and highly polished finish – they say the devil’s in the detail and this piece is certainly proving to be solid proof of the truth in that old adage.
My client wanted quite an intricate pattern for the knotwork, but didn’t want the piece to be too large. Thus, this piece is no more than 2.5 cm in diameter – you can see below the starting point with the design etched (not a necessary step to transfer the design, but I find it useful) onto the silver sheet before any drilling or piercing commenced:
Celtic knotwork design etched on silver
Once I had the design in place, the next step was to identify and mark which areas were to be removed with the saw and then, using a centre punch, mark out a seat for the drill bit in each area. After drilling all the holes needed to give access to the saw blade, I set about the task of carefully threading the saw blade through the metal, getting it up to tension in the frame and then piercing out as accurately as possible the design from the metal.
Pierced design completed; finishing process yet to begin …
Now begins the task I am least looking forward to; the painstaking work of filing, emerying and polishing each and every nook and cranny to get as perfect a finish on the piece as I am able. As you will see from the first image above, the pendant has been domed slightly and this will help access some of the smaller, more awkward areas as the doming process stretches the metal and opens up the gaps in the design a little. Lastly I’ll make a chunky bail out of silver wire and solder that into place.
I can foresee quite a few hours of rather tedious work ahead before I can present the finished piece …