Part two of four

What did I get myself into?

With the prayer wheel finished, the next major hurdle would be to create the caps for both top and bottom of the crystal, and the cage structure for attaching the prayer wheel. I wanted the metal of the caps holding the aquamarine crystal and the wheel to be white and as visually minimal as possible, so as not to interfere with the blue color of the stone, and structurally strong while being delicate, so I chose platinum.

Positioning the prayer wheel with the first stage of platinum fabrication, checking for height, and placing some of the first larger elements (the fire element) as a step in planning the next phase of adding horizontal platinum shelves
The beginnings of the platinum cage, the tube for the three connector pins, and other platinum elements.

The challenges of creating these cap ends were obvious right off the bat: fitting edges that were totally uneven and stepped, and different from top to bottom, while keeping the “waterfall” area that Glenn Lehrer had fashioned exposed and visible, and maintaining vertical lines while also creating horizontal structures that were consistently perpendicular to the vertical facets of the crystal.

The Platinum cage is now complete and ready to be cut in half to form the bottom and top elements which will hold the Prayer Wheel in position. The tube is closed and will be drawn into star shaped tubing, so that it is vertically striated to blend in with the aqua crystal.

Then, the caps had to be joined together with narrow pins or tubes that were perfectly aligned top to bottom, which would be visually minimal and vertically parallel with the natural striations of the crystal.

And, finally, there was this one last, “don’t know if I can do this” challenge:

To each cap I needed to attach half of a dome-shaped cage, perfectly aligned to each other vertically top to bottom, at just the right height to accommodate the structure of the prayer wheel so that it could rotate within the cylindrical cut in the back of the aqua.

Building these caps was one of the most arduous and slow events of my entire career!

There were so many variables to consider with each step of the process that I would spend considerable time just staring and contemplating my next move. First came fitting the sides of the bottom and partial cap on top, then fitting the steps and seating the caps, slowly building in structure. I also made the many gold bezel settings for the tongues and high dome cabs, and then fabricated the corresponding horizontal platinum shelves they would be riveted to.

Working on the development of the shelves
Organizing and planning stone placement options. Here you can see the support tubes are in place for the vertical pin in front, and the development of shelves on the top cap.

The coolest thing……

…was the cage structure for holding the spindle of the prayer wheel. In my mind, I held an image of the space/time bending structure from the movie Contact, and created a series of platinum ribs made of knife-edge wires, with the narrow sides facing out. I fashioned it as a ball structure, then, after much deliberation, cut it in half, but not exactly the same length with each rib. One rib needed to fit down just behind the waterfall on the top side, while another needed to be shorter to fit some of the horizontal shelf structures on the bottom cap.

Here, the platinum cage is attached, and a bail (which was later scrapped) is in place on the spindle of the prayer wheel. Also barely visible by the chrysacolla cab is the tube for holding one of the other vertical pins that will hold the caps together, and just below it, the corresponding tube on the bottom cap. The shelf structures are almost finished on top, and many of the gold settings are done as well.

I worked on this part of the project a long, long time, and had to force myself to work at times, as it was sheer drudgery after a while. Sit, stare, contemplate, make one little addition. Repeat. Repeat again, and again…..  But, eventually, something wonderful took shape……

Take me to the next post in the ‘Vanishing Illusions’ series!


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