Part three of four

A World Unfolds

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the project was picking and arranging the stones, and watching the fantasy environment develop around the crystal. One of the first major elements that I made, and one the client had requested, was fire. For that, I picked out a red spinel I had been holding on to for a long time. It was a round, exceedingly deep faceted stone, and I set it with the culet facing up to represent a flame, with a row of bead set orange sapphires beneath.

Planning the final phase of construction – the top cap platinum work is almost finished, but the bottom cap is till being planned, and stones arranged. The fire element is in place to the left, but still needs its shelf, and many other stones are being considered for the down-facing bottom half.

I raised it up on a pedestal and placed it on one of the platinum shelves, next to the waterfall. Other shelves had different groupings and color combinations of gems to represent gardens and flowers: green garnets, pink and blue sapphires, and rubies, among others.

View from another side…….. Getting ready to do the final gold work on top, still planning the bottom.

The cityscape was dominated…….

…by domes of chalcedony, chrysoprase, chrysacolla, moonstones, opal and tourmaline, among many others. These were all set in 18K gold with granulated borders, and all had small pieces of tube inserted in and around the bezels – these would be drilled out later to hold the rivets that would eventually fasten them to the platinum shelves.

There were many major challenges along the way….

Maintaining perfect vertical and horizontal lines in relation to the aqua crystal while building the platinum shelf structure was extremely difficult, and required constant vigilance. A piece of silver tubing somehow found its way into my platinum tray, and then onto one of the shelves during a soldering operation, melting into a big mess requiring hours to remake the area.

Most difficult was the fitting of the prayer wheel…

getting it to fit as close as possible into its little carved out niche in the back of the Aqua, with its caps just barely overlapping the top and bottom caps – getting the platinum ribbed cage structure to be in just the right position with all of its different arms connecting at different levels onto shelves that had to be made to get that position just right.

And then, to top it off, the most formidable challenge of all…..

…was getting the prayer wheel to spin smoothly in its cage, and also be removable, with an opening bail. I had spent hours making one beautiful little bail, and then realized it wouldn’t work – I needed to have the locking mechanism at the top of the cage actually grab and hold the bail attached to the top of the spindle, so the the wheel would be free to spin, but also not be able to come out of its mooring at the bottom cage, where the blue sapphire cab at the other end of the spindle fit into a small depression.

The top cap platinum work is done, and now I’m planning the final layout of stones so I can finish the gold units that will be attached later.
This backside view shows the piece near completion, and you can see the rivet tubes for the granulated gold plates that have already been set with their stones. Many of the plates have mirror plates opposite, so that the high dome cabs face both up and down, and vertically aligned with the main crystal. You can also see the intense amount of weird fabrication in the platinum. There are still several gold units yet to be attached on the right.

After much frustration and deliberation, I finally figured out a locking mechanism….

……that would grab the bail when it was in the open position, and then, by closing and locking the safety on the bail, the spindle would be held securely, while still allowing the wheel to spin freely. The mechanism was also small, and very discreetly positioned so as to not interfere with the line of the top of the cage. Maybe the most satisfying moment with this project was getting that system to work, and work really well. Once I had that figured out, I was on the home stretch…..

Ready to watch the fourth and final installment in the ‘Vanishing Illusions’ series? Yes! Take me there!


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