October 25, 2013

Melisandre Necklace

It is almost Halloween, and I'm so close to being done with both of my costumes! I cannot wait to get into them and take a million pictures so I can post them here! In the mean time, I thought I would document my construction of the Melisandre necklace.

I searched far and wide for someone who had made a good version of her necklace. Hard to find. The best one I found was actually made out of paper. PAPER! Here is the video, and although she speaks in a different language, it is a fantastic tutorial!:

However, I did not want to make mine out of paper. I tend to be quite snobbish about my materials. I don't like to use just any fabric; I value accuracy. I don't like to use materials that would not look or feel like the real thing. That being said...I cannot work with metal to save my life. Even though my brother has a job as a welder. He took one look at what I was trying to do and shook his head. Jewelery making is apparently quite different than welding with stronger metals. And besides...the price of gold, or gold colored metal, is expensive. Yes, I really looked this up. And almost bought materials to start real jewelry casting. And then changed my mind because of the amount of things I did not know how to do, and could not find tutorials for online. Jewelry making is one thing. It is quite another to make custom shaped jewelry. So I was forced to come up with another option. I decided to make a clay version of the pieces of the necklace, create molds from those, make resin pieces using the molds, and then paint them with gold leaf. While I am quite pleased with the results, it was very time consuming compared to the paper version.

First I created cardstock templates. It is far easier to sketch and make mistakes on paper than clay, and as you can see from all the Sharpie lines, I did quite a bit of changing . Here is the template for the shoulder piece (the ink ran when I pressed it onto the wet clay, which is why the paper is different colors.) :

I used those templates to cut out clay pieces, which I had to bake to harden. Then I used a flexible mold maker to make a mold of the pieces. I bought this kit at Michaels; it comes with white and yellow putty that you have to mix together, press your piece into, and then it hardens but remains flexible. Flexible is key. Why? Because you can wiggle your piece out! Without a silicone mold, you have to buy mold release. Mold release just sounds like there could be a few that don't come out of a non-silicone mold. No thank you. Anyway, the next step was to use a resin casting kit that I also bought at Michaels. The key during this process was measuring and stirring for long enough. The quantities of both clear and yellow liquids had to be exactly equal to come out well, and because the molds were small I was using a very tiny quantity of liquid, so it was rather hard to get the measurements just right. I did have a few pieces that were beyond using, but most came out pretty well:/

Here are the clay pieces:

And the molds:

I tried making a mold of the shoulder pieces, but the mold dried too fast because it took so long to mix a large quantity of the puddy together. So I just ended up making another clay piece for the other shoulder. Then I painted the pieces with gold paint, this is different than the gold leaf I mentioned earlier. I had never used gold leaf before, and didn't know how opaque it would be. So I figured a bottom layer of gold paint wouldn't hurt just in case. It turns out gold leaf is entirely opaque, so this step was unnecessary. Here are a smattering of the pieces all painted gold:

Ooo shiny! I then pinned the pieces to my dress form so I could space them out accurately. I first tried attaching all of the pieces with 18 inch gold jewelry wire...but I didn't like the way the pieces could move from where I had placed them. So I abandoned integrity yet again and used cardstock to make the links between the pieces. This picture is after painting the individual links with gold leaf, but the cardstock has not been painted yet.

Then I added a closure in the back, and voila! Necklace DONE. Five days of tireless work, but it was worth it. And now I'm having a hard time deciding which costume to wear for my Halloween party on Saturday!

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment, or a question!

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