I’ve engraved the outlines of the starfish, and using a tiny carbide bur, I’ve excavated the pocket for the inlay. I’ve also undercut all the sides, and laid in lots of tiny hooks to catch the gold wire. Above you can see the beginning of the gold wire being punched into place. The tiny hooks in the silver hold the gold quite well, even when it is just barely punched down. I want to leave enough gold above the pocket so when I really punch the wire down, it will become a single, solid mass and flow into the side undercuts and into all the gaps between the hooks. 24 karat gold will readily cold-weld to itself, becoming a single piece. This is how dental fillings were done for many centuries, before mercury amalgams were introduced.
And here’s the final punching, followed by outlining the inlay with tiny engraved lines. Normally I would stone the gold completely flat, but since I’ll by using a tiny beading punch to texture the starfish skin, I won’t bother here.
Finished! This little turtle is ready to crawl off to her new home… She’s an inch and a half tall, hand engraved in 416 stainless steel, with a sterling silver backing, and inlaid 24 karat gold starfish.
Thanks for looking!