Baby Snapping Turtle Pendant

Baby Snapping Turtle Pendant by Tom Sterling

This is how an engraving begins. My design is laser printed on ordinary kitchen baking parchment. The laser printer toner doesn’t stick well to the paper, and with a little encouragement from the antler burnisher, will transfer to the sticky Dammar varnish.

Above, I’ve engraved all of my design lines.  This will be a relief carving, so I need to go quite deep when removing the background.  As I carve and round over the turtle parts, I’ll end up re-engraving all of these lines several times…

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More background removal, using carbide burs now.  The right side is about correct, the left side needs lots more work…

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Above, all background removal done, and a little inking thrown in, just to see how it might look when finished.  Here’s a side view of the total depth, as well.  Technically this is “low relief” engraving, but it’s still pretty deep! I also find it easier to see what I’m doing when I cut the darker metal around the edges.  Less glare, as well.

Also, I’ve begun carving the shell to make it look like it is round.  Since this is low relief, it’s a little tricky to make things look right.  There’s not much depth to work with, and it’s more than just carving away everything that doesn’t look like a turtle shell.  There’s a lot of taking off a little bit

, then pulling my head out of the microscope and looking to see how it’s working.  Then, lather, rinse, repeat until it looks like a turtle shell to the naked eye.

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I couldn’t resist adding a little sand texture to the smooth sand in front of the turtle.  Just because I’m curious to see how things will eventually look.  Behind his front legs, I’ll eventually be adding in the turtle tracks as he/she books for the relative safety of the water, before the local critters spot him/her.

I’ve finished carving the shell, his arms and legs, and head.  I’ve used a combination of flat gravers and carbide burs. I finished up by using a smooth faced punch to move metal around and smooth everything over. Engravers call this “sculpting.”
Finished! This little turtle is ready to crawl off to his new home… He’s an inch and three quarters tall.  The pendant is hand engraved and carved from Al6V4 titanium, with an inlaid 24 karat gold cross on the reverse, and Argentium™ silver jump ring and leather neck cord.

Thanks for looking!


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