Titanium Dragonflies Pendant and Earrings Suite Tutorial


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Beginning a titanium and gold dragonfly-themed pendant and earrings set.  The pendant is 2.25 inches high by 0.9 inches wide. Mirror image earrings are 0.9 inches high by 0.5 inches wide.

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Above is the beginning of the Grade 2 titanium pendant and earrings. The pendant is one eighth of an inch thick, and the earrings are one sixteenth of an inch. I’ve cut all of the outlines with a V-graver, and washed away all the remaining design transfer.

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Above I’ve cut the pockets in the eyes for gold inlays. Ive also undercut the edges and raising a field of tiny hooks in the bottom to catch hold of the parallel gold wires I’m going to inlay. A very important part of the planning for engravings such as these is when to add precious metal inlays. In this case, I want to add the 18 karat rose gold eyes and the 24 karat yellow gold body inlays as early as possible. Since these will be flush inlays I’ll need to stone the excess gold flat with the surface, and I don’t want to impact the engraved lines any more than I have to, so adding the inlays early on is very important.

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Here I’ve added in several parallel 28 gauge rose gold wires and “tacked” them into place in the pockets below the surface of the metal with a small steel punch and light blows. Rose gold is such a hard alloy that I cant use my normal brass punch for this operation. Rose gold is terrible stuff to inlay, it work hardens instantly, but it’s the only way I know of to get a nice rosy/coppery color that won;t eventually darken.

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Above, I’ve pounded (literally!) the wires into a single mass with pretty hard blows of the steel punch.

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Here are both earrings with the rose gold inlaid in the eyes. Notice the excess gold overflowing the edges.

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I’ve used a small scraper and a 600 grit diemakers abrasive stone to cut the rose gold flush with the surface of the titanium.

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Above you can see the tiny cuts around the edges of the eyes that really make the gold inlays stand out from the background. I’ve also used a V-graver to cut parallel lines inside the bodies to begin removing the excess titanium in the inlay pockets.

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I’ve used a small round carbide bur in a micromotor grinder to remove the rest of the body material. Small flat gravers would work as well.

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On the left you can see the completed 24 karat yellow gold inlay after stoning and the tiny trim lines cut around the edges.

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And all of the gold inlays complete.

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The next chore is to remove all of the background material with parallel V-cuts and carbide burs. You can see various stages on both of the earrings.

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After the background is completely removed, I use a small sharp carbide stippling point to make the background a uniform texture (left image).

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Above is one of the earrings completed and inked. Notice how I used tiny V-cuts to detail the wings, and added in tiny shading cuts in the body segments. Inking darkens all the cuts and the background, really making the design and inlays come to life.

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The completed pair of earrings. They’re about 3/4 of an inch long, Grade 2 titanium with 18 karat rose and 24 karat yellow gold inlays.

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The earrings are done in the Titanium Dragonflies Pendant suite, but I need to quit procrastinating on the pendant. So, here I’m excavating the rose and yellow gold inlay cavities. Since I’ve covered the inlay process on the earrings, I won;t go into detail on the pendant inlays. They follow the same process, just larger spaces and some more expensive gold…

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Excavating the eyes, undercuts and floor hooks.

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Excavated body cavity.

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I have to add the gold in several non-continuos spots, because the design has ribbons that cut across the body cavities.

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Several stages of gold inlay, with the finished gold in the right image.

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Removing the background (left image), and stippling in the right image. Stippling isn’t one of my favorite activities since it’s pretty much a high pressure (don’t screw it up now…) version of watching grass grow.

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A couple of detail shots.

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Adding detail in the wings. Note (right image) the stark difference between the detailed wing and the non-detailed. The bug begins to really come alive with detailed wings.

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The Titanium Dragonfly Pendant and Earrings suite is complete. Grade 2 Titanium, 18 karat rose gold, 24 karat gold, sterling silver bail, 20 inch leather neck cord.

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And a couple of detail images of the finished pendant and an earring.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling
http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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