Friday, May 11, 2012

At least there's a happy ending...

I cannot say that I have ever had such a stressful, love/hate relationship with a project as I did this one. It's done, gone and delivered, thank goodness! And yes, she loves it!!!

Labradorite & Sterling Silver Pendant.
Terrible lighting/picture - sorry about that. I was in a hurry to get this gone.

In late December I was contacted by a potential customer about making a custom Labradorite necklace. My selection didn't include anything as large as what she was hoping for, so she began her own search, found a piece of Labrdorite and asked if she could send it. Sure, I said, why not!!!! What I failed to notice in her email was a comment she made saying that I'd need to probably "cut it down". Um, yeah. A slight understatement.

Here is what I received:
Crazy, beautiful, awesomely HUGE Labradorite slab!

Luckily, I have a friend that doesn't live too far away that agreed to take a look at it for me, and maybe cut and polish a cab from this. Lynn Bowes to the rescue!!! (I bet she has a cape somewhere!)

So, one gray winter morning (the gray factors in later), I took my stone and drove to meet with Lynn! I found her place - no problem - and it's pretty much everything I want when I grow up! In the country, on a beautiful piece of land with an incredible view, a couple of different buildings besides the adorable Craftsman style home with workshops, and, and, and.... well, I could go on, but you get the picture. I handed it over, and we both agree that an oval or marquee shape would be great. She got right to work, and didn't disappoint, in ANY way! This is what I received back from her:

The finished Labradorite Cab! Great job, Lynn!!!

Lynn's super sweet husband and I were talking before I left that morning, and he brought up another route I could take home that would save time, and keep me off of I-80. (I don't think I-80 will EVER be "finished". There is always construction going on, at all times of the year...)
I set out to find my way home, and immediately went the wrong way.
In my defense, it WAS a very gray day, so I couldn't use the sun, and there was also a very intriguing story on NPR. Don't judge me. It was probably 30 minutes before I realized I was going the wrong way and had to turn around. Of course, I ended up on I-80, and my trip home took almost 2 hours.

Less than a week goes by, and I have it back! What shall I do - so many ideas!!!???
How's this - over the next several weeks, I started and trashed wire five times, at least. Thank god I can recycle that wire. NOTHING was working, and I was getting very frustrated, and found myself avoiding my work area and making excuses.
There were two main issues - the sheer size of the cab, and that I thought having squared off edges would be a good idea. It wasn't. Nothing wanted to "flow" over those edges. She was fairly adamant that the setting be wire - not a bezel.
I finally created a frame I could live with, and decided to use spirals in an "S" shape (sideways), wired to the frame with a bent part on the top of the spiral to hold it in front. I was making progress, and then ran out of wire. That happens a LOT when one is extremely wasteful. Got more wire, and had actually wired ALL of the spirals on, and was OK with where it was going in front.
The stone was on my table during the majority of the work time, but every now and then you have to check the fit and put the stone into the work - blah, blah, blah.
The front is done(ish), I was checking the fit, and turned it over to address the back of the pendant.
It fell right the fuck, out of my hands. Sorry for the cursing there. That was probably the nicest word that exploded out of my mouth as it broke into two pieces on the floor.

Successful gravity check. It could have been SO MUCH worse.
After seriously freaking out for 15, 20 minutes, I sent a quick email to Lynn, and bless her soul, she calmed me down and said no worries, we can fix it.
She said, go have a drink. So I did. Several, in fact.

Another trip to Lynn's was soon planned, but this time I actually looked up the alternate route that her Hubs tried to explain to me. WAAAAAAY better! Much more scenic and relaxing, plus now it was spring, plants and trees were blooming, the sun was out, and I was feeling optimistic!
Lynn was confident she could fix it, and also helped me by rounding the front of the cab. We both crossed out fingers, and hoped that everything would turn out for the best.
She is a miracle worker, and I'm sure she probably wore her cape as she was fixing it. Here it is, all better!

Horrible quickie picture. Honestly, I was afraid to even TOUCH this!
Didn't Lynn do an amazing job???
So now I have it back, again.
However, now I have rounded edges, and some very minor visual blemishes I wanted to work around. NOW, I have focus!!!
I tore all of the wire work from the frame of my last attempt and got to work. Had to order more wire, of course.
At this point, I've had the stone for four months. My customer sends me an email, noting that it had been a "few weeks" since we had chatted. I hadn't yet told her that I broke the stone. Oops. Must have slipped my mind somehow! Here's part of the email I sent to her:
I'm pretty sure it's been MORE than a few weeks.

There's a story to tell here, and I suppose it's time. Have NO FEAR though! I actually worked (no lie) 14 hours on the pendant this past weekend.

So... I was what I thought was pretty close to finished, for the 5th time. I was turning the pendant over in my hands and it slipped, breaking into two pieces on the floor. I have a mouth like a sailor, and in that moment (and for a long time after) I came up with a great variety of new words. Words that would impress the best cussing fools out there.
No one was home at that moment, and the parrot couldn't hear me well enough to learn anything new.

I didn't know what to do, aside from contact my friend that had cut and polished the rough slab you sent me. She told me not to panic, and have a glass of wine. I still panicked while I was drinking that glass of wine (or 3).

I took the stones to her, and she explained what I was aware of with a stone this big. It's fragile (I knew that), and shouldn't be dropped (knew that too). Stones that big and thick have natural cleavage (weak) areas, and that's one of the reasons Labradorite has such a gorgeous amount of color. In most cases, a stone is cut and shaped based on those natural cleavages, and the risk of breakage is minimized. As luck would have it, the break was a clean one and it could be repaired.

She's a miracle worker, and just this past week, it was back in my hands, in one lovely piece! I also asked that she round off the front of the stone, so that it had less of a square edge to it. The size has not changed. It is still 3" tall and 1.5" wide. The easing of that front edge gave me a greater ability to work in a smoother fashion, if that makes sense...

There it is, in a nutshell. The stone is as beautiful as it ever was, and let me tell you - it's SECURE!!!
Please give me some feedback as to what you think.
All my best,
Angie Simonsen


I sent her a picture of it in progress, along with that email, and didn't hear back for three days - I started freaking out again.
However, all was well!!! I finished it, took some terrible pictures of it, as I was getting to be in a hurry to no longer have this stone in my possession.
Here are the last pictures (aside from the one at the top of this forever post:

There it is. Story over. Thanks for listening, and I won't be doing this type of thing again, so please don't ask. (Except for the one I have in progress. I'll finish that and promise not to break it!)


Anonymous said...

Wow Angie! Sounds like my kind of day! I'll have two ;)

Angie Simonsen said...

Thanks for the comment (and reading!). NEVER again!