The making of The Smaug Ring

Happy Birthday to my annoying, smelly little brother :)

For his Birthday, Jamie wanted me to make him a ring.

“something to do with dragons” was the remit…. so this is what I came up with…..

 

Inspiration, naturally, coming from the one and only Smaug.

I wanted to make Smaug’s tail the ring, and have The Arkenstone set into his claw-like tail end. I was also going to cut out a missing scale… even though I know his actual missing scale isn’t on his tale… but shh…. representations and artistic license and all that! I was also going to use brass, and use patinas and heat to create a darkened red colour and etch it to achieve a scaley look. And then pop into a box that would look like molten gold dripping over dragon skin…

And here’s how I did it!!

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Etching fluid is painted onto clean brass and allowed to dry.

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The ring design is traced onto the dry blackness.

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And a scribe is used to scrape away the black etching ground to reveal the final pattern.

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The metal is placed into a bath of nitric acid. Brass can take quite a while to etch, compared to silver or copper, so is left for about 30 minutes to produce a medium/deep etch depth. The black ground are removed with white spirits and the metal is cleaned.

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The ring is saw-pierced out of the metal sheet.

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And the missing scale is removed by drilling a small hole for the blade to slot through, and is then sawn.

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The edges are filed and sanded until smooth and all imperfections removed.

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The final shape is annealed, to soften the metal for forming.

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The ring is roughly formed. I didn’t use a ring mandrel because I wanted the coil to resemble a naturally curled up dragon tail. So, the band is a circle capable of comfortably fitting around the finger, but is not perfectly round. The ring is bound with binding wire, ready for soldering.

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The ring is soldered together, pickled and cleaned.

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To achieve this colour I painted flux on the brass and heated. This was repeated 7/9 times (I lost count!) and the metal was given a gentle clean and the patina was fixed with a little plastic coat.

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The ends of the claw-like, almost fleur-de-lis style tail are then wrapped perfectly around the labradorite faceted teardrop cabochan using a bezel pusher.

I picked labradorite to represent The Arkenstone because visually the colours match up beautifully, and I think the properties of labradorite fit in quite nicely with The Hobbit story.

Labradorite = “a stone of magic. wearing the stone allows one’s innate magical powers to surface.”

 

Ring finished. I moved onto my molten gold dripping dragon box.

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I striped out the insides of a found wooden box.

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Using a pendant drill, I scraped away little indents into the box.

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Which, using copious amounts of glue, were set into with off-cuts of faux chagreen.

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This material was also used to line the inside.

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And the book cover.

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Glue was built up around the scaled parts, which looks awful for now, but when leafed will appear like melting gold.

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The whole box is then painted with acrylics to match Smaug’s skin. Why? Well, the inside will be left as is, and I hope to have a few small cracks in the gold, so the red scales appear through.

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The surfaces are then painted with the leafing glue.

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And the leaf is applied.

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And smoothed over the surface.

 

Stay tuned for the next post…. sexy dragon makeup and the final piece will appear!!

 

Chloe out.

 

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