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!!
Etching fluid is painted onto clean brass and allowed to dry.
The ring design is traced onto the dry blackness.
And a scribe is used to scrape away the black etching ground to reveal the final pattern.
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.
The ring is saw-pierced out of the metal sheet.
And the missing scale is removed by drilling a small hole for the blade to slot through, and is then sawn.
The edges are filed and sanded until smooth and all imperfections removed.
The final shape is annealed, to soften the metal for forming.
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.
The ring is soldered together, pickled and cleaned.
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.
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.
I striped out the insides of a found wooden box.
Using a pendant drill, I scraped away little indents into the box.
Which, using copious amounts of glue, were set into with off-cuts of faux chagreen.
This material was also used to line the inside.
And the book cover.
Glue was built up around the scaled parts, which looks awful for now, but when leafed will appear like melting gold.
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.
The surfaces are then painted with the leafing glue.
And the leaf is applied.
And smoothed over the surface.
Stay tuned for the next post…. sexy dragon makeup and the final piece will appear!!