I need to make a pair of earrings that feature a Celtic knot. What I’m after is a domed piece of round silver sheet (concave when looking at the front), with a raised Celtic knot design also domed to fit the sheet and attached thereto.
I have battled with various methods in my head for months:
- making the knot out of wire, doming and soldering to the sheet
- making the knot out of wax wire, attaching to wax sheet and casting
- 3D printing the design and casting
- etching the design
- sawing the design from sheet and soldering onto another sheet
I discounted method 1), as I cannot even imagine the problems I’d encounter attempting to get gold wire to assume the shape I need. I attempted method 2), thinking wire is easier to manipulate than metal wire - but I failed miserably. I would love to be able to do method 3), as hubby has a good 3D printer, but attempting to produce a printable file, with a continuous Celtic knot with wire going under and over itself will be a whole other kind of hell. Method 4), etching the design is maybe possible, but I would have to use aqua regia, as the earrings are to be in gold. Method 5) might be doable, except these earrings are to be studs and the customer wanted nothing bigger than 15 mm diameter. Oh, and I need to set a ruby in the centre of each!
My design is basically four “trefoil” knot motifs arranged in a circle, each with one point opened up so that they all join into one continuous knot. I have opened up the centre into another circle so I can make and add a stone setting.
Any thoughts on the best method would be gratefully received. Many thanks.
Could you carve the knotwork in wax as a flat disk. Cast and mold so you have two earrings and then dome? Wax carving is fun. You can lightly scribe the design directly on the wax and mistakes are easily fixed. Battery operated wax pens work well. Since you now have a mold you could make multiple easily as needed.
Any of those methods could work, but the results would be different in each case. Which to choose really depends on how you want these earrings to look and function. In general, casting will result in heavier items, while making them out of wire will give you the lightest result; the etched version would be somewhere in the middle.
If you want to fabricate them, probably the easiest way would be to pierce them in gold sheet, then dome them, then use repousse’ and chasing tools to bring out the overs and unders in the knotwork, then either soldering on a bezel or flush-setting the stones.
If you want to cast them, here’s a way you haven’t talked about. With your dapping block, make some domed shapes in metal (copper is fine) about the right size, stick them down to a board with wax, then pour plaster of Paris over them. When you pull the plaster off the board, you’ll have some smooth negative dome shapes into which you can easily carve the knotwork designs in reverse as well as a cup in the middle to set your stones in. If you soak the mold in water then let the surface dry off, you can pour hot wax into the depressions, then pour it out. This will leave you a set of contoured shells that will be lighter than what you’d get by trying to carve them in wax directly.
I have made a pair of earrings for years using a triskellion motif. I rolled them, flattened them them and soldered them to a 3/4 x .22 ga. disk. I domed them and polished. The problem has always been the amount of hand work compared to the price I could charge. Great fun to make, lots of interest, but once the price I had to charge was in the equation the interest in owning them became non existent. I make a 1/2 dozen pair a year maybe. I have seen your earrings as described at every Irish Fest or Scottish Games I have attended. They are all cast. I think from a price point concern you may be looking in that direction. There may be an embossing tool you can use with a rolling mill but I haven’t looked for one myself.
Good luck. This is the place to find the answer.
Ooh that sounds like it may work a treat Karen! I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you very much! What sort of wax would you use? Probably the only kind I haven’t yet bought!
Hi Helen Steve Walker may be able to give you some guidance. Im not sure if hes on orchid or not but hes on fb and possibly sbj. He does these types of celtic jewellery all the time.
Havent spoken to you for a long time xx
Thanks to everybody who’s contributed ideas. It is much appreciated. Robin, I took your advice and contacted Steve Walker. He was also a great help, thank you.
I am in the process of making a ring with a Celtic Knot design on the shoulders - I decided that 3d was the way to go with this design as the client has made it twice as difficult by adding a gold element to the silver design - I used this tutorial by PJ Chen (its in english) and easy to follow and the resulting casting is perfect
Wow! Thanks so much Cath!!! I’m definitely going to have a go at this!