My creations need to hold meaning for me, which is why this necklace has a hand-drawn, personalized version of a Fleur de lis. The Fleur de lis has had many meanings over time and in various contexts. To me the flames represent Love on the left, Power on the right, and Wisdom in the middle. The band holding them together signifies each one of us becomes a enlightened sovereign being when these three flame aspects – Love, Power and Wisdom – are in balanced.
You can make this necklace with whatever design you choose; that is, you do not have to use a Fleur de lis. And do select your own texture and doming shape(s).
It is helpful if you have a clear image in your mind and better yet a sketch. It matters not if your creation turns out like your sketch. For me, just looking at the sketch I begin to understand how I will need to construct the piece and if there are any obstacles to do so.
Project Materials and Supplies
Supplies, Tools, and Materials
- 35 – 40 grams of OneFire Sterling PMC or you may mix your own sterling using equal parts PMC3 and PMC Sterling.
- PMC Syringe and Paste
- Basic metal clay tools – needle tool, thickness slats, roller, anti-stick material, Teflon, shape templates, and your other favorites for rolling and cutting clay
- Cardstock and strapping tape or a paper cutting machine
- Three-dimensional object for doming clay
- Scratch-Foam Board (optional)
- Water and paintbrushes
- Snake roller and tissue blade
- Dehydrator and coffee cup warmer
- Craft knife or scalpel, drill bits, bur bits
- Micro-carving tools (optional)
- Jewelry miter box and jewelers saw (optional)
- Sanding sponges, Emery board, and catch tray
- Tumbler (rotary or vibratory), steel shot, polishing solution
- Patina of your choice and neutralizing solution
- Pliers – flat-, bent-, and round- nose
- Wire cutter
- Wire – 18-, 20-, and 22- gauge, round
- Eyelets, 2 mm
- Headpins of your choice, lobster clasp, and five or more closed O rings that fit into the lobster clasp
- Radial disc 22 grit and flexible shaft or 3M Sanding Sponges
- Silicone Polishing Discs and flexible shaft or Fine Sanding Sheets
Five Fleur de Lis Pendants
1 Make template for Fleur de Lis or your own design I used a scanner and a Silhouette cutting machine to size and cut out my freehand Fleur de Lis. If you do not have a cutting machine, you can draw or print your designs on cardstock, tape both sides avoiding seams with shipping tape and then cut these with tiny scissors or scalpel. Keep both parts—the cookie-cutter template and the cut-out cookie itself.
2 Select doming object There are doming kits available for purchase, or you can find a household object of your desired shape for making your piece three-dimensional. I wanted an organic shape to my dome, so I cracked eggshells in an unusual direction then washed and dried them. Because they are irregular in shape, I drew where I wanted to place my Fleur de lis.
3 Make the Domed Pieces My process eliminates most warping that tends to happen when you are working with 3-D elements. I oiled the eggshell surfaces, and then I placed a drop of water where I would be placing my wet clay. For the clay, I rolled clay on a subtle texture, Scratch-Foam Board. I rolled and cut out my ovals, using a green slat for three cards thick. I placed them on the eggshell, positioning and flattening them gently. I then added more water all around the oval. My anti-warpage theory is as the top of the clay dries in my dehydrator the bottom of my oval will be held to the eggshell by the adhesion and cohesion properties of water.
4 Dry and Sand Domes I checked these often as they dried in the dehydrator. I added water, and flattened the oval as needed. After these were dry, I sanded the edges of the domed ovals, keeping the original slant. I did this because I wanted a dark or patinaed frame around these, and leaving the gap here will allow that to happen. I did run them gently on a flat sanding surface so that they will lie flat on their backplate.
5 Cut out Fleur de lis or your design I wanted the Fleur de lis to have a shiny surface, no texture, and cut them three cards thick. I dried these on the eggshells as I did the ovals. After they were dry I sanded them carefully but not to completion. I did take a scalpel and clean up the edges. Because of their frailty, I will finish the rest of the sanding work when these are attached to their domed piece.
6 Make the Backplates I needed five backplates, all without texture. I cut these out of clay and dried them flat. Notice I made these on Teflon, placing the Teflon on a piece of glass that I had previously wet in order to keep that Teflon flat.
7 Sand Finish the Backplates Using my oval template I drew a fresh oval on each as a sanding guide. I would not sand up to my penciled oval, just equidistant from it all around. I matched them perfectly by holding the two matching sizes together back to back and sanded those to the same shape. I sanded the edges with progressively finer sanding sponges and then put beveled edges on top and bottom. I also sanded the tops because these will be finished to a shine.
8 Drill the Backplates I drilled holes in the backplates, to allow these pieces to dry faster when I added the top dome and to allow the steam and smoke from the kiln-fire process to escape. Holes are not absolutely necessary but they do hasten the overall process greatly. I also added my maker’s mark (KK.960) to the back of each backplate, indicating the silver is 96.0% silver. Lastly, I sanded away my sanding-guide oval. I then positioned the domed pieces on the respective backplates and traced them with a pencil.
9 Locate Fleur de Lis on Domed Piece I marked an + on the piece (north, south, east, west) with a pencil to use as a visual guide. I used the cut-out cookie Fleur de lis template and positioned this on my dome. I traced this with a pencil.
10 Add Fleur de lis to Domed Piece I painted watered-down paste on the back of the Fleur de lis and positioned this on the dome. I pressed gently with a rubber finger and removed the excess clay with a paintbrush, repeatedly. I allowed these to dry. Then I sanded the tops of the Fleur de lis and took a scalpel to all edges to bevel them. I nicked the surface of the domed piece a few times, so I cleaned up the tiny scratches with watered down paste.
To add the three lower lobes and three stripes of syringe on each Fleur de lis, I as usual penciled in my plan. I added the three lobes below, using syringe clay, and allowed these to dry. Then I added the three stripes of syringe and allowed these to dry.
11 Add the Fleur de lis Domed Piece to the Backplate As usual, I penciled in where I would place them. I placed a strip of syringe clay on the backside edge of the domed piece then saturated this with water. I placed this on the backplate, pressed slightly, and positioned into place using my newest penciled oval as my guide. I used a pointed rubber finger to remove excess clay then worked this seam quite a bit with a tiny paintbrush. I allowed these to dry.
I drilled tiny holes at the bottom of the three center pendants, which will later hold a decorative headpin.
Beads and Bails
12 Roll Snakes for Beads and Bails I rolled two snakes to make the plain beads, the beads with eyelets, and the bails to my Fleur de lis pendants. I selected the texture, again the Scratch-Foam Board. I placed a clean sheet of the Scratch-Foam on my work surface and taped a sheet to the bottom of my snake roller. For the bail and beads with eyelets, I rolled a snake, using thickness guides—a purple, red and blue slats, which comes to 18 cards in thickness. For the plain beads, I removed the blue slat and made a snake 14-cards thick. I allowed these snakes to dry completely.
13 Cutting or Sawing the Beads and Bails I marked the larger snake at 7 mm intervals for my main pendant bail, 6 mm wide for my medium pendants’ bails, and 5 mm wide for my small pendants’ bails and the beads with the eyelets. I marked the smaller snake at 5 mm intervals for the plain beads. I used a jeweler’s saw and a small miter box to cut on these lines.
I tried two other ways of cutting the snakes into beads, just to see if they were possible. One, I tried cutting one bead off using a tissue blade and going around the entire snake repeatedly until the bead snapped off. And two, I sawed the beads off with the jeweler’s saw without the miter box. Both of these worked well. I made extra beads.
14 Drill Holes, Shape Bails, and Carve for Eyelets I made beads, basically, little tubes through which will run a wire. Holes do not shrink proportionately like clay, because clay shrinks to the area of highest mass. As is my practice, I do not measure, say, the size of the wire I will use and the drill bit. Instead I eyeball the situation, using a drill bit a little larger than my wire, testing it by feeding the wire through, and allowing a little extra room for shrinkage.
To drill, I began with a scalpel to make a pilot hole, and then followed with a drill bit and finally a bur bit to bevel the hole’s edge. I drilled the larger beads and bails for a 20-gauge wire. I drilled the smaller beads for a 22-gauge wire. I then torch fired one large and one small bead and tried the wires again, to make sure my holes were large enough. Assured then, I drilled all the holes and beveled their edges with a bur bit. At this time I also beveled the side edges of each bead and bail.
I carved and filed a concave groove into the bail in which the pendant will sit in, when I set the bails on top of the pendants.
The preparation for the eyelets took a lot of work. Since my beads were more oblong than round, I first located where the eyelet will best hang and marked that with a pencil. I made a pilot hole with the scalpel. I drilled a shallow hole. I used a flat bur bit and a V-shaped carving tool to square and deepen the hole. I used a scalpel to carve two notches on the sides of this hole. All of this was so that when I set the eyelet, the bottom part of the eyelet would sit into the clay. Then as the bead shrank and the eyelet did not, the final placement of the eyelet would look good, without a stem.
15 Set Eyelets To set the eyelet I added syringe into the hole, placed the eyelet, and saturated with water. I cleaned up the excess syringe from the area and allowed these to dry. Then I added layer upon layer of watered-down paste to reinforce the eyelet and smooth the area.
16 Attach Bails to Pendants Whenever I attach a bail to a pendant I set most of the bail so that it lines up in front of the pendant with a smaller part of the bail lining up behind the pendant. This way, the pendant hangs at the best angle when the jewelry piece is worn. I achieve this by raising the pendant part up, say on a blue thickness slat, and setting the bail on the lower platform, such as a piece of glass.
First, I pencil marked the middle of the pendant and the middle of the bail. Then to set the bail, I added syringe into the premade groove. I added water. While pressing gently down on the pendant and bail, I pressed the pendant into the groove. I added more water and cleaned up the excess clay from the tops and sides. I allowed this to dry.
On the back of the pendant-bail then, I added three large dots of syringe and water then smoothed these out, maintaining their decorative look. The purpose here was to hide the seam and reinforce the strength of this joint. These dried to completion, of course.
17 Fire, Brass Brush, Tumble, and Patina Components I fired all of these finished pieces. I fired the tiny pieces on a fire blanket to keep track of them. I fired the pendants up side down in alumina hydrate to offer their shape a little support. After the firing process, I brass brushed all. To not lose tiny pieces like my beads and bails, I strung them on floral wire. And then I tumbled them in a vibratory tumbler for 30 minutes. I did this to work harden the surfaces.
I rinsed the pieces well, then patinaed all my components—pendants, beads, bails, lobster clasp, headpins. I did not patina the wire I would be using.
18 Preliminary and Fine Polish I kept the beads and bails on the floral wire throughout the patina and polish steps, which made working with them a lot easier. I added the decorative headpins at the bottom of the three largest pendants. I also added headpins to the beads with the eyelets. I finished and polished these and the Fleur de lis, using a bristle red radial disc, 22 grit, on a flexible shaft. One could use 3M Sanding Sponges.
I wanted the Fleur de lis to stand out, so I polished the tops of them with medium, fine, and extra-fine Silicone Polishing Discs. One could also use Fine Sanding Sheets.
I also polished the visible fronts of the backplate frames and their edges.
Now, everything is as ready as possible for assembling the necklace.
Assemble the Necklace
19 Make Fleur de lis Links I used 18-gauge wire for the links on the largest Fleur de lis. I used 20-gauge for the other four. On each, I put two rounds on wire between the O part of the link and the Fleur de lis. I hand painted patina on these new pieces. I then took a bristle red radial disc, 22 grit, and polished the newly patinaed wires.
20 Build the Necklace With my sketch at my bench, I made each link on the necklace. I used all bow links. I worked from the center Fleur de lis out toward the ends. The video below shows you how to make a bow link.
21 Length of Necklace I continued to add bow links until the necklace measured about 16 inches in length.
I added the lobster clasp to the right end, using a bow link, which added another ½ inch. To add about 2 more inches and make the necklace adjustable, I added five (5) closed 5.0 mm O rings, again using bow links as connecters. On the last bow link, I put a bead with an eyelet and added a decorative headpin on the eyelet.
22 Patina and Final Tumble When my necklace was complete there were many sections of bow links that needed patina and polishing. I painted these areas, using a paintbrush. And polished and touched up the entire necklace using again the bristle red radial disc, 22 grit, on a flexible shaft (or a 3M Sanding Sponge).
As the last step, I clasped the necklace closed and placed it into a vibratory tumbler with polishing solution. I tumbled it for ten minutes. This cleaned my final piece of my finger oils, evened out the patinaed surfaces, saturated the silver’s pores with polishing solution, and put a final shine to the necklace. I rinsed the necklace afterwards in polishing solution and dried and shined with a soft cloth.