Matt's Awesome Stuff
Handfast Necklace & Earrings
Last updated: 15Apr2012
This set was a quite personal gift for a teenaged friend sometime in 2010. At the time she was struggling to control self-injury urges so I made this set for her to give her something nice to focus on (among other things, it seems to have worked, far as I know).
The weave is a custom unnamed variation most similar to the Handfast weave, designed by the giftee. The largest rings are 22awg custom-drawn Argentium wire, the custom-anodized niobium is 24awg, and the smaller rings are 26awg Argentium.
This piece has some (so far) unique elements to it. One is, instead of doubled rings, some places have wide and flat cuff-like rings. These I made from hammered 22awg Argentium which was then coiled and saw cut with a jeweler's saw. They're difficult to make especially in such a tight aspect ratio so I've never attempted it since. The other element is the queen ring in the center, formed by a somewhat (unnecessarily?) elaborate process. Both elements are visible here:
The queen ring was the only part of the design I contributed to. To personalize pieces I try to work in at least one ring somewhere that has some uniquely personal connection to them. A ring made from the metal on their first car, or a nail from their first home, or in this case, a single ring color matched to her irises. It's not visible unless you're within a couple inches so in this case it's not an aesthetic design, merely a personalized one.
The inner colored band is titanium (for strength, rather than niobium). It was first anodized green, then I scraped away at it with some course abrasive, stripping scratches in it back to base metal color, then re-anodized it to a lower voltage blue (leaving what remained of the original green intact). She's not the first person with eyes that change between blue and green that I've made jewelry for, so I wanted a different approach this time.
To fancy it up, I coiled two 32awg Argentium strands side-by-side around the titanium, and then unwound one of the stands to give it spacing for the color to show through. I coiled the end result and clipped off the ring with best color match.
Much to her annoyance I insisted she pick each of the design elements, in every detail. It took weeks. People do not often appreciate how difficult it is to actually select each option, even moreso difficult for me if I was to try to guess their preferences and do it for them. But in the end it results in a piece that they helped create, that's as perfect for them as they're capable of deciding it to be, and as unique as they are. I don't give away things people could buy off a shelf. I completed the necklace except for a clasp, which I had her make for herself from wire.
The process starts off by narrowing in on a specific weave (takes hours sometimes) and then making modifications to personalize it. In the case of colors, she knew she wanted a rosey purple tone so then it was only a matter of which rings should be silver and which colored. Rather than make and destroy a dozen samples, at this point I find it's often easier to model the piece virtually where I can make changes quickly. Here's a stack of renders I've shrunk down so they're easier to see.
In this case she picked the fourth across on the top. Next, I had the idea to use some non-standard rings, so I came up with wire-wrapping some joints (left) and cuff links (right) and whipped up this demo. You can also see I didn't start including colors yet, but had started dabbling with a fancier queen ring:
She liked the cuffs best.
Here are a couple pictures of the construction process. Anodized coils prior to cutting (before being re-anodized to color the gaps):
Some cuff links laying around next to three other types of rings:
The earrings were an afterthought. The chain was too long to be a choker so I had a few extra inches. I thought up a three-sided column and whipped up this cheap render:
She liked the basic idea so I put it together.
This was the first (and so far only, which will probably not change) piece that I made using some experimental prototype cutters sent to me by the Xuron corporation. The cutter design was an interesting concept, but was overly ambitious and I thought the results weren't as good as their other existing products, so (according to them anyway) based on my feedback they decided not to lauch the product.
Oh, and, here's a picture of me trying it on before I gave it away. Either I'm insufficiently feminine, or the necklace is insufficiently masculine...