Monday, March 25, 2019

Akhal Teke No. 1: Jewelry decisions

How swiftly this Akhal Teke set goes.  Over the weekend I discovered how to straighten the spots, how to do a bezel and then, in a blaze of glory, how to do the jewels!!  I haven't designed and made tack like this in WAY too long!!  I was chuffed all Sunday.  :)  At the time I thought I couldn't possibly catch up blogging --- the tack was evolving too fast.  However, I now realize I caught most of it.  This neckband is not finished -- the ends are not done, nor are the coatings finished.  But this will cover what I've done up to now.
What a delightful bind to be caught in:  How to show off this delectable bit of tack without boasting TOO much...!   I'll content myself recalling it'll be offered up for sale once it's done.

We last saw the neckband like this.  I was not altogether sold on the alignment of the first batch of spots.  I thought they were a little crooked-y.  I switched to setting them one at a time.  Oh, my, the difference!  Can you tell the diff between the earliest (left) and the latest (right)?
The one-at-a-time alignment was so much better that I decided to do something very rare:  tear up my earlier work and do it all over again.  This is not a decision to be taken lightly.  Every one of those spots is handmade, with many steps of manipulation and forming.  All ikandis are one-time use.  If it's not right the first time, it's doomed:  Peel it up and try again.

The trick to setting ikandis is finding the balance between gun-too-cold and gun-too-hot.  If your gun is too hot and you press too much or too long, you carbonize the poor things.  The leather beneath burns (so does the glue) and the spot won't stick.  (Ask whether I speak from experience!)  If your gun is too cold, all three things that should happen don't.  You should SEE the heated glue pushing out from beneath the spot, oozing and squirting.  You should FEEL the spot suddenly become slippery:  it moves a little as if alive --  you can use that movement to position it subtly.  And, you should be able to SMELL the hot glue.
Hot-gluing calls for lots of practice.
Here is the piece after re-doing the left spots:
Much better.

This would be a good place to show how I'm making the spots.  (I'm stealing text from my previous post.)  Cut a 3mm square in thirds (the "before").  Cut a groove in your wood block.  (I smoothed it with another metal chisel, no sandpaper.)  Put a blank in it upside down and hammer a wide chisel on it very, very gently (or you'll cut it in half.)  This chisel was a gift from my father.  Presto, a roughly half-tube shape ("after").
I realize it's a very cluttered picture;  there are multiple forms, many saddles' worth, here.  But really it's just a pine block with decades of my spot-forming work on it...

The next hurdle was the bezels, or frame settings, for the jewels.  As I got deeper into making this tack, and studied so many references, it became obvious the jewels would be the main challenge.  They are almost always carnelian, with some turquoise.  Akhal Teke tack gemstones, in my references, were NOT faceted.  Using glass conebacks or Swarovskis, no matter how cute and tiny, would not be an option if realism was the goal.  Somewhat amazing myself, I showed great wisdom in choosing to attack one thing at a time:  bezels before jewels.  Somehow I had to make tiny frames and fit them into these 4mm x 5mm ikandi plates.

I tried silver tape, but that didn't work.  I thought of using Mylar, so successful for me in Draft Harness and smaller Parade sets.  Nope - too light.  After sleeping on it, I realized that only the ikandis themselves would work.  The color and texture of the metal must match.  (It's along about now I'm starting to wonder whether the Rio Rondo dangles I so eagerly ordered will match.  I hadn't ordered Rio Rondo parts in decades!!  I forgot the NMTM discount --  only to discover I had a standing credit from God knows how long ago!!  Thank you Carol... for existing!...)

I cut a thin strip from a larger ikandi and bent it to a ring, and squeezed and hot-glued it in place.  Lo and behold, it worked.
Only the daintiest handling and most patient manipulation could be used.  This is right at the edge of what I can control.
Ready for the last step!

All along, I'd been thinking how I'd do the carnelian.  Using actual carnelian was kind of stopped by mine being so yellow and light-orange:  it wasn't red enough.  I had some reddish Amber that was sort of closer to the right shade.  I remembered some Coral.  I hunted all over for it (that took a morning) and finally found the necklace.  But the Coral, though exactly the right color, was glass-hard, and my files made little progress.  I didn't have the tools to cut or shape it, let alone polish it.  Failure on this front.

After a long, hard, thoughtful pause, I ran to the grocery store, completely forgetting Sally Beauty Supply was just as close.
Remember:  Anything Goes if it Looks Right!  I had thought all along I'd have to turn to this.  The advantage is the many colors polish comes in;  I could get exactly what I wanted, which was that rich 'chu' orangey-red tone, with a brightness to it.  The trick then became building up layers; I wanted a slight 'bascule' or bulge, while capillary action gave me the opposite.  :(  The last best refinement was to cut a grove or tiny thin line of separation between the 'stone' and the bezel, only possible while the polish was still workable.  I used my littlest needle chisel a lot. 
Hooray for Sally Hansen.

Here's hoping the final clear coat won't mess it up.

I've only just begun.  The end plates have to be made, and final coatings/sealants done.  But I am very well pleased with it so far.

As I mentioned, this is a practice piece.  It is not my NMTM piece and was not intended to be.  I needed to start earlier than April.  I am hoping to complete this lovely set, gain knowledge thereby and launch into an Akhal Teke set for myself...  and THAT one could very well be using real stones, real silver.  When I know what I'm doing, look out Brasenose -- I've got some Amethyst that would look Splendid on you!

1 comment:

  1. Since I missed out on this one, keeping fingers crossed I'll be lucky with your BreyerFest 2020 giveaway!