All the Trimmings!

Just in time for Christmas!  I may have been negligent with my blog, but I've been very busy in my studio.  I recently finished this large enameled crucifix with all the trimmings for my dearest friend Jovan.  All told, this cross took almost three months of work.  I laughed, I cried, I learned a heck of a lot about enameling large, flat objects.  (Let's just say I'll do things differently next time around.)  But I have a hankering now for iconography, so expect more in the upcoming months...  

The Front of Jovan's Cross
The reverse side
Here was the process:

Step 1 - Research and sketching.  I spent a lot of time looking at images of historic Russian crosses.  I decided early on that I would do a pictorial version with no lettering, except for Jovan's name on the reverse.  Here's my final sketch:

Step 2 - Bending all the little wires.  This was a challenge. I started with the thicker wires outlining the figure of Christ, and filled in from there...

Step 3 - Fabricating the Back.  On the front side, I focused on a classical figure, but on the reverse, I went a little crazy and free form.  It's a cut-out design in 22 gauge sterling, on the top is the holy spirit, which I interpreted as a phoenix swooping down.  Jovan told me that sheaves of wheat are very important as symbols of bounty and goodness.  The fish at the bottom are personal as well, since beyond the obvious interpretation, Jovan has a delightful coy pond in his back yard.

I particularly like the image with all the holes drilled in the metal.  There's no going back at that point!  For each tiny hole, I had to thread my saw blade through the opening, make a tiny cut, then repeat the process for every single hole you see.  I remember sawing for a very long time.

Step 4 - Fusing the Base.  This was a serious pain in the butt.  It's a large piece of silver, and I probably used a whole tank of gas trying to fuse the top and bottom together.  As a side note, I would fabricate it out of sterling next time, but that's a whole different story. 

Don't try this at home...
Step 5 - Attaching the Wires.  This was a challenge, so I set the wires in place in stages.  First, I adhered some gold leaf where the three halos were going to be.  I had to eyeball it a little. Secondly, I laid in the wires of the main outline of the figure, then filled in with all the detail work.  It took about 6 separate firings to get the wires in place.

Step 6 - Colors! The best part, finally. 

I was on a bit of a roll, so I made a little cross for my sister Karen, who is a United Church of Christ Minister...