Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Custom Tibetan Turquoise Bolo Tie

A family friend had a very large nugget of Tibetan turquoise he acquired while living in Asia in the 1970's. He wanted it made into a bolo tie and asked me to put together a custom design.

This project was full of challenges. First, it's daunting to work with a precious one-of-a-kind object from a client, in particular a soft stone like turquoise that likes to crack. Second, the nugget was very irregular, making it hard to set (at least it presented a challenge for my fledgling stone-setting skills). Third, someone had already drilled two holes all the way through the stone back in the day, so that it could hang as a pendant on a cord, and I'd have to figure out what to do with those very visible, crookedly-drilled holes.

I put together a design that involved prong setting the turquoise nugget, attaching said prongs to a pierced sterling silver backplate, and putting ball rivets through the existing drilled holes so that they'd attach to the backplate. Then I attached a bolo mechanism, brown leather cord, and silver end pieces on the cord.

The client appears very satisfied, and I am too. More than anything I'm happy that I'm increasingly able to come up with a design in my head and replicate it in metal pretty faithfully.

Here's a few photos of the initial sketch and the final piece.


Dad said...

All I can say is "Wow!" I like your drawings almost as much as the piece itself. Wonderful design solution to a tricky problem.

Kathrin said...

WOW is the right word! Your Dad said what I was thinking when I read your post and looked at your drawing. Beautiful work!

Ali la Loca said...

Thanks so much!

--jenna said...

That's fantastic, Ali. The "hidden" workmanship at the back of the setting really says a lot about how your skills as a metalsmith are leaping and bounding forward. Awesome work!

laundrygirl said...

Ooh nice! I like how you even made it look pretty from the back!