The following sequence shows the basic process of how this specific shell mosaic pendant was made. I use this process in all of my jewelry, with variations that are dependent upon that individual piece.
The inspiration for this pendant comes from these shell mosaics that are ancestral in time and origins. These are constructed a bit different than my interpretation but each one, modern and ancient, hold metaphors of sky, water and silent prayers for their wearer.
I usually start by sketching the basic idea of what the piece should look like.
After this step I move onto cutting and shaping the shell back piece. For this I use a combination of a Dremel hand-held, small files and sandpaper.
I will also cut and shape the various mosaic inlay pieces. These are cut from larger slabs on a trim saw and shaped with the Dremel and sandpaper.
Next I’ll figure out the mosaic layout and position the inlay pieces.
I set my mosaics in a 2-part epoxy that sets in about 5 minutes so I have to move efficiently and quickly. It’s a bit messy, but will clean up nicely.
While the epoxy sets, I work on shaping and polishing the turquoise nuggets that I will use in the accompanying necklace. In this case I used #8 (Number 8) Turquoise. I first rough shape the nuggets on a bench grinder then hand shape and polish with sandpaper, rough grit to finer grit. I drill each with a hole and then I polish each nugget with Zam, which is a compound great for turquoise and other softer stone.
When the epoxy has set, usually after a full 24 hours, I use a circular wire brush on my Dremel on low speed to clean off the excess epoxy and between the mosaic inlay.
Once the pendant is all cleaned up, I will sandpaper the mosaic inlay pieces from rough to finer grit. I finish with Zam polishing compound. I will then work on the pendant so it can be attached to the necklace. This involves a bit of wire work and sometimes other hardware.
The necklace is assembled with shell heishi that I purchase separately specific for this purpose. The necklace usually gets a 3″ chain on each end, depending on the desired length and is finished with clasps. All components are assembled and the necklace is ready to wear.
From start to finish, the process took approximately 4 days to complete, including cutting, shaping and polishing all turquoise and shell materials.
So far I’ve only made 2 of these types of pendants. I usually move onto other styles but will make these again at some point in the future.