If there’s something that really characterises my making, it’s that my reach exceeds my grasp: I’m always striving to realise a new ideas that’re beyond the limits of my experience to date.
This tends to result in what, to the casual observer, might look like a trail of abandoned projects… For me though, it’s a flock of carefully tended treasures. If after throwing all available knowledge, cunning, mad ideas and R&D time at a problem I can’t find a solution, the project gets shelved. In some cases this means literally, as a labelled box of prototypes, or others might be just a few sketches tucked neatly away in my filing cabinet. Years might go by before I come back to a project, but I gather ideas like the box gathers dust, and one day I’ll find just the right one.
The Hinged Dragonfly design is the latest idea that’s come together, and I’m delighted to share it with you.
Back in 2008 I was playing with the theme of butterflies in jewellery. After making some pierced designs (positive and negative shapes cut from silver sheet), I started wondering about articulation.
Articulation… joints… hinges… hinge pins… captive hinge pins… removable hinge pins! The pendant IS the clasp! DRAGONFLIES!
After some prototyping I developed my original hinged dragonfly pendant. The chain is attached to the back of either wing. Each wing has protruding tabs which wrap around to form the knuckles of a hinge. When they are meshed together, a pin slipped through the hinge holds the two wings together. The head of the pin becomes the dragonfly’s head, the length of the ‘body’ pin ensures it can’t slip out by accident.
It was a lovely idea and I am still so, so proud of it. Alas, it was fiddly and frustrating to make, and I wasn’t keen on the abstract look.
By 2013 my saw technique had improved, and I was enjoying jewellery making even more. I designed a more realistic wing profile and created a few more dragonfly pendants, with chains, strings of stones or beads, and with beautiful cabochon gemstones set into the pin heads. I loved the addition of colour, but sawing the wings and hinges from silver sheet and bending them consistently into sheet was still too time-consuming and fiddly. The design went back on the shelf.
After that, I took my jewellery design work in other directions. I wanted to return to my roots and get sculptural, and things really changed when I started to explore wax carving.
I absolutely love wax as medium: its flexibility, its versatility, and the opportunity to replicate a design. It makes it feasible to invest 17 hours in carving a new design, as I can reproduce it and sell it for a sane amount. My Etsy store is full of jewellery designed and produced using wax carving techniques, you’ll probably see how my work has evolved with time.
Suffice to say, with all that practice: I’ve levelled up. I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience… And then when a visitor to my stall this summer said he liked my dragons but did I have any dragonflies, I knew* it was time to tackle the idea again.
It was such a fun project, and I really enjoyed the challenge of carving it. Best of all, it was a hit with the recipient!
” …just to say the necklace went down very well. Nicky says its one of the most beautiful pieces she’s seen. The movement while wearing really adds to the whole effect.”– Paul, dragonfly commissioner
I think the 11 year dormancy period paid off.
If you’re interested in buying a hinged dragonfly, please check out the listing in my shop here, which includes an animation of the hinge mechanism in action.
Next up – the making process!
*OK, full disclosure, I was in market mode and completely forgot about the hinged dragonfly concept until my partner reminded me