Monday, July 29, 2013

Keep Silence, a Work In Progress

I had this lovely old pocket watch case with no crown stem or stop watch button, and, worse yet, no crystal to cover that enticing interior space, and no back, either.  Only the case. Just the job for some jeweler's resin. So the project began last summer, during a very warm spell, which is a good time for resin pours. I'm so tickled: I was able to get a lens built in situ. It took three separate pours, the first with plastic wrap taped over the opening, the second a layer behind that, and the last over the first layer and domed. The secret to getting a dome is to let the resin batch cure to the point that it is viscuous enough to run very slowly and make a rounded edge where it spreads.

Well, that much worked out and the project sat for a year, ripening in my mind. I wanted to make a reliquary, and needed to collect just the right small cool things and achieve the right state of mind to build the interior. Originally, I was thinking a solid mass of resin, but last week, when I picked it up again, I saw how much more enticing it was to have a sealed-off hollow place, encapsulated, for holding the objects inside. Then a barnacled fragment of moon snail shell popped out at me from the window sill above my work bench. This got combined with an illustration of sea algae, steel engraved, from my antique Wilson's Reader Fifth Edition, 1861, which also yieled the scrap of text that became the title. The back got papered over with text from another antique, a biography of Cowper, soaked with resins, Keith LoBue style. And I found just the right size of verdigris encrusted rhinestone in a scrap of old earring to fit inside one of the barnacles. It just fell together in a couple of days after a year of ripening. The domed lens acts like a magnifying glass and makes for interesting distortions as you change viewpoints. The text "keep silence and if" swirls around just on the edge of legibility.

Next was the issue of missing bail. It used to have one clamped into a channel under the missing crown stem, and wonder of wonders, I had some stock of brass rod just exactly the right size to slip into that channel. All that remained was to fabricate a bail of rebar tie wire, drill and ream to fit, and hold my mouth right while I hammered the rivet heads to hold it in place. It worked!

Now the problem is the chain. I was going to cobble one from chain scraps, but it doesn't look right, so I guess I'll be making chain the rest of the week, with an eye to pictures of antique watch chains and fobs, only where they are about 12 inches long, I'll be looking for 20.

Stay tuned!


  1. i love how it came out! it's so magical!

  2. What a wonderful piece! Love the way you've woven the story about it's creation into an enchanting travel through time.

  3. What a beautiful piece! It's interesting how things just come together when the time and circumstances are right. A life lesson in here somewhere.
    Thanks for sharing the journey.