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Virtual Kingdom A&S 2020: Chalcedony/Striking Glass

Ayisha's Coronet

Shortly after agreeing to do Konstantia's coronet, I got a Facebook message from Her Majesty asking if I could make another one for Ayisha, to be awarded at Kris Kinder. Naturally, I went straight into research mode to try to figure out what the design I should look like. Then I remembered to go actually say yes.


Now, the theory was I would have a better idea of what Ayisha would like, design wise (which I hope is true). The only problem with this is she doesn't talk about what exactly her persona is much. My main pieces of information came from when I tried to help with her device and the supporting documentation I grabbed from OSCAR. So, I took the approach of looking at her court garb and trying to match it up to Persian art to reverse engineer her time period.

What I came up with as my primary reference was this piece from The Met: It is supposed to be depicting the late period of the Sasanian empire, which would have been around 600 AD. The "coronet" worn by Shirin in that drawing was made up of pentagons with a square base and a pointed top. Trying to mentally extend it around, I guessed there were about 12 panels. There also appeared to be some sort of detailing on the coronet as well, but there's only so much detail.

A similar style of crown appeared in an Islamic illustration ( with stonework and minor detailing around the edges. Now, the similar types of crown could be explained by both those pieces having the same calligrapher involved, but the style was able to be adapted to the requirements of a court baronage easily, so I went with it.

Of course, when I was asked to do this, I was coming off designing Byzantine bling. Just doing a pointed coronet with a few stones and calling it a day felt too lazy. I wound up designing a starry arabesque to surround the central cabochons as a callback to the eight pointed mullets on Ayisha's device. The concept I sent off to HRM for approval was this:
While I liked trying to keep the stars in the border mostly in tact, it looked kinda off having the double wide border. I also happened to design the pattern exactly at 2.5", which is the max for a baronial coronet. This means when I added the border in, it was slightly too big. Because arabesques are very geometric, just shrinking the height wouldn't work, because then all the angles are wrong. So, I shrank the overall design into individual panels. That way, the borders also got split up, avoiding the odd double wide look.

Stone Work

When I was working on Konstantia's coronet, I ordered in a bit more labradorite to supplement what I had on hand. I wound up talking to the seller, and he mentioned he got some really nice lapis in. I completely agree.

Not too much to really talk about here. It got slabbed out:
And cabbed.
I made two spares, partly in case something went wrong during the process, and I had another project in mind for the spares if they came out. I went and showed off the two spares to Ayisha under the pretext of making them for the other project. I should probably stop doing that though. I'm going to get a reputation that if I'm showing you cabochons, you're probably getting a coronet.

Metal Work


So, I had the arabesque pattern, but I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it or how to apply it yet. My first plan was etching, and instead of using thick lines, having some sections polished while some were etched and blackened. That test came out like this:
Which wasn't bad, but I didn't like how some of the sections in the middle merged into the bordering. So, I tried lines.
I decided that the lines needed to be a little thicker than that, and I also realized how much of a pain it was going to be to apply resist to a 24" x 2.5" area of metal. When I did etching in college, it was on pieces the size of a ring, where it's far easier to get a consistent application with toner transfer paper.

Which lead to embossing the pattern using a rolling mill. I'd been eyeing one for a while, and it was one of the last tools I had access to in college I didn't have in my workshop yet, so this seemed like a good excuse.

Those tests were a lot more promising.
Downside of the roller mill is that it lengthens the metal slightly, so I wound up running a bunch of tests to make sure I would end up with the correct length of printed metal for the coronet while still getting a good imprint on the metal.


First pass, I tried doing it in two pieces, six panels per piece. However, this got messed up going through the rolling mill. To do the embossing, there was the card stock design on the metal, then the whole thing was sandwiched between two pieces of card stock to help push the metal and create a deeper design. These strips were around 11.5" long, so it doesn't quite fit on an 8.5" x 11" piece of card stock. I tried taping some card stock together, but it got pulled apart going through the mill.
Could make a good set of metal teeth...
So, I had to do it in more pieces. I could have done three panels, four points per panel, but I only had one sheet of nickel silver left and the only way I could lay it out was as two four-pointers and two two-pointers.
The design is slightly scrunched width wise to account for flattening as it goes through the mill.
That worked out, so then came soldering all the panels together.
I learned from last time I don't like the look of the stamped bezel cups, so I put my own bezels together this time.
After the bezels were soldered on and a quick soak in super pickle to remove some copper staining, I popped in one of the cabs for a minute to see how it was coming together.
At this point, I painted on an oxidizer to patina the patterned areas black, then buffed with a tripoli compound to remove the excess blackening and polished.
Then set the stones, add a layer of paste wax, add the padding, and done..

Wrap up

In retrospect, having recessed patterns that close to solder joints was not the best idea. Polishing around the settings would have been better done using a flex shaft rather than a large felt wheel, since turning the piece at the angle needed to get up against the bezel lead to polishing off a bit of the patina in the patterning.

On the brighter side, taking the lesson from the last coronet, making my own bezels looks much cleaner than the bezel cups. The roller mill printing came out well, despite not having used that technique since college. The quality of the lapis cabs was much better than I expected.

Overall, I'm happy with it, but I also see ways to do it better next time. Which is the best kind of project.

Addendum: And it fits! Since Ayisha was using all the tricks to get Konstantia's head measurements, I couldn't use the same tricks to get hers. She put on the other coronet briefly, so I tried to guess measurements based off how that one sat. And it worked!


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