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Virtual Kingdom A&S 2020: Chalcedony/Striking Glass

Galen's Coronet

Let's make it three! This time for Galen, who was granted a court baronage at Winter Coronation before Their Majesties stepped down.


Design for this one was actually pretty easy; Her Majesty asked for something similar to this: 
After discussing the design a little, the initial plan was to do the base and bands at the top and bottom in nickel silver and do the spiral in brass. The dots were probably going to be done in silver also, but I mostly decided to deal with those when I got to them.

The overriding design consideration was "simple."


The coronet was laid out so there would be twelve openings in the spiral, so then the pearls could be mounted over every other circle. After figuring out the dimensions came a lot of sawing to make the braid.
As the pieces were laid out, the ends also got a bevel filed into them so it would look like the piece was passing under the middle of the next piece.

The base of the coronet was easy to cut out this time, thanks to a new toy in my shop. I picked up a bench shear to help keep my metal stock more organized (instead of cutting out small pieces out of the 6"x12" sheets Rio supplies metal in and having jagged edges everywhere). So, I could (very carefully) cut the size I need on it.
While it's not shown in that layout, the banding was offset slightly from the base seams to make aligning things easier. It also adds some extra strength to the seam, but I really wasn't concerned about that.
The solder would up being a little messy. I switched from pick soldering (cutting out small pieces of solder from a sheet and placing them with a soldering pick during heating) over to stick soldering (spool of wire solder you can feed by hand as you solder) a while ago and am still getting used to not overfeeding solder.

I did run into a design issue during soldering. The top and bottom bands moved inwards 1/32nd of an inch, making the middle 1/16th of an inch off from what I designed, throwing all the spiral angles off. I was able to resize the spiral to fit, but I had to add a thirteenth loop to the spiral. This threw off the pearl spacing a bit, but I'm pretty sure it bothered me more than anyone will notice.
Resizing the spiral also made each segment a little narrower. After consideration, the middle circles were dropped from the design over the concern it would end up looking like a bunch of eyes.
Image credit to Ayisha


This took me a lot longer than I planned. Cleanup was easy; a quick soak in super pickle to eat the copper plating off the brass and some initial sanding.
The hard part was the patina. The initial plan was to blacken the background and polish it back off so there would be shading around the spiral and bands. But after polishing, the black was not very noticeable. The unpolished black section looked OK, but it wasn't very subtle. 
This got a little more complicated when I picked the coronet up off the stool, since that changed how the light hit it. The polished sections became way too bright and the black areas looked better. Not great, but better.
This lead to a whole spree of different patina attempts to try to fix the light issue. I didn't take pictures of everything, but at one point I had a different patina/polishing combo on each segment, trying to figure out something that looked good. 

I don't remember everything I tried, but one of the finishes was carbonized wax. This is basically heating the metal slightly and rubbing a layer of wax on. The wax doesn't quite burn, but it darkens. Kind of like seasoning a cast iron pan.

Another attempt was sandblasting the background to remove the changing light issue. This wound up too white if it was left plain, and applying blackening on top of it also got rejected.
The winner would up being pumice powder. I usually use it as an abrasive for cleaning, but it also leaves a nice satin finish. The entire coronet was scrubbed with a brass brush and pumice, then the bands and spiral were polished back up for contrast. I wound up not needing to do any blackening in the background, since the finish looked good without it.
I did put velcro backed black polar fleece in for padding, but I didn't get a picture of it. I was rushing around to finish up projects before coronation.


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