Fly On Little Wing

Fly On Little Wing • Dendritic Opal & Sterling Silver • Photo Credit: ©Melodie Bailey 2017

I recently submitted my piece for the 2017 Polygonclub competition. I learned about the competition from a group I belong to on FB called Aspiring Metalsmiths. I have never been big on joining FB groups until recently. I have always been concerned about my privacy and opening myself up to a bunch of strangers knowing who I am. I value my privacy immensely. I decided to throw caution to the wind in favor of community and it paid off. Not only did I learn about the Polygonclub through the Aspiring Metalsmiths group, but I also gained a wealth of information, sense of community and support from the amazing people in the group. 

In June, I emailed photos of my work to the organizer of the Polygonclub competition for the initial juried phase. Most competitions and arts shows/festivals will ask that you submit photos of your work to be considered for entry. Luckily, I was accepted to compete against over 60 other artisans, mostly jewelry artisans. I was then informed that I would be sent two random polygon shaped cabochons and it was up to me to put them to work. I could use one cabochon or both.

Dendritic Opal

Dendritic Opal hand cabbed by Mark Thone


A couple weeks later I received my hand selected cabochons in the mail. Eager to get started I immediately started brainstorming designs that would showcase the gemstone. Once I was ready, I put ideas to paper, and boy did I go through a lot of paper. Idea after idea, sketch after sketch quickly scribbled down just to get the idea out. Until I finally gravitated towards the design of the bird.

I quickly set to work as I knew the design I selected would require a lot of time to fabricate. I decided to use a very old technique called Chasing and Repoussé. It is an art form that has been around for centuries and dates back to the 3rd century BC. Greek bronze armor plates utilized this technique. I selected it, because I felt it would be a challenge and that it would suit my design.

Early stage of the Chasing and Repoussé process of the Sterling Silver Bird Cuff

Early stage of the Chasing and Repoussé process.

After days of hammering away. I was finally ready to put my hammer and tools down and pick up my jeweler's saw to cut the excess sterling silver away and reveal my avian creation. It was also time to make the bezel and solder it to the piece. My dendritic opal was in need of a new home and I was aiming to give it the best home that I could. 

While I was working on my cuff for the competition my mind constantly wandered to thoughts of my 16 year old nephew that passed in 2013. Thinking of how sweet, funny, and loving he was, and how much I miss him. So for him I named this piece Fly On Little Wing. Little Wing is also one of my favorite Jimi Hendrix songs and holds a special place in my heart. 

Dendritic Opal Sterling Silver Cuff BraceletDendritic Opal Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet on WristDendritic Opal Sterling Silver Bird Cuff Bracelet Back View

Now, all that's left to do is wait. The deadline for the competition is August 15th. Whether I place or not, is beyond my power now. The most important thing to me is taking the chance and simply trying. I feel like I have already won and the prize was knowledge and peace of mind.