The blueprint of... Dragon Chain Revisited

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By Myana
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The blueprint of... is an article serie where we’re taking a closer look on an Artisan Crafts deviation and how it's made.

Today we are dissecting Dragon Chain Revisited by StephaniePride

Dragon Chain by StephaniePride Dragon chain by StephaniePride Dragon Chain by StephaniePride

First off, please introduce yourself?

My name is Stephanie Pride and I live in Sydney, Australia. I am a thirty year old female who likes making things and learning new techniques

Please explain what we are viewing.

Dragon Chain is an entirely hand made sterling silver necklace which I made at TAFE as one of my ‘major works’ for the Jewellery Trade Certificate.
The main chain is an ancient style of chain called Egyptian Coil (although examples of this chain have been found that pre-date the ancient Egyptian culture) it is 460mm long and finished at each end in a dragons head set with marquise blue topaz eyes. Each head is 32mm long and 34mm wide at the ears. The heads are hooked onto a separate hoop of silver with an outer diameter of 30mm. The hoop is set with a 10mm x 10mm trilliant cut Blue Topaz.
This chain can also be worn with one of the heads hooked over the chain above the opposite head, which gives it a less 'formal' appearance, and ring can be completely removed and worn on a chain as a pendent or attached to a matching brooch.

Dragon Chain by StephaniePride Dragon chain by StephaniePride Dragon chain assymytry by StephaniePride
dragon hoop by StephaniePride dragon chain back by StephaniePride

Can you describe for a layman how it’s made?

I made this chain in three stages, The Heads, The Chain and The Hoop.
The heads are lost wax cast. Which means I carved them in wax, set them in plaster, melted the wax out leaving a cavity (hence the name "lost wax") which I then filled with molten metal using a centrifugal casting machine (wind it up, melt the metal, drop the pin and stand back while it spins... lots of fun! Plus there's the added suspense that you can never be quite certain how well it will work :D). Once I had the heads I cleaned them up using files, sandpaper and polishing compounds and started on the chain.

The Chain is a 'Cold Connection' chain which I chose because I felt it would make a great scaly looking 'body' for the dragon. Cold connection means that no solder is used in the construction. It looks very intricate but it's actually quite simple to make. There are some great instructions here… on how to make it if you want to give it a go.

For the hoop I rolled down some square wire to a rectangular shape, filed off the corners so that it was more oval, shaped it to a hoop and soldered it. Then I made a bezel setting for the stone and soldered it to the loop. Sanded and polished the whole thing.
Lastly I set the stones and it was all done!

Dragon Chain by StephaniePride Dragon chain by StephaniePride Dragon Chain by StephaniePride

What tools did you use?

I used wax files and small sharp blades and fine grit sandpaper for the wax. For the rest I used a whole range of tools such as jewellers saw, large and needle files, sanding and polishing drums, my trusty Dremel, wire snips, round nose pliers and flat pliers. For the hoop I used a rolling mill to flatten the wire, and a rawhide mallet to shape the metal on a mandrel, I used a gas torch for the soldering….

As I made this at Tafe I used a mixture of my own hand tools and the machinery owned by the college. However over the years I have been slowly building up my tool base. So I do now have most of the tools, gadgets and machinery in my own workshop.

What was your inspiration in creating this?

The criteria for the project was ‘Make a brooch/pendant’, the idea being that we should make a pendant that can also be worn as a brooch. For a very long time I had been wanting to make a celtic style torc with finials that resembled mythological creatures (Mythology of various cultures being a longstanding interest of mine). Most people would have looked at those two things, accepted that they didn’t overlap anywhere and designed something else, and I did try but the idea just wouldn’t leave me alone! I kept fiddling and fiddling with the concept, using up almost an entire visual diary in the process, until I finally settled on this design. The ‘brooch/pendant’ part is the Hoop, which can detach completely and be hung from another dragons head brooch. It took some very eloquent talking to get that past my teacher but I can be very stubborn sometimes ;)

Dragon Brooch by StephaniePride

How long time did it take you to make this?

We were given one semester to complete the project (along with our other work), and I actually got it done before the deadline! As for actual hours, I have no idea!

Dragon Chain by StephaniePride Dragon chain by StephaniePride Dragon Chain by StephaniePride

Did you run into anything unexpected while creating?

I had to make the heads twice. The first time I cast them the silver was riddled with porosity (bubbly holes in the metal) and I had to start again. Not such a bad thing as it gave me a chance to improve a few points.

Are you happy with the result?

Yes I was (and still am) very happy with how it turned out. I was very sad to see it go when I sold it.
However I still have every intention of making a "proper" torc one day ;)

Where have you learnt your skills in this area?

When I finished school I enrolled at TAFE to do the Advanced Diploma in Jewellery and Object Design (three years), and then I managed to talk myself onto the more skill oriented Jewellery Trade Certificate course (another three years) that jeweller apprentices are required to do, which is where I made this piece.
I also spent a year in New Zealand earning the Jade and Hardstone Carving certificate at Tai Poutini Polytechnic and I've done a whole bundle of smaller classes in various other crafts as well as teaching myself from books and tutorials. I’m a bit of a Jill-of-all-crafts and there is nothing I love more than trying new crafts and techniques :D

Dragon Chain by StephaniePride Dragon chain by StephaniePride Dragon Chain by StephaniePride

Do you take your own photos? Any tips you want to share for presenting your work?

I take all my own photos although I’m afraid I see it as a chore rather than something I enjoy so I’m not sure I’m the best person to give advice on the subject! Just make sure the object stands out well against the background (scrapbooking papers make great backdrops!). Make sure the item is in sharp focus and is well lit, and if the photos don’t come out well go back and try again! It’s a bit silly to put all that work into a piece and then record it with a few fuzzy badly lit photos!
Experiment with lighting and camera angles, and don’t expect one setup to work for everything. Overall just keep practising!

What is the best tip you can give to others wanting to test this craft/material/technique?

Be patient. It’s better to make something slowly and well than to rush it and wreck it. And overall don’t be afraid to try new techniques!

Are you selling your work?

Yes, this is how I make my living. I take commissions and I also sell my work at markets and fairs around Sydney (Paramatta Markets on Saturdays and Marrickville Markets on Sundays) plus I have an Etsy shop…

I also run an ebay shop…
where I sell Silver and Gold wire, sheet, findings and other jewellery making supplies. I have a few pieces of jewellery available there, but it’s mostly for supplies.

Hook by StephaniePride Albatross by StephaniePride Glass Dragons head with sunlight by StephaniePride Owl Pendant by StephaniePride
Butterfly Blue - ring by StephaniePride Strength by StephaniePride Blue Topaz Ring by StephaniePride Gumleaf Lamp by StephaniePride

Thank you StephaniePride for participating and taking the time to answer my question!


I'd love to recive suggestions for next "victim" to interview! Note me with a link to the deviation you'd like to know more about and I'll contact the deviant.

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InKibus's avatar
Fabulous interview, and such a gem of a piece! :love:
BrokenEver's avatar
Another GREAT pick! And her prices are so reasonable! Added her to my list of people to try to work out a commission with. Thank you, thank you, thank you. :heart:
cl2007's avatar
excellent interview :clap:
snowmask's avatar
Very, very resourceful article :)