Last summer, I worked for several weeks on a pendant project for an upcoming issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. I picked the stone because it was my first Tucson Show purchase ever. While the overall design was simple, once I started, it was more difficult than it should have been to create such a straight-forward pendant project.

Much like my Winter Sparkle Necklace project, I wanted to share a bit about this published project. Below is my original intro for this pendant project. If you would like to read my published article and learn about the materials and steps you’ll need to create this pendant at home, you can find the full article in the May/June 2020 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine.

First Tucson Pendant Project

This beautiful Mookaite stone was part of the first purchase I ever made at the Tucson Shows. I got this stone, and a second mookaite stone that was more a-symmetrical, from The Barlows at the InSuites show, and I happened to be with Merle White when I made this purchase.

I’ll never quite forget that day. It was the first time meeting Merle in person, after working with her for over a year and becoming friends in our own right, and I figured there was no better person to show me the Tucson Shows than her. I was certainly right; Merle knew all the shows and how to get around. Merle also has more energy than me and could have continued going to shows well after the point that I told her we needed to call it a day. We saw 13 different shows that day.

Everything that could go wrong with this pendant, did. We’re talking cutting the bezel wire too short, filing the bezel down so it wasn’t lying flat on my metal to solder, soldering multiple times because my solder didn’t want to flow, bezel wire not laying flat because it’s too tall (despite all the sanding), wrong.

When I called Merle and told her about the silly mistakes I was making (I believe I actually described them as beginner mistakes despite knowing better) I asked her what I had been asking myself in the furthest reaches of my mind during the whole process: how could I compare to many of the artists you see in the pages of the magazine, the Lexi Erickson, Bill Fretz, and John Heusler.

Merle reminded me of something very important that day. Many of these artists you see on these pages were beginners once. All metalsmiths, no matter how advanced into their career, start as beginners. With a lot of practice and time, they grow their skills. So even I, beginner Ashley, am welcome in these pages.

If for nothing else, let my story remind you that you will make mistakes. Your solder won’t flow, you’ll cut your bezel wire too short, or you will make a decision that seems right at the time and leaves you scratching your head later wondering why. Through it all, learn and advance. And give yourself the forgiveness to learn as you create.

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