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I am entering a contest on Deviant Art entitled the Four Elements. I have submitted one entry so far, but four are permitted, so I have several sketched ideas.

Sketched pendant idea

This one looked simple: four tiles with different surface patterns, nice and flush in a plain setting so as not to distract from the elemental colours and pattens.

Bish bash bosh, that means three different designs of mokume gane, and a mica shift pattern for air. Naturally I made a few of each type of tile so that I would have a selection to choose from. This ended up to be 26 tiles.

component tiles

All the component tiles

Tiles joined but not sanded

Tiles joined together with scrap clay before the edges are sanded square.

After sanding all the tiles individually (now my hand aches), I put them face down with a backing of scrap clay to join them together. Then more sanding to square the edges and ensure the face is smooth. Then backfill the gaps, bake, sand *again*.

Unfortunately the tiles I tried to join seamlessly slipped apart (possibly when I was squishing the scrap clay onto the back). I tried filling the gaps with matching clay but it was not very successful. Perhaps it would work better joining these before the tiles were baked, or putting them onto the scrap before turning it face down. If I find a better method I will post it.

gaps filled to match

Gaps between the tiles unsuccessfully filled with matching clay

And now to bring it all together by setting it into a pendant…

pendant with wrought iron setting

Wrought Iron Elemental Pendant by Cate van Alphen

Hang on! This looks like something the 80s fashion police confiscated and the wicked witch decorated with liquorice. The whole bake, sand, bake, sand, sand, sand process had taken so long, I had forgotten the “simple setting” part of the idea. Lucky I made spares.

lacquered pendant

Lacquered Elemental Pendant by Cate van Alphen

I am tolerably happy with this pendant, although I wonder if the ‘fire’ tile would stand out better if the setting was silver clay rather than gold. However since red pops anyway and there was already gold in the earth and fire tiles maybe this is more harmonious?

Luckily real life does not have an undo button, otherwise I’d still be working on this. I have a string of ideas backing up and some of them are starting to honk their horns. Sometimes I have to remind myself to just accept ‘good enough’ and move on. Plus I can’t stand any more sanding!