My lovely friend Gretchen is the director of the Nature Center of Cape May where you all know I love to visit and donate to because their programs are the best! She has commissioned a few fantastic pieces from me, and this one might be my favorite but what a challenge it was!
Gretchen and her husband Mark frequently visit the Azores - which are a little volcanic cluster of islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but closest to Portugal. She brought me back the largest limpet shells I have ever seen to work into a custom piece! In the Azores they eat limpets like clams, raw, grilled and fried. I hope to visit there someday.
After a few tests of the integrity and strength of these gorgeous shells, I got to work drawing. Gretchen wanted to wear the shell inside - out, so the pearlescent inside would be seen. This created the challenge, as the hump of the shell would cause it to lay awkward with a traditional setting and bail. I sketched and worked on a few mock ups - and sketched some more. It was nearly a year and a few remakes before I finally got it right.
The shell was scrubbed and cleaned so the algae and limestone growth wouldn't wear poorly, then the shell was given a light buff and shine. After it was fully dried I coated a few layers of acrylic lacquer to give it just a bit more strength.
The wavy base of the setting was hand cut from a sheet of thick sterling, and prongs were laid out in the most protective and symmetrical way I could within its natural crevasses.The ball ended prongs help to not catch on her clothing at the base of the limpet. The handmade bail is set back a bit to allow the whole pendant to lay more vertically and it is strung on a wavy omega that matches perfectly.
"So happy with my stunning custom piece from @hkm_jewelry. This limpet shell is from a favorite place, Sao Miguel Island in the Azores. Thank you so much, Hali. Your artistry is unsurpassed" - Gretchen