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Faint - 'How much?'

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

In Welsh it's pronounced 'vynt', with a hard 'i' sound. I'm glad I heard it before seeing it written down, or I think my set connotations with the English 'faint' (quite a different feel), would have clouded things.

This word gave me very straight lines, a square edge going across and up and meeting at a corner. It gave me a very particular sensation of that corner intersection. So it was obvious to me that this would be a square piece, with something reflecting or drawing attention to that specific corner. Up and to the right! It might feel like I've simplified the process of creating this, but it was very clear from the get-go how it was going to be!

I confess I didn't even sketch this initially as the sensation was so strong, there was not going to be another shape it took, just how it 'came out'. This piece has ended up possibly being my favourite, as it is most 'me'. I like pieces that look like they've been found and have a history, and I had quite a strong military or authoritarian feel from this word, so wondered about making something that look like it might have been some kind of insignia or badge, and that it had been found in the future . A theme I do like to return to! I don't often use colour, apart from gemstones, and thought it might be good to add some to this.

2 aluminium squares with coloured pigments brushed on
Colour tests on aluminium

I initially looked at doing a piece 7cm x 7cm, but it was frustratingly too small - I wanted something heavier. I ended up using a 10 x 10cm sheet of silver 1mm thick. I wanted to draw attention to the top right, so decided I'd set a precious stone in 18ct gold tube. I soldered silver tubing to the rear, and made a double pin from stainless steel (photos of back to come).

I tried and tested various coloured patinas out, and settled on black, orange and yellow (yellow took a while as the correct strong colour had to be ordered from the US). The patinas are designed to be used on metal, and can be heat set for durability. I checked they could be scratched off, as I wanted the piece to look worn, as though it had been trampled underfoot and forgotten about and rediscovered years later. With this in mind the biggest part of creating it was to beat and wear the silver. I used a number of hammers and gravers to do this; and can recommend it as a cathartic process! The bright orange and yellow formed the meeting bands, joining at the stone. I went with a deep blue/green parti sapphire for contrast. I notched the setting randomly to suggest wear, whilst ensuring the stone would remain secure. I scrubbed the patina away roughly, and used a liver of sulphur solution to oxidise the exposed silver to age it.

I am delighted with the finished piece, it sits very happily with how the word 'faint' feels to me. This is also definitely springboarding a collection based on it. The process of making 'Faint' reminded me of my core loves for jewellery, and I think will inform my direction of work moving forward. Exciting times! It's quite a simple looking piece, but it means a lot to me. Better photos coming soon.

What does the word 'faint' feel like to you?

Finished 'Faint' brooch.  A battered, beaten, dirty silver square with coloured bands meeting in a corner, set top right with a sapphire in gold.
'Faint' brooch: sterling silver, 18ct gold, sapphire, patina, stainless steel.

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