I was reviewing my collection of jewelry pictures this morning and came upon this one:
A friend of mine asked me if I could make a necklace with this bear claw for his son. I immediately agreed to, but didn’t realize what a challenge it would be. As he handed me the claw, he told me that bear claws are considered to be one of the most sacred items in the Indian world. I then learned that bear claw necklaces are thought to contain spiritual power, providing protection and good health. I was honored to have this opportunity to make something with such incredible meaning and symbolization.
I did some online research to see what types of designs are typically used to encase bear claws. Most of them were well above my skill level, so I set it aside for about a week until I figured out what I could do with it.
I am a novice with the soldering iron, but this was clearly a design that called for one. I cut a strip from a sheet of 36 gauge copper metal and folded it in half to make it more sturdy.
I then hammered out a short piece of 14 gauge copper wire to make a loop on top of the claw.
Putting the claw and copper together, well that was the ultimate challenge. I wrapped the top of the claw with the copper strip and placed the wire between the copper sheet and claw. Although I had helping hands to place the claw and copper in, getting it in the right position for soldering seemed impossible. It all came together, somehow, and I was able to solder the copper without damaging the claw.
I applied liver of sulfur to darken the copper. With a pair of needle nose pliers, I made ridges in the base of metal so it could be pressed snugly against the claw.
To complete the necklace, I added copper crimps and a clasp to a 20 inch thick piece of leather. I didn’t want it to be too long. As it turned out, it fit his son’s neck perfectly!
I was happy to make this necklace, but also relieved when I finished it. Could you imagine if I had damaged the bear claw? Thank goodness that didn’t happen!
What types of challenges have you had when making jewelry?