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T-Rex Skull
29 Sep, 2018

Everyone has a moment when they hit a ‘wall’.

It can be whilst running – something that has never happened to me, if I were running it would be due to something chasing me.

It can be when your imagination decides that you need a break.

This is what happened to me.

I didn’t know what to make, my inspiration got up and left. I wasn’t making anything, not at home or at the jewellery workshop I attend.

I have been going to this workshop for nearly 5 years and it was the first time I decided that I needed a break. There were times I went with nothing in mind to make but I usually came home with something.

It was starting to become difficult to get an idea of something to create.

So a break it was.

The break began in February and I didn’t go back until June.

Why did I go back?

I went to see the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

This franchise has been a love of mine since childhood and one of the few films I was wanting to see this year (2018).

The film was great, to me a perfect summer blockbuster with a great ethic undertone to the story. Plus it had dinosaurs – never mind Chris Pratt – the film had dinosaurs in it!!!

It was while the film was coming to a close that inspiration hit me.

I now know what I can make at the jewellery workshop.

A sterling silver sheet cut out of a T-Rex skull.

How cool would that be?

So about a week later, I went back to my jewellery workshop to make a start on this skull.

First of all, I needed an outline of a T-Rex skull.

Here’s a tip for any of you creative minds out there, some of you may already do this, but some of my fellow workshoppers were quite impressed as to how I got such an outline of the skull:

  • Masking tape

  • Pen/pencil

  • Smartphone

  • Find your desired picture – preferably a black and white outline

  • Place masking tape over the desired picture

  • Gently and carefully, trace over on the masking tape your image

  • Ta-da, I got an outline of a dino skull

I had to use double the width of standard masking tape to get the image to fit and curse my phone whilst tracing, due to the phone thinking I wanted the image bigger or some other stupid thing.

Plus your phone screen is also a good indicator as to how big you want your item to be. I have a Huawei phone and kept the screen in portrait to give a skull that was 6cm long and 4cm wide.

Hmmm, might try it again but landscape….. I could to a Triceratops skull, that would be awesome!!!

T-Rex skull Ema, that’s what your blogging on about. T-Rex.

So, with tracing the image onto masking tape, it’s easy to then stick that onto the similar sized silver sheet. My tutor at the workshop had a piece of silver which took me a while to move the image about so that it would fit and I wouldn’t be wasting a lot of silver (it’s expensive stuff y’know).

Then. Cutting it out.

It’s always best to start from the outside and work your way in.

She says.

Cutting the teeth out was a pain. A real pain. As you want to keep the shape and lets be honest that is one of the amazing things about this dinosaur – it’s teeth. I managed it.

Cutting the parts of the skull out that indicated soft tissue – so the eye socket, etc was a bit better.

In order to cut these bits out, I drilled a hole in the silver. Got my saw and threaded the blade through the hole to cut it out.

By this time, my arm, hand and fingers were beginning to ache.

And I was getting covered in silver dust.

I made 9 holes and saw 9 tricky holes out.

By this time, the workshop was drawing to a close. It starts at 6:30pm and finishes around 9pm, some people stay later to finish their work. I find a natural pause. Which was that my skull was cut out.

Next workshop session was sorted.

What needed doing next was filing the edges, smoothing them off and making sure that the teeth wasn’t going to damage anyone.

At this point I wasn’t sure what it would be: a pendant? Or maybe a display piece?

With all the cutting from the previous session, there were rough edges and the silver had become scratched.

The next stage in silver smithing is a term we call emerying. Or sanding, filing. Making a rough surface smooth.

My arm ached, my hand ached – from the emerying. My fingers ached – from the way I was holding the skull and the emery paper leaves a thin layer of black dust on your fingers. So I was getting in need of a shower, well as wash anyway – I have a habit of when I am working on something to do with creativity I get mucky. Mum always knew when I did art at school; I would come home with paint either on my hands or face. Sometimes both.

The dust on my fingers were being transferred onto my face. If I had an itch, I would scratch it. My tutor and other workshoppers don’t bother telling me now that I have black emery dust marks on my face.

It washes off, so I don’t see the problem.

Emerying silver does take a while but you reap the benefits at the end. A smooth surface that shines, even more so when it’s polished.

I don’t use the polish machines or the tumbler polisher at the workshop. I use a nail file from M&S. One side is similar to emery paper, whilst the other polishes the silver. I’ve been using this technique probably 6 months into starting my jewellery making and not looked back since. I do use the other polishers but it depends on what I am making.

So that’s how I made the T-Rex skull. It took me two jewellery workshop sessions, a total of 5 hours and I decided that it wouldn’t be a piece of jewellery but a display piece.

In other words I couldn’t be bothered to faff and try to make it into a pendant.

I bought a small deep/shadow box frame and glued some Amber chip beads into the bottom left hand corner. For the Jurassic Park/World vibe.

To begin with, I glued the skull onto a piece of black felt, but stuck that onto some red and then stuck Amber chip beads on to the red felt.

It didn’t work. The Amber ‘got lost’ (you couldn’t see them) on the red felt. So I cut the red off and re-stuck the black felt onto some white card and voila!

I shared the images on my social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) to show the process of making the skull. On Instagram, I even tagged the stars of Jurassic World (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt) just to show how their film inspired me to make this piece. They must get tagged in so much stuff on social media but it would have been nice to have a little acknowledgement of possibly something different that they are usually tagged in. A like maybe.

To be honest, I knew it would be a long shot that they would respond – I didn’t think they would anyway.

It’s pride of place on a shelf in my bedroom, right opposite my window, so the sun shines on it.

I entered my design into the Cookson Gold Design of the Week competition. It took a few months before I decided to enter it, but I did. My design has just as good a winner as all the other entries.

Mind, why enter a competition if you don’t want to win?

Update: I don’t think I won the £100 spending spree 🙁 Never mind, I can always enter with another design!!