Tuesday, May 20, 2014

a tale of two pendants

So this is what I made in week two of Me Made May...

...a silver vegtan leather tangram pendant.
completed My 12th.

For this year's Me Made May pledge, I wanted to focus on making things using my leather stash. I also wanted to experiment a bit and use the materials in interesting ways which is why I spent MMM week 2 having a play around with making a necklace.

This is one of those cases where I set out with an idea in my mind of what I wanted to make and ended up with something completely different. Originally, I had set aside some lovely muted bronzy leather with the idea of making a sort of roman headdress-esque laurel wreath necklace but the more I played with it, the less I liked it. 

While I was wondering what to do next, I remembered I still had some of the silver vegtan leather I used for my tessellated leather fabric for my installation in Window 135. Vegetable tanned (vegtan) leather goes through a different tanning process to the kind of leather that is used in clothing, shoe uppers, etc. It is more rigid and is therefore used for leather soles as well as belts and saddlery among other things. I knew that if I used vegtan, the pendant would hold its shape well (as my previous experiments with the laurel-style necklace had been a bit floppy) although using a rigid silver leather took me away from the organic flowy look I had been going for and into a more hard edged geometric style. 

Enter the tangram. We played with this puzzle at school when I was a kid. I liked the idea that from one set of shapes, a vast number of designs and silhouettes could be made. I think it's a good analogy for crafting - you start off with a fairly basic material be it leather, fabric, clay etc, and yet the possibilities for what that material can become are seemingly endless.

I drew up a template and used it to cut my design in leather. I had thought about staining the edges of the pendant black to make the silver pop even more, but I preferred to keep them natural to show off that it was in fact made of leather. I finished the edges using gum tragacanth to make them smooth, added a jump ring and a fine chain which was in my stash (and luckily happened to be just the right length), put it on and admired my handiwork, and wore it out to Mr B's birthday lunch.

It was only when I sat down to blog about it last week that I realised my mistake... that big triangle should be two smaller ones! Haha! I even looked up the tangram design while I was drawing my template and *still* managed to get it wrong!

So here's version two!...

(amended) silver vegtan leather tangram pendant 
completed May 16th

raw edges finished off with gum tragacanth

Problem: crumpled top. 
Solution: get the iron out distract everyone with a big shiny pendant!

Of course I could have continued to wear the original pendant, I had enjoyed wearing it on its inaugural outing, but once I realised my mistake, all I could look at was the space in the middle of the triangle that should have had a line through it! And who wants to be be wandering along merrily only to have passersby whispering behind their hands "tsk, her tangram is wrong!"  Not I.


  1. Love it! I actually love the original (incorrect) tangram the most - even though it's missing a line, the balance and weight of it is lovely. I guess it's not a tangram, just a really cool geometric design. ;) I think your MMM-pledge is a great one, with using up materials you have a lot of. And so fun to see someone work so successfully in materials I know so little about. Anyways, cool!

    1. Thanks Birgitte!
      Yeah, I didn't have a problem with the design of the original one until I realised it was "wrong". I still like it though. I'll probably end up wearing it anyway!