Last week I was asked by Mark Meier (Founder) and Bill Dehkes (Director of Operations) to design a commemorative pendant for the Face It Foundation. Their mission statement: “Through education, online tools, and peer support, Face It works with men to understand and overcome depression.”
Statistics for men with depression:
- Roughly 12% of men experience depression in their lifetimes
- Men are less likely than women to seek treatment for their depression
- Untreated depression is the primary cause of suicide
- Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death for men in the U.S.
- Unprecedented rates of suicide and depression are rising in the U.S. Military
- Today, 68 men will die by suicide, leaving behind spouses, children, friends and family
I’m honored that Face It approached me to design the pendant. My goal is to have it completed (and reproduced for retail sales) by the 2011 Bike Tour happening this May. Mark and his team, which includes his teenage daughter Anna, will be biking from coast to coast. “Along the way, the team will reach out about the impact of depression on men and those who care about them. The team will provide education on the importance of recognizing depression and addressing it with a comprehensive approach.”
Here you can see my design process…or, rather….playing with different shapes until something strikes my fancy. Copper is cheap and easier to work with during the initial phase. I’m working on a dog-tag type shape with a “rough” texture.
The texture is created by the technique of reticulation. It requires repeated steps of heating sterling silver to bring the fine silver to the surface, cooling briefly, and then pickling (soaking in a warm acid solution). Rinse and repeat…7-10 times.
You can see the unpredictable reticulation results on the oxidized piece on the right side of the “before and after” photo. But I think this texture is just what this pendant for the Face It Foundation needs! Stay tuned…I’ll update with my progress soon.
PROGRESS REPORT as of 3/25/11: Pictured below you’ll see the larger reticulated sterling sheet, cut into 2 pieces. I’ve fashioned a bail from another thinner piece (which is still oxidized from soldering the inside square edges). I haven’t decided if I want a more rectangular pendant or dog-tag size. I pierced the “it” out of another piece of plain sterling sheet, although this likely isn’t the final. And last but not least….the “FACE IT” will probably be hand stamped under the “it”, as long as it shows up during the mold and casting process. Stay tuned…you never know…the whole project could take a completely different turn!
PROGRESS REPORT 3/31/11: A closer look at possibilities. Everything is still in the rough stage…crooked edges, sharp corners and obviously not oxidized to bring out that great texture!
It’s time to meet with the great guys over at Face It to talk about the components of the pendant…what they like, what they don’t like…and what the next step will be. Stay tuned!
PROGRESS REPORT 5/7/11: DEADLINE
We’ve been working at a furious pace these past few weeks. The pendant is as complete as we can get it before the Face It crew hits the road for the Bike Tour this week. After the final design elements were ok’d I went to work on soldering all the pieces together.
Afterward a mold was made. Layers of rubber are packed into a mold frame with the model and placed in a Vulcanizer under pressure and heat for about an hour. Cutting the mold take practice and skill. I don’t profess to be an expert at mold cutting!
Cutting the Mold
When the model is finally freed from the mold you’re ready for the next step. I took the mold to a local business that can shoot the mold with wax. They made 20 wax models to start with. I don’t have photos to share of their process. But I can explain as best as possible.
10 waxes are made and then placed on a “sprue tree.” The tree is then placed in metal flask. Investment measured, mixed and poured over the wax and allowed to set up. Then the flask is placed in a kiln for the “burn out” process. What’s left is an area for the molten metal to be poured where the wax once was.
Below you’ll see the pendants on the sprue tree after the lost-wax casting process. The investment has been cleaned off and the rest of the cleanup can begin.
Each pendant is cut from the sprue tree by a jewelers saw. All rough edges are filed and smoothed out with various burs. I placed the pendants in a rock tumbler with stainless steel shot to remove any remaining investment and dirt.
Then each pendant and chain is placed into an acid solution that oxidizes the metal. Steel wool is used to remove the oxidization from the pendant to create contrast. The words on the front and back are left darkened to create impact.
The pendant and chain undergo a final cleaning and then they are ready to wear!
And last but not least…the professional image taken by Paul Najlis of Najlis Photography in Minneapolis.