Celebrate the local Jurassic Coast with a silver keepsake

My family and I are so lucky to be living near the Dorset coastline, renown for its Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural World Heritage Site.  It covers 95 miles of truly stunning coastline from East Devon to Dorset, with rocks recording 185 million years of the Earth’s history.

There are a number of wonderful events happening this Easter along the Coastline, notably a series of guided Fossil Walks with a local geologist and marine biologist.

On a walk similar to this last year, a local gentleman was lucky enough to find a tiny ammonite fossil and passed it to me at a mineral fair. This proved inspiration enough to create my Ammonite range.   The result is a range beautifully delicate sterling silver ammonites that I have applied to earrings, bangles and pendants.    I have found that these make beautiful presents for visitors and guests as holiday reminders, but I have had customers buy them to send to their family members to remind them of home.  These can be purchased from my website www.kathrynarbonjewellery.co.uk or my Gatehouse Studio at Walford Mill Crafts.

The process to make these beautiful shapes started with making a mould of the fossil and the silver pieces were cast using the ‘lost wax process’.

The lost wax process involves making a model in wax of the piece you wish to obtain in metal, which can be bronze, silver, or gold.

The wax model is attached to a wax ‘tree’ by a wax sprue, which is then fitted into the central hole of a round rubber base.  This is then fitted into a metal cylinder.  The cylinder is filled with a liquid plaster that is placed into a vacuum chamber to remove air bubbles.  When the air is removed, the plaster sets.  The next step is for the wax to be burnt out in a kiln, leaving the negative space where the wax used to be.  The cylinder is then placed in a centrifugal casting machine.  Molten silver is poured into a crucible and spun into the cylinder at high speed, filling the negative space in the plaster.  The plaster is then cleaned off revealing the now metal ‘tree’ of desired jewellery pieces.  Each piece is then filed, cleaned and polished to finish.

Have a look at the pieces and let me know what you have found on the beach or on a walk and what you have done with them!

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