And here’s how it all came together:
After spending about a week communing with Lola’s teeth and my bead boxes, I decided to make a sort of harness out of sterling wire that would cradle the teeth securely, but wouldn’t change their structural integrity at all. I played around with shapes and wound up with this:
This is basically the same as the vintage lampwork glass leaves and flowers that I love so much – tooth flowers. When I had the final versions all wired up and ready to use, I put them in a tiny vase for pictures. This is my favorite photograph that I took during the entire project:
For the final earring design, I wanted to do something that definitely looked like my work. Since my work lately focuses heavily on asymmetry, I opted to make a mismatched pair of earrings but kept them a bit shorter than the crazy long asymmetrical pairs I’ve designed in recent months. The beads I chose are classic and elegant – some of the rarest and oldest things in my collection – but have a decidedly Gothic flavor when assembled with dark metals (and teeth).
Here is the end result, the Love Bites earrings:
And a little chart of the pieces I used to make them:
I’m really pleased with the way they turned out. It was a pleasure to make something special for someone whose joy, generous spirit and hard work (really, crazy hard work – I secretly suspect her of having bargained for extra hours in the day) I admire so much. Thanks for the teeth, Lorraine! I loved having them in my company, and they’ll be on their way back to you soon. I hope you love them!
Here’s what happened next:
I freaked out a little bit. I mean, I got the shouty spinnies. “You got me Neil Gaiman‘s dog’s teeth to make earrings with? For the Fabulous Lorraine to actually wear?! This is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me!” (My strict grammar training deserts me in high-tension situations.) And then I did a Cordelia: “Excuse me. I have to call everyone I have ever met, right now.”
When I calmed down, I started to freak out in a quieter, more worrisome way. It’s a fun and amazing prospect to think of making earrings with something really special for someone you don’t know but really admire, but then it hit me that I’d be using unique, irreplaceable, very very sentimental materials. The baby teeth of someone’s beloved pet – it doesn’t matter whose pet it is, that’s a very special thing to do. (Weird, I know, Dad – just try to be happy for me…) I want to make something lovely and lasting and unique, that she’ll love but that also looks like I definitely made it. So I got to continue with that quiet, daunting freakout while I waited for the teeth to arrive, all the while debating what to do with them.
My first thought was to set them in silver (with help from some metalsmithing friends) and do something simple but striking. Then they arrived, though, and I saw immediately that wasn’t going to work. Here are Lola’s elegant and dainty teeth:
They’re about a half inch long and a little less than a half inch high at the tallest point, and they’re very, very thin. I was sure that doing any metalwork with them would dry them to the point of making them brittle, and might actually crack them. Drilling them for hanging was also obviously out of the question. I spent the next week staring at them and taking some pictures, while I debated how I might use them and what beads I’d like to use.
Tune in tomorrow for the results.