Astrolabe pendants made for wedding at Mount Stuart

Astrolabe pendants made for wedding at Mount Stuart

I was asked to make matching pendants for a bride to give to her sister and mother and one for herself to keep. Her sister had hand drawn the invitations so I used this as my starting point.
Here’s the invite.

I wrote a few words down, inspired by the image. “we fly, surrounded by stars in rose coloured skies” I liked this because it worked any way you put the words. For example, “surrounded by stars in rose coloured skies, we fly “ or “in rose coloured skies, we fly, surrounded by stars “ It’s important if wording is put on a ring or in a circle that it works, no matter where someone starts to read it.
Around the same time as I was asked to design these pendants, I had been researching things related to stars and I had come across some images of astrolabes, which I just found so beautiful. An astrolabe is an elaborate inclinometer, historically used by astronomers, navigators and astrologers. Its many uses include locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon planets and stars, determining local time given local latitude and vice-versa, surveying, triangulation, and to cast horoscopes. The image of the building on the invite is of Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute. I had visited this building in 2008 and I knew there was a room called the Horoscope Room so I thought this would make a great starting point for a pendant design that would be a special memory of the bride’s big day. I talked this idea over with the bride and she loved it. I also showed her some images of astrolabes that I thought I would use to inspire the design.
These two were my favourite out of a few hundred that I looked at.

In order to show her what I intended to do, I first did a couple of very rough sketches to show her. She chose the second one.

I sketched out the drawing in a little more detail for her to see.

Next, the drawings were laid out in more precise detail. The different colours show the different layers that the pendant would be made up of.

The pendants were to be 35mm wide and when the drawings were scaled down it became clear that the branches were going to be too thin to work at that size. I modified that drawing and the bride approved the changes.

Here’s all the levels and layers of the pendant separately. The rings and the tree…

The stars and the birds…

Next the pendant was cut out in wax so that it could be cast in silver. Here’s a picture of the wax.

Once the pendant was made in silver an additional silver disc was made to hang behind it and it was inlaid with rose gold and set with a diamond. Then the rings were engraved with the wording that started off the design.
Here’s an image of the finished piece. This image shows the layers of the pendant too.

Here is a picture of all three pendants together.

The bride hadn’t forgotten about her husband to be and she asked us to make cufflinks like the stamp mark from the invitations.

Unknown to the bride, the groom came in and asked us to make a bracelet and earrings to match the pendants. Here’s an image of the bracelet and the earrings. The two birds are carrying a wedding ring in each beak, and there’s a little round charm engraved which matched his cufflinks (which he didn’t know about!). I made the earrings as drops, but they can also have the rose gold section removed and be worn as studs.

…and here’s how they look as studs.

This was truly an unforgettable commission and being part of it is what makes my job so special.

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