Which came first, the lily pod or the Septarian Nodule? In the order of creation, clearly it was the nodule. In the order of acquisition, it was the lily pod. The question could be raised with respect to either one: why?! The lily pod is quite long (5") and does not have a hole through its length, making it a challenge to use. However, it is a fascinating and beautiful object cast from life so I wanted to find a way to make a necklace out of it. It would have made a lovely if somewhat long pendant and already had an attachment at the top, but using it as a pendant seemed a little predictable, don't you think?
Do you know how pieces like the lily pod are cast in the small studio? The dried lily pod was modified slightly to make a loop at the top, most likely with carving wax. Wax sprues were attached to make channels in the mold through which the molten bronze could be poured. After debubbleizing, the assemblage was suspended in a flask and a material known as investment, a thick plaster-of-paris like material which can withstand the heat of molten metal was poured in. It surrounds the object, picks up all of its fine detail and makes a perfect mold as it dries. The wet investment is often shaken on a shaker table and/or placed under vacuum to pull as many bubbles out of it as possible before it dries. Once set, if a regular wax model has been used, the flask is placed in a burn-out oven (kiln) so the wax can melt/burn out. Since this was a woody pod it burned, leaving ash. So after the smoke cleared, Gail had to pull the hot flask out of the kiln and gently tap the burned ash out of it, much more tricky than it sounds! The flask was then raised to a casting temperature suitable for the bronze. Finally the bronze is melted, the flask is put into a centrifugal or vacuum casting machine, and the molten metal is poured. Unless she has a very expensive thermostatically controlled melt furnace which many of us do not have, she must rely on art and experience to know when to pour, else the casting and the mold will be ruined. If a centrifugal casting system is used, she must quickly pull the stop on the machine so that it spins rapidly and centrifugal force hurls the hot metal into the mold. Finally the hot flask is dropped into a bucket of water (yes, water and steam explode out of the bucket, it's messy!) and usually the mold splits apart from thermal shock and the beautiful casting is revealed.
To get back to the necklace, putting together a pleasing collection of disparate objects that work happily together can be a challenge, but various objects in my stash started their "Use me!" chants and this assemblage seemed to fall into place neatly (after an approximately 2 year wait), with Karen's glass bead bringing together the colors of the nodule, the bronze, the Kyanite and the Apatite crystals. All that remained was to figure out how to put it together. I made a hollow beaded "stem" along the underside of the pod to carry the cables the necklace is constructed on. The end slice of the Septarian Nodule is captured in a beaded bezel to form the pendant, open in the back so you can see the nodule's skin.
The apatite crystals in this piece are an unusual yellow-green color which seem to fall between green apatite (a water and earth element which Simmons says is a wonderful tonic for frayed nerves and stress) and golden apatite (a fire element which Ahsian says lends a sunny energy to one's aura). From the scientific side, apatites are increasingly used in biomaterials, nanocrystalline apatites are involved in the preparation of tissue-engineered biomaterials, cements, ceramics, composites and coatings on metal prostheses according to Eichert, et. al. (below). My scepticism about modern medicine is showing when I ask what could possibly go wrong with this supposed improvement of the biological activity and performance of bone due to the enhanced and tunable reactivity of synthetic nanocrystalline apatites? Apparently there is also research into using apatite for "remediation" of uranium. Our poor mother earth.
Judy Hall says Orange Kyanite "looks like crystallized sunshine and fizzes with energy." I'd have to agree with her on that! She says it puts one in touch with the manifestation forces of the universe.
Septarian nodules are fascinating concretions which aren't well understood and you will find conflicting explanations of how they formed on the 'net. The various articles can't even agree on the derivation of "septarian." According to Wiki, the nodules are named for the "septaria" or the (filled) cracks within the stones. They formed between 50 to 70 million years ago, and Wiki says some like the Moeraki Boulders reach 9' in diameter. The nodule in this piece is highly unusual, when you look at the back of the one that is set in silver, you will see the dark matrix with whitish cracks typical of the Moroccan Septarians, much like the stone in my Tree of Life necklace here. Yet somehow, within the approximately 4mm thickness of the stone it changes completely to the beautifully colored but softer surface you see in the photo with its rusty peach and subtle blues. Hall mentions Septarians are useful in EFT and other meridian-based techniques. (If you've never tried the Emotional Freedom Technique, let me point out it is very easy to learn, simple and non-threatening to practice, and may astonish you! "Try it on everything" they say.)
I hope you will enjoy this fizzy and intriguing piece!