... A monkey nut? - Really?... Well you see, he's called Nutty - and she wanted to get him something nice... Come on people keep up!
Initially Lesley emailed asking if I could make her a solid monkey nut with an inscription on it; my interest was perked right from the get go, ... In fact I thought why stop there? I love over complicating this kind of thing- so...
...I suggested going for a hinged nut with inscribed peanuts inside it... a bit more special - much more challenging.
...So, moments later I had bought a bag of nuts, lined up a few interesting candidates and using the wonders of the interweb (emailed pics) - Lesley picked one.
Excellent choice by the way! =
This was a good nut - nice and plump, decent symmetry and good curves. Lesley wanted to use one that looked like a willy ....I talked her out of it ;)
Then came getting into it without destroying it or the peanuts inside it...
Once in, some reinforcement was required; melting a layer of jewellers wax inside the fragile shell was hopefully going to be enough to take the pressure of pushing the shell pieces into the clay to make the mould.
This is the wax going in, to get the detail of the shell requires far more force than the shell could take on its own - without being reinforced the shell would be crushed to dust!
I ate SO many nuts whilst making this, its ok though - I didn't turn into one...
I use Delft clay to make the mould that the molten silver will be poured into. Four separate casts had to be done; the two shell halves and the two peanuts.
The little channels leading to holes in the clay are to allow the air to escape as the silver rushes in...
Shell done, its starting to look the part already, I was really pleased how much detail was retained in the casting process.
Now for the peanuts... in this next picture you can see the silver has flowed down and then split into left and right channels, completely filled the imprint of the peanuts and then tried to escape via the air vents (little nipples on the top), this process of pouring molten silver to setting hard in the cast lasts about a second.
I used the actual peanuts from the monkey nut of course, otherwise they might not fit. The two halves of the peanuts had to be glued together to reinforce them so they didn't come apart when pushed into the clay...
... I can't think of any situation where one wouldn't benefit from having reinforced nuts...
15 to 20 hours were spent on hollowing out the shell sections with a 5mm ball burr - basically all material added to the shell to strengthen the mould had to be removed from the silver cast so the peanuts would fit snugly inside.
Then the hinge... my first hinge! Very stressful this bit, I must have spent 4 or 5 hours just preparing this for soldering. Its an awkward shape - and it has to close perfectly; A lot of the quality and effort can be thrown away getting this wrong!
Equally important is the catch. As the peanuts are going to be loose and unattached in the shell, this had to be secure - two loops overlap on closing and a hook holds them together - to be extra sure the monkey nut can't be open without removing the chain. (I did consider tethering them to the inside of the shell with a tiny chain at one point)
I would have preferred to have left it so the pendant could be opened without the wearer taking it off - but I didn't want to make any extra money selling replacement peanuts... what the hell am I SAYING! Doh!
Now for the final polish, ahh the polishing... the most time consuming task - but also the most rewarding!
I don't inscribe myself, so I sent the peanuts away to Gary at 'Teeside Trophies'
... two peanuts, monkey nut...Mr and Mrs Nutty - Obviously, what else would go on there!
Another final polish, chain, box...
...not forgetting to take lots photos for the website!
Really pleased with the way this one turned out - I'm also really pleased the intended wearer got to wear it... I hear it was touch and go at one point.
...Lesley - it was my pleasure, I sincerely hope you and Mr Nutty get to enjoy this gift for many years to come.