Susan Hayward at the Academy

To wrap up Susan Hayward’s emerald and diamond brooch project with Larry McQueen, I would like to share some recent photographs from the exhibit in Los Angeles.

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Costume at the exhibit before the brooch was added




If you can go see the Costume Exhibit, please go. You will learn so much about why  and how costume designers are true story tellers.



Susan Hayward’s Star Brooch at the Maker’s bench

After many days of refining design details, soldering, polishing and setting crystal gemstones, the complex brooch finally come to fruition. The emerald and diamond star brooch that was seen in movies like “Ada” and “Valley of the Dolls” was finally finished.

In the following series of pictures we will share the finishing processes needed to complete the Re-Creative Jewelry brooch for our client, Larry McQueen.

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Top level of the brooch cast in yellow bronze
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Soldering the top and second level together

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All three levels were soldered to gather next phase is to have it plated to look like platinum

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Right out of the box from the plating company, our next step was to add the cyrstal gemstones
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Each stone needed to be cleaned in alcohol and glued into place
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The center emerald was hand set, then we added the crystals starting with the lower level 4mm “gemstones”
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The back of the brooch was finished with a soft diamond texture brush
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The final product was stunning.
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Wonderful packaging
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Susan Hayward’s dazzling brooch can be seen now at the Hollywood Costume Exhibition in LA. October 2 to March 2, 2015.


Creating the Star Brooch for The Collection

Counting and placing diamonds or crystals for this design project is painstaking slow work. We selected varies sizes of crystals ranging  from 1mm – 4mm to re-create the Pave style setting for Susan Hayward’s Star brooch.

Stone layout
Crystals and glass “emerald”
Having created the initial design drawings for the brooch on the computer enabled us to have the flexibility of getting the design exactly the way we waited without moving an actual gemstone. A wonderful time saver in the gemstone layout process.

Gemstone layouts
Gemstone layout

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Ready to drill the holes for the crystals
Using the print-outs from the computer we overlaid them onto the wax carving and hand drilled the location of each stone. Once complete we removed the paper and proceeded to shape and size the openings to fit each crystal specified. The better the wax carving the less time you will spend in metal during the finishing process.

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Here we are making certain that the crystals fit in the design layout before shaping the drill holes
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Next step was to ship them off to our casting company. Each component is sprued to a “tree” then placed in a flask, plaster is poured into the flask, dried then burned out in an oven, leaving the hallow forms to be filled with liquid metal. The end product will be yellow bronze castings. We selected yellow over white due to the fact that yellow casts better then white in details castings like our star brooch.

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Faux pave wax details are carved in the wax before casting

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Final waxes are assembled one last time to check the design before being sent to the casting company

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Here are the waxes after they have been sprued to the base

Designing & Carving the Model for Susan Hayward’s Star Brooch

Finding an emerald cabochon within our budget was not possible. Even a good Chatham emerald eluded our means. So my client Larry McQueen searched the internet and found a vintage glass cabochon that looked like it was made for our project. It was a beauty.

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Here is the green cabochon placed on a polished background plate of sterling silver. We did this to determine the best way to present the stone, so it would maintain the rich color. Should we have a plate behind the stone or not?
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Here is the same stone resting on a matte sterling silver plate. The green color glass gem was surprisingly close to the real emerald gemstones (shown in the picture)

Having finalized the drawings the next step was to carve the multi level star brooch in wax. This is our specialty.

One has to be careful not to carve too thin a plate, the casting metals will not flow properly when being cast if the design is too thin and too large. This brooch was one of the largest multi level casting we have ever made.

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Using our drawings from the computer as templates, we carefully cut the wax layers


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Each layer had a slight curve to it

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Next step was to drill the holes for the gemstones
Next step was to drill the holes for the gemstones

Susan Pictures Work  220Once the holes were drilled then each diamond needed to be measured and placed on the wax. The diamond layouts took a few hours to create. We will continue the story continued tomorrow.


Wax Models Ready for Casting

We have been working with a wonderful casting company in Northern California for almost 15 years. They do beautiful castings in a variety of metals. The day we finished carving was one of the hottest days of the summer. And I worried that the waxes might be affected by the summer heat during transportation, but the gods were with us and they arrived intact.

To cast in the lost wax method, waxes are carefully attached or sprued to a treelike structure of wax that will eventually provide paths for the molten casting material to flow and for air to escape. The carefully planned spruing usually begins at base with a wax “cup,” which is attached by wax cylinders to various points on the wax models.

The sprue is not hollow, as it will be melted out later in the process. Shown below are you will find our waxes sprued to the trees. This is done right before they are placed in a flask and made ready for the plaster pour.


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Greta Garbo and Susan Hayward waxes on the trees

Continue reading “Wax Models Ready for Casting”

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