A number of years ago, I was asked to create a custom pendant inspired by Lislaughtin Abbey in Ballylongford, Co. Kerry. Together, the customer and I chose the east window in the Abbey.
Lislaughtin was built by the O'Connor's in 1478. It was used as a friary and it is located in Lislaughtin on the outskirts of Ballylongford village. As it is not far from where I grew up, I was familiar with the abbey and its architecture. I had also done some research into Lislaughtin Abbey when I was working on another jewellery commission. There is an amazing gold processional cross that's believed to have been used in the abbey.
The abbey is thought to have been raided twice. On one of these occasions, the friars would have buried the cross for safe keeping. It was not recovered until much later when a local farmer uncovered the treasure when he was working on his land. I discovered the cross is actually engraved with my name, Eileen! (Avlina in Irish)
After some research, I began working on sketches. My customer opted for a cut out rather than engraved window design. She chose a nice simple, contemporary pendant that would suspend from the chain on a single loop. Here are some of the design sketches:
To create the pendant, I worked from the exact dimensions of the actual window at Lislaughtin Abbey. When scaling down a design like this, it's important to retain the original proportions. With this piece, I didn't want to lose any of the elegance of the original window so great care was taken to reduce all of the dimensions to scale at a height of 1.5 inches. Firstly, I cut the piece out in copper to check all my measurements were correct. This way, I was able to make adjustments before I began working in precious metal. Once I was happy with the shape and dimensions, I moved on to creating the final template.
Using a paper template, I attached it directly onto my piece of silver before carefully cutting around the design. Each individual section of the window had to be meticulously precise. I used a piercing saw to cut each section by hand. This part of the process can be slow but the results are always rewarding. Next, it needed a pendant loop. I made this and soldered it on to the top. In my eagerness to finish the pendant, I forgot to take photos of the stages of the process of finishing and polishing. Sorry! Most importantly I do have photos of the finished piece before it left the workshop.
If you have an idea or design you'd like translated into silver or gold, contact me with a brief description on the Custom Jewelry page Update 2022: I have now added a Lislaughtin Abbey Window Pendant to my Online Collection: Shop it here Lislaughtin Abbey Window Pendant