A Special Graduation Gift

May 29th, 2009 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

We recently completed a fun project for Riverside Poly High School’s championship women’s water polo team. One of the mother’s in the booster club showed us a printed foil logo and wanted large pendant/charms made for each of the team members. The award ceremony was to be held about a month away.


Foil Logo from Stationery

Our client wanted the items to have a gold logo on a silver background, enameled in the school colors of orange and green with the bear and frame sculpted out into three-dimensions. She also wanted the word “Riverside” changed to “Water Polo.” Since she was representing the booster club, she was very anxious for the item to be a hit with the girls and to be affordable for the parents. Here is her sketch—

Client's Sketch

Client's Sketch

As the initial design consultation progressed, it became clear that her design, while possible with all the features she had in mind, would cost much more than her budget allowed. Our immediate task as designers was to show her what was feasible and desirable within her dollar and time constraints.

By staying in two dimensions and working directly from the image she supplied, we knew we could make a very nice piece that would faithfully represent the logo. Our JewelSmith CAD/CAM software has a tool that gives a great starting place for projects like this, interpreting a 2-D relief based on light and dark areas in an image. The process is similar to making our “Precious Portraits

Here are three versions of the design, rendered by JewelSmith

Three Proofs for Approval

Three Proofs for Approval

From left to right, version one showed the logo positioned as it was on the original stationery, version two shows a shape variation, and version three has the logo most visually balanced within an oval shape. #3 also has a more finalized version of the relief image with some tightening up of the design. By making the piece as one casting, without enamel and gold plating, we were able to recreate the essence of her design within her budget–#3 was her choice.

Jenny, our CAD designer refined the design the software generated from the logo, changing the lettering and enhancing the contrasts between the smooth planes of the Raincross and the furry texture of the bear.  The biggest challenge was getting the elements inside the Raincross frame, the bell and the winged diploma, to be recognizable after polishing.

After some trial and error, a couple of millings and a test casting, we were able to mill a perfect wax model. We cast and polished a sterling silver master and then made a low shrink silicone rubber mold from which we made six more sterling pendants. An added advantage of the rubber mold is that since the design fee has been charged to the initial order, we will be able to make the pieces at lower cost for next year’s team.

Here’s one of the finished medallions– client wanted a plain background without oxidation for the “Tiffany” look so we used Argentium sterling silver, and we left the back plain with a satin finish in case one of the girls wanted something engraved.


Finished Medallion

Happily, we were able to deliver the pendants on time and the feedback from our client was very positive. We were very pleased to be able to support our local community with quality work at a reasonable price.  If you have a project that incorporates a logo or photograph, whether for your organization or business, let us quote you– the personal touch is a great reward or incentive.

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