Monday, January 21, 2013

Making a Better Gingko Leaf

The title of this post should really be 'Making My Gingko Leaf Better' since Gingko biloba is wonderfully perfect.
The Gingko trees that are planted in our communities are basically the same as those that existed 200 million year ago, evidenced by fossils.
Gingko is used to treat a variety of ailments from senility, asthma and allergies, tinnitus and fibromyalgia.
The fruit are extremely odoriferous, earning the plant the dubious title of 'Nature's Stinkbomb'.
A bag of those stinky fruit played a crucial role in the 'Night of Clalmities' when there was a collective meltdown amongst the undergrad students in the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Illinois back when I was in the graduate program.
But that's another story....back to my leaves.
A request for leaves was made by the Manager of one of the shops that carries my work.
He mentioned that he really likes Gingko leaves, and I immediately said, "No problem!"
I had never made any Gingko leaf jewelry, but knew that this was something that I could easily undertake.
This is the first leaf that I made with 18 gauge brass.
I chose to work with brass, making a connection between the color of the metal and the bright, yellow fall color of the leaves.

Once I decided that the size and shape were what I wanted, I made templates out of cardstock, cut them out and fastened them to my sheet of 18 gauge brass using spray adhesive.
I used my jeweler's saw to hand cut the shapes which were then filed, sanded and textured with an old flea-market-find chisel.
My first leaf made me rethink part of my design.
As I made that first leaf, I didn't really give much thought about how it would hang on a chain.
I pretty much worked on auto-pilot, figuring that I would drill a hole for a wire wrapped connection.
Auto-pilot will get you to a good place, but there's usually another choice.
I do like the way the wire wrapped leaf will be able to "flutter" when on a chain, but I thought that it might also be interesting to have a cleaner look.
When I cut out the next few leaves, I made the leaf stems longer and then shaped them with my bail-forming pliers.
Most of my necklaces have wire wrapped chains with pearls and semi-precious stones, but this time, simplicity seemed the way to go.
I cut a choker length piece of leather cording and strung it through the bail.
Almost done......but I now had to figure out how to finish off the ends of the cording.
I do have fold-over crimp ends which were purchased from one of the supply companies that I frequently order from.
These are great findings, but this was not working for me.
I decided that I needed to make my own findings.
Using a nail as my form, I wrapped tight coils of dark annealed steel wire.
After inserting the cording, the one end of the coil was crimped, keeping my connections secure.
With the same wire, I made a clasp.
Much better than the manufactured crimps.


  1. I love your gingko leaves! I like that you made two different ways to hang them, and really I like them both. We have a gingko tree in our front yard and it has the most wonderful green leaves in the spring which turn to a lovely soft yellow in fall. Our tree has taken a hit with two years of drought, but she is a tough one.

  2. Thanks Alice. I like both versions also and am making several of each type to deliver on Thursday. Hope that you're done with drought conditions this year!

  3. Trial and error and success. I love that you removed the old findings and made your own - that really completes the pieces. Beautiful stuff.

    :: lynn