This special piece was commissioned by Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington VA to commemorate the rabbi's 15-year-anniversary at the shul. The major stipulation in the request was that I use any leftover stone I had from sculpting the alabaster flame of the ner tamid that I had the honor of making for the synagogue in 2010. I also had leftover silver from that project, but the rabbi is a dear friend of mine and I know that she doesn't wear silver. And since she's from Brazil where (as in Europe) 14K gold is considered "gold alloy," I decided that any metal in the piece would have to be 18K gold.
I started with a stylized version of the flame from the ner tamid, a motif I had first used in a limited run of ner tamid pendants that are also made out of stone and silver from the ner tamid. Since I'm still working on the that run, I didn't want to carve the design into a large slab of stone for this piece. I instead made a repoussage (where the design is hammered out from the back) of the flame motif in 18K yellow gold.
I'd previously made alabaster cabochons from some of the stone, but for this project I threw several dozen of the chips and chunks into a tumbler to see what kind of random bead shapes I'd wind up with. From those I selected a set with a symmetrical size gradient, hand-drilled them and separated them with 5-millimeter 18K gold beads.