More of The Vegetable Ivory Pendant

This is how I left the pendant many months ago… I really liked how Josh’s face turned out, but I felt that I had shadowed too much of Chloe’s face, and too darkly. There was very little of the creamy ivory showing. What a mess! No wonder I took so long to get back to it!

It took months of milling over solutions to this, and trying to figure out just what was wrong and what was right about it. But I knew I could rework it, even if it took several tries. When you do this often enough, you learn to project in your mind how it will end up. And you learn what “mistakes” will help and what you need to get rid of completely.

Yikes! I tried to lighten the shadowed area by applying a wash of white over the area. Now I have MUD. I should have remembered that the glow from the ivory behind the paint was the best reason to use this surface. White is opaque and obliterates that property. Can you guess my next step?

Surprised? Had to do it. But I left the eye and lips in place because I had labored over the exact placement of those features on the face. I had to remove the dried paint with an Exacto knife. The vegetable ivory is so dense and polished, it slid right off easily. As the new paint cures, it will bond with the surface, and I will be sealing the piece with crystal clear resin because it will be worn as jewelry.

Now you can see just a sampling of the many times I had to remove, paint, remove, paint, adjust, remove and repaint. I found that by leaving some of the old dry paint for the eye and lips, there were microscopic edges that were ruffled and the new paint was finding these places to settle as tiny lumps. Sooo… OFF with the eye! And eventually the lips had to go also. Luckily, I actually remembered the placement and size and shape of the eye and lips from having painted it often enough.

Jumping ahead… after a full day of working on this… we have a beautiful eye, mouth, and nostril. While I had to remove most of the mistakes I made previously because I could not cover them up and still get that glow, the repainting of the eye and mouth went more quickly. Also, I was able to correct a few tiny lines that I otherwise would have overlooked.

The pendant still has few details to fine tune, such as tendrils of hair and highlights here and there. For the most part, this piece is near done.

Hope you enjoyed observing the process of turning “lemons” into “lemonade”.

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  1. That is super cool! I love that you wrote out the steps used to create, change and ultimately get to the point where it currently is. I would be interested in seeing an action shot of you working on it, including a closeup of it being painted, if possible. Amazing work!

    1. Post

      Haha! Action shot? I’ll see what I can do, but I’m really camera shy. After this miniature, I’ll be spending the summer finishing 6 normal size portraits of all of my grandkids. Shamefully, I started these SIX year ago! But that’s how life gets in the way, I suppose. I’m thrilled to get feedback about this, as I have no other way of knowing if a post is interesting or not to readers. Thank you!

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