Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Zoo Nation Pendant Project

What Is It's a brand new family business founded by Darrell and Sue Zwicker of Newmarket, New Hampshire. Zoo Nation sells quality customizable apparel and accessory products that are both functional and unique in design.  Their goal is to raise funds for organizations focused in the areas of mental illness, developmental disabilities, and youth enrichment.
Darrell found my jewelry on my website and contacted me to see if I would be interested in making necklaces for the store, home parties, etc. and I said I would be willing to give it a try!
I began by making a reverse image of the Zoo Nation logo, and impressing it into some low fire white clay. When the clay was in it's "leather stage" I carved out the mold, trying to stay as true to the size and shape of the logo as I could. Letters are one of the most difficult things to carve because they need to be precise. Abstract images are much more forgiving.
This is the finished mold after I fired it in the kiln.
Darrell indicated he liked the look of the terra cotta clay, so I began taking some terra cotta and pressed it into the mold, and was happy to see the mold worked pretty well! Here are some of the first pendants in the greenware stage, before the first kiln firing. Before the bisque firing, the pendants need to be sponged to smooth out any rough edges or cracks. After the bisque firing, I began experimenting with different colored glazes. Darrell and Sue wanted the pendants to be similar to the Zoo Nation logo, so I tried different greens on the terra cotta background, leaving the background with only clear glaze so the natural redness of the clay showed through after the final firing.
Once the painting of the colored underglazes is finished, two coats of a clear or transparent overglaze is painted over the pieces. The clear glaze I use happens to be pink. I also painted some beads so I could create some sample necklaces.
Below are some of the finished, glazed pendants and beads, with a few finished necklaces. I tried a variety of glaze ideas, glazing the background, and leaving the letters and logo unglazed for instance. I wanted to give the Zwickers some options to choose from.
And these are the final selections now available in the store! It was great fun working with the Zwickers and I wish them great success with their new company!


  1. Hello Lisa.....Thank you so much for sharing the Zoo Nation story. We are just getting into the official launch and by all indications the Zoo Nation pendants you designed will be a huge success! The quality and the service you have provided has been impeccable! Thanks soon.
    Darrell Zwicker

  2. Thanks so much Darrell ~ So happy for the opportunity to be involved with - a company with a much needed and compassionate mission. Looking forward to the official launch!

  3. These pieces are wonderful! And what a great mission… Thanks for sharing the process. Awesome job carving out the letters backwards too. That is something I always have issues getting my brain around!

  4. I love seeing the process from start to finish!
    thanks- very nice!