Article written by: Marianne Becktel, You Need This!, November 2000

 

The SilverTree™ pendants broke onto the scene in the summer of 2000. Many folks didn't know what to make of them, and at their price, they are not a substrate for doing a lot of trial and error. But they can be rewarding for those who choose to work with them, and this article will help you decide whether you want to get into them, and if you do, some tips to help you do your best with them.

The pendants come in three sizes: small (.75 inch long); medium (1 inch long); and large (1.25 inches long). They also come in four shapes: heart, circle, oval, and rectangle. They are sterling silver, feel substantial, and come with a fine chain. Pricing varies by vendor, with some offering a discount of $1 for pendants without chains. Responding to interest in these as charms, there is also now a charm bracelet offered as an option.

Originally these pendants came with attachers called "bails" as the counter poster (right) shows. As these were soft silver, nothing was holding them closed. For better security, they now come with spring rings instead (the same principle as a key chain), which is not as pretty. A hand silver solderer can help you go back to the original bails, which look better. It also would help secure charms on bracelets. But the new rings work fine.

Click the photo above for larger view.

 So how do you go about making one of these? First you start with an image. These pendants are small.  Well lit, crisp pictures without distracting backgrounds are ideal. Many customers will offer you studio portraits, from fine photographers and discount chain portrait studios. WATCH OUT! Such pictures are great and easy to use, but they are copyright material. Many people feel that if they have paid for them, they own the rights to them, but photographers have long been protective of their images, and will go to court to protect their use. Your customers need to have permission to use the picture before you are free to scan and use it.

So, what do you do with a home snapshot? Yes, you can work with it. This is one I had to work with. A Baby with her proud Grandma.

The customer wanted the baby picked out and put on a medium sized heart pendant.

Yes, it is usable, but I saw several problems to overcome with this image.

 
 

In addition to overall sharpness, these are the problem areas that need to be addressed:

  1. The split background. If you look at the SilverTree poster you will see that they have no background. There is nothing to distract from the image.
  2. We need to get Grandma out of the picture
  3. The baby's head casts a shadow on the wall behind
  4. The red beads are a clash and could be distracting.
  5. The baby's head is at the top of the photo.

Each graphics package handles these difficulties in a different way.

These can be overcome by either using the rubber stamp tool in Photoshop to even out the background, or "masking" the image.

The focus also needs to be sharpened.

As each program handles these differently, we will continue the process with the finished image here.

Vendors offer an introductory pack which is essential to make this process work. It usually consists of an electronic "mask" in the size and shape of each pendant so you can adjust your image to fit. It also contains a plastic template that allows you to fit the image exactly the way you want the final to be. You also get a counter card that shows all the options. I understand that the manufacturer added suggested retail prices to later versions (see the SilverTree poster) This is unfortunate because I find I can charge a higher price, and it's likely you can too. If you are ordering for the first time, ask which version is included with the kit.

This shows you what the electronic template looks like (in the background. Once you have a touched up picture, you layer the template over your image, and make adjustments until you get a size that looks great in the window.

However, be aware that they neglected to include the loop up above the shape, which is also going to sublimate. That is why it was important to us make sure there was enough background above the baby.

 
Make adjustments by manipulating the size of the picture beneath 

Too big

 Too small  This one is just right. It fills the pendant area without crowding.

 

After you have the right size, then color correct it and print

(I just included this so you could see what we go through for our Macs)

Remember to reverse print!

 

 

Once you have printed out the transfer, put the plastic template over your image. Check to make sure your background (if any) covers the total opening.

If you did not make the background large enough, you could be leaving blanks, or have to shift the image to a less than ideal position.

Don't think that the picture has to be dead centered. This image is more pleasing if not centered exactly over the baby's head.

 

If you did not take into consideration the lack of stem or the correct width in the electronic template, you will run into problems.

  

This background fills the whole pendant and stem.

If you had chosen to mask (blank out) the background, this would not be a problem you'll have to deal with.

Once your template is in place, then hold it securely, and fit the pendant in the hole. The hole is ever so slightly smaller than the pendant.

 

  

Place the pendant with the carved (fluted) side down. That is the only side that is sublimatable.

 

Before you start, have your heat tape cut and ready.

Keep your finger planted firmly on the pendant, Carefully lift the template off. Since it is a tight fit, you may have to wiggle the plastic a bit, but don't let the pendant shift.

 

 Immediately use your cut heat tape pieces to tape down the pendant in place.

Then press transfer side up at 400 degrees for 40 seconds under light to medium pressure and don't forget to put a blank piece of paper over the image area.

Be aware that this will be HOT, so take care in removing it, and then allow it to cool.

 

When you uncover it, the pendant will be ugly. Don't panic. There will be residue on the pendant.

You can clean it by rubbing lightly with 0000 steel wool, with the "grain" across the pendant.

 

 The only thing left to do is to assemble the pendant
  At the end, you have a pretty product that will please her loving grandma.

The above review is: Copyright 2000 Marianne Becktel, All rights reserved, and may not be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the author.