WILD THINGS
by Beadopotamus
Unique metal claw pendants connecting people with the incredible tigers and lions at the Conservator's Center


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Claws
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Teeth

The Process

Our claw and tooth replica pendants are created in a way that does not harm the animal of the original artifact. Cats (including tigers and lions) routinely shed the outer portion of their claws. These claw sheaths are recovered by the observant keepers at the Conservator’s Center when they maintain the animals’ enclosures. On occasion, lost teeth are found as well.

Raw Molds

A mold is then created from the collected material, leaving the original item intact and undamaged. From this mold, polymer or metal clay copies are created. While the piece dries, imperfections are smoothed and filed away. Each piece is stamped with a maker's mark before being allowed to dry overnight.

Raw Molds

Once dry, the pieces undergo a different process depending on the metal it is made of. Metal clay pieces are fired in a kiln at high temperatures to burn out the clay’s binding material leaving a solid metal piece. The polymer clay pendants are placed in a conventional oven to cure and harden.

Raw Molds

The next step in the process is finishing. Metal items are polished in a tumbler. Bronze and copper metals are sealed with a clear varnish to inhibit the oxidation of the metal and prolong the original polish. Polymer clay replicas are topped with a thin layer of sienna brown tempura paint before being sealed with a glossy finish.

Raw Molds

The metals all start out the same size before being fired but contract at different rates. From smallest to largest - white copper copper silver bronze polymer. All of the metal pendants are smaller than true size of the source material.

Raw Molds

Each piece is as individual as the animal it originates from and as such is unique. Variations will occur between pieces due to the hand-made nature of the work. Also due to the inherent nature of the metals, color and finish may change over time.

The Animals

Sadie Lioness

Sadie Lioness arrived at the Conservators’ Center with three companions – Mufasa Lion, Kiara Lioness, and Ugmo Lioness – all of whom were originally part of a large number of big cats living at a breeding facility in Ohio.


Sadie was a remarkably large lioness with an astonishingly big head and mouth, and a gait reminiscent of a bulldog. But it did not take long to realize that far from being intimidating, Sadie was incredibly gentle and affectionate.


Sadie constantly asked for attention from her devoted caretakers. She particularly loved chin and cheek rubs, and she often pressed the top of her head into her enclosure wall to allow for the best possible ear and scalp massages. She was always reliable to start a good “oofing,” and the other lions often followed her lead to thrill us with an entire compound chorus.


Sadie was diagnosed with terminal cancer in August of 2012, and showed few signs of her illness for many months. She passed away peacefully with her pridemates looking on and surrounded by her human friends on January 6, 2013.


Sadie was adored by Mufasa and doted on by Ugmo. She was truly a marvelous lion.


It’s difficult to lose one of the animals we love, and it’s especially challenging to say goodbye to one with such an oversized personality. We know Sadie left a huge impact on visitors, volunteers, and interns during her time with us, and it brings us enormous solace to know that she will be remembered by many.

Serabi Lioness

When Serabi Lioness arrived at the Conservators’ Center from a neglectful situation, she and her pridemates were scarred, scraped, and bruised. Despite her tumultuous beginnings, Serabi quickly recognized that her new home was one where she would be protected and cared for, and she transformed into a beautiful and dignified (yet occasionally goofy) lady.


The relationship between Serabi and her first love, Sam Lion, was stunning. His affection for her was truly striking, especially when considering what a gruff and macho lion he was. When it came to Serabi, he was tender hearted and attentive—and he ensured that she ruled the pride.


When Sam passed away, it was clear that Serabi mourned deeply for him. We were very concerned about how the pride’s dynamics would work moving forward. Over time, we integrated Matthai Lion into the pride, a transition that was smooth and beneficial to each lion. While Matthai could never fully replace Serabi’s first love, she quickly became attached to him and the two were rarely found apart.


Because of her deep bond with her males and her preference for spending the majority of her time with them, Serabi often seemed more aloof than our other lionesses. She carried herself with great dignity, pausing occasionally for the silly moments when she would lick and knead the air, actions induced by Matthai’s tender grooming. She epitomized the title of Queen, both in her carriage and in her position as head of the pride.

Ra Lion

Our resident “Fabio,” Ra is an absolutely gorgeous lion with a long, flowing mane that ripples in the breeze as he perches on top of his platform tower surveying the compound.


Ra and his siblings, Thomas, Adeena, and Willow, were born at the Conservators Center after their parents and 12 other lions and tigers were rescued from a breeding facility in Ohio that was finally closed after receiving citations for more than 900 violations of the animal welfare act. All four cubs were snowy white at birth and looked more than a little bit like lambs, but their coloration changed to the normal sandy brown as they grew. Ra lived with his brother Thomas, as a coalition, until we lost Thomas to acute illness (October, 2016.)


One Halloween our decorations included a life-sized witch mannequin (nicknamed “Aggie the Haggie”) who was introduced to many of the animals as a form of enrichment. Ra was fascinated by this strange creature and spent quite a long time examining her through the fence. Ra also loves anything mechanical, and closely follows the activity of our tractor and lawn mowers as well as any planes or helicopters that fly overhead.


About

One of my fondest memories of childhood was when my mother would allow me to look through her jewelry box. It was a rectangular box made out of woven natural fiber. I remember sitting on her bed with her looking through the rings, brooches, earrings and necklaces - marveling at the precious gemstones and the costume jewelry alike. As I grew older I started my own collection of jewelry and received a few pieces from my mother's own collection.

In the early 90's for spring break I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was then that I was introduced to a local jewelry supply company that worked primarily with Native American artists. On that visit, I bought a few strands of shell heishi beads, small turquoise nuggets, some silver beads, stringing material, a clasp and a strand of amber chips. My first necklace wasn't the most professional job, but I was hooked!

I ended up moving to Albuquerque a few months after that visit and became a regular patron of that jewelry supply company. I continued making jewelry for myself as well as for family members as gifts.

Eventually my experience and personal inventory grew. I began having people compliment me on the pieces that I wore and ask if I sold my jewelry and the rest is history. Most of my early jewelry sales experience came from break room sales and small crafts fairs before I created my online shop.

I've been making ID lanyards since 2003 and began creating claw / tooth replica pendants in 2012.

Contact

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