Craftsman of the Month
Cover of Rock&Gem V1N1 March-April 1971

Donald E. Cunningham - February 2000 - Thumb Butte Bola

The Craftsman of the Month for February is Donald E. Cunningham of Prescott, Arizona, for his Thumb Butte bola slide. Here is his story.

"The design for this bola tie was inspired by Prescott's most notable landmark, Thumb Butte, and the city's reputation as the home of the world's oldest rodeo.

"The cabochon was cut from a piece of synthetic amber, and polished front and back to provide near transparency with the typical amber hue.

"The outline of Thumb Butte was traced on the protective cover of a sheet of 20-gauge jewelry-quality brass. This design was then etched into the brass, using jewelry burrs in a Moto-Tool hand piece. Next, a brass bezel the size of the cabochon was soldered around the edges of the design. This effectively produced a brass bezel cup with a design in the bottom.

"A pattern was made for half of the steer horn to permit the finished horns to just surround the cabochon's bezel. To enable the horns to be shaped, half of the desired finished width was added to each side of the layout. Two of the horn patterns were cut from a sheet of 22-gauge silver. One was then reversed to complete the span of the horns. These were then shaped to half-round horns, using repoussť tools and a pitch pot.

"To complete the horns, allowing for exact positioning on the cabochon bezel, the two halves of the horns were joined by soldering a 1/2-inch piece of 22-gauge copper around them.

"The ends of the horns were then attached to the sides of the cabochon bezel. The inside of the brass bezel cup was polished and the etched areas of the bezel design blackened, using liver of sulfur.

"To complete the design, a small replica of a six-gun was soldered to the copper holding the horns. Then the project was polished and a bola-tie slide fitting attached to the back of the cabochon cup."

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