About my Work
I use a variety of techniques – traditional soldering, texturing, and stone setting, as well as wire wrapping, etching, and casting. Most recently, I started working with wood and metal inlay as well.
My Work using Traditional Metalsmithing Techniques
All of my pieces are hand-forged and built as unique objects that will not be repeated. I use silver, gold, copper, brass and bronze, and combine with semiprecious stones, pearls, and vintage glass. I create my own large chains, clasps, and ear wires – I handforge all elements of my work. I recycle my metal and love to acquire vintage gemstones, beads, and glass elements to bring to life in new work. I hammer and texture my metal for depth and complexity, depending upon the piece I am buiding at the time. The metal, stones and beads speak to me and inform my design choices.
Abstract “Vine” and Sculpted Rings, Pendants, Bracelets and Earrings – Lost Wax Casting
Every piece in this section is individually hand-sculpted in wax, using a variety of techniques: semi-solid wax to be worked with somewhat like clay (to add texture and layers); or flowing wax that I shape and mold in its liquid form to create abstract structures. These pieces are then transformed into the work you see today via a process called lost wax casting.
Lost wax casting (also called “investment casting”, “precision casting” or cire perdue in French) is the process by which a metal sculpture (in this case, wearable jewelry) is cast from an original sculpture in silver, gold, brass or bronze. This ancient method dates back thousands of years. The oldest known examples of this technique are the objects discovered in the Cave of the Treasure (Nahal Mishmar) hoard in southern Israel, and which belong to the Chalcolithic period (4500–3500 BCE). Conservative Carbon 14 estimates date the items to c. 3700 BCE, making them more than 5700 years old!
The steps I use to create my small sculptures are:
- I individually hand-sculpt each and every piece and component in wax, using tools and types of wax that best serve the purpose for the piece.
- The wax sculpture is then attached to a “sprue”, a treelike structure of wax that will eventually provide paths for the molten metal to flow through the casting in order to get to the sculpted piece.
- The wax sculptures (with sprue) are fused onto a rubber base, called a “sprue base”. Then a metal flask, which resembles a short length of steel pipe that ranges roughly from 1.5 to six inches tall and wide, is put over the sprue base and the waxes. Most sprue bases have a circular rim which grips the standard-sized flask, holding it in place. Investment (refractory plaster) is mixed and poured into the flask, filling it.
- The flask is placed in a kiln, whose heat hardens the investment into a shell, and the wax inside melts and runs out. Now all that remains of the original artwork is the negative space formerly occupied by the wax.
- The flask is taken straight from the kiln, and then cast via centrifugal casting. Molten metal is forced into the flask at high speed, destroying the mold and creating the piece. It’s a very quick and unpredictable process!
- Once the flask is just cool enough (about 7-10 minutes after casting), the flask is dipped into water to continue to cool the piece inside and to remove the plaster. The sculpture is then trimmed of excess metal (which is recycled), and the piece is checked for casting errors (such as air bubbles or other oddities), The sculpted piece is then worked until the telltale signs of the casting process are removed, so that the casting looks like the original model.
The finished piece, in its final form, CANNOT be duplicated. You are guaranteed a true one-of-a-kind work.
Wood and Metal Inlay
Domestic and exotic hardwoods (some treated with fascinating colors) come in large pieces that I then slice, file, shape, and sculpt; much like working with carving wax for lost wax casting. However, I then add silver or gold-filled inlay in line or dot form throughout the wood by carefully measuring and removing just enough wood for the metal to fit tightly (with either a specialized saw blade or drill). Sometimes these pieces are two-sided – for example, a pendant may have a different look depending on each way it is worn, or if the pendant “flips” while on the neck, so there is no “back” to the piece.
Once the inlay is set, each sculpted wood section is finely sanded until it is extremely smooth to the touch – which gives it buttery, soft feel, almost like a “worry stone”. Then, I treat the wood with a sealing wax which will help keep its luster and shine, and will bring out the unique hue of each wood piece; whether it is bloodwood, ebony, oak, or pattered/colored wood such as spalted maple or dye-infused wood (which brings bright colors into the wood).
I also sometimes add gemstones or vintage glass to my wood jewelry as well, for extra sparkle and fun.