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Wood, Silver and Stone

A tinkerer's approach to jewelry making

Humankind’s attraction to jewelry is as old as anything, and the archeological discoveries are there to prove it. Whether it’s the extravagant jewels found in King Tut’s tomb, or a simple shell necklace hung around a much humbler wearer’s neck, all sorts of artifacts have been discovered which point to the basic desire to adorn oneself. Without going into cultural aspects governing jewelry wearing, a subject that could fill volumes but is outside the purpose of this post, I will simply look at jewelry from the standpoint of the artist/craftsman.

I love jewelry! Although I rarely wear any – and when I do, it might be just a pebble on a string – I like looking at it, and I enjoy making it even more. In my jewelry making endeavors I bring together woodworking, metalsmithing and lapidary to craft unique, visually interesting adornments in an eclectic style.

Being primarily a woodworker, I like the tactile quality of wood. You can fashion it with minimal tools and effort, and it comes in an incredible range of varieties – sometimes even from the same tree! – depending on where it comes from and how it’s cut. And I like working with silver because of its malleability and relatively low cost. As it takes a high polish, it contrasts nicely on a wood or stone background. It too, can be worked with a minimum of tools. (See “Beyond Bare Bones”).

When it comes to stones, I like agates and jaspers because of the wide variety of color, but I also like and use beach stones, with the soft sheen produced by the waves and the sand. The cutting and polishing of stones requires some specialized tools and a different set of skills, but even here, the learning curve is not that steep and tools can be bought or homemade.

By definition or default, a jewelry craftsman is a DIY-er, so rigging up a stone-cutting saw or a polisher is not outside the realm of possibilities. And with a little bit of searching, good quality used tools can often be bought at a fraction of the cost of new.

Finally, this post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention yet another important tool: drawing. I use drawing to explore various possibilities of combining the materials into aesthetically pleasing and well-balanced compositions.

I will wrap up by saying I’m fully aware that my jewelry will not appeal to everybody, but it’s a consolation that there are some that fall in love with it and for the sake of those few, I will keep on making it. 😊 Below are some examples of my latest efforts.

Black locust burl, lapis lazuli and silver

Black locust, turquoise and silver

Ebony, reticulated silver and Chinese turquoise

Ebony, raw carnelian, turquoise and gold (the Big Dipper)

Ebony, silver and banded agate

Ebony, amethyst pebble and silver

Locust burl, beach pebble and silver

Imbuia, reticulated silver and turquoise

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