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Austin Community College
Austin, TX. USA
As a child of an Air Force family, I got moved around a lot. Though I
was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, I left at age 2. After that it was
Scotland, Texas, DC, and Texas again, until I left home. I still
didn’t settle down for a long time, but eventually I made it back to
Texas, where my wife Jo Ann and I built an unconventional house (with
a Big Workshop!) in the woods of the Hill Country. We share the house
with two cats, and the woods with a lot of deer, birds, and assorted
I began doing leatherwork back in 1968–that’s right, '68!–and in
1974 I started working in precious metals. I am self-taught, and
still learning after over thirty years. Most of my career has been in
custom jewelry work. Wedding rings, especially mokume gane rings,
have always been the most frequently requested items, but sometimes
my clients present me with unique challenges. These give me the
opportunity to continually learn or invent new techniques, which I
love to do.
About 15 years ago, I was asked by Austin Community College to start
up a jewelry education program in connection with their Art Metals,
Blacksmithing, and Welding programs. I continue to teach there as a
full-time professor. I’m sure I’ve learned as much by teaching as I
ever did at the bench, and it has become a major focus and an
absolute necessity in my life.
I’m really proud of my Master Bench Jeweler Certification from the
Jewelers of America (www.jewelers.org). There are well over 100 of us
now (August, 2006), of which I was the 72nd. Their certification
program is based on rigorous skill testing at the workbench, and the
Master Level was the tou ghest test I ever had to take. (To see my
test pieces, click here.)
I also have long-standing interests in metal sculpture,
blacksmithing, and hand raising of vessels; as well as drumming,
photography, backpacking, and science, especially astronomy.
About my work:
This is hard for me to write about, as I’ve always believed that an
artist’s work should speak for itself, without need of explanation.
But still, there is an expectation on the part of an audience that
the artist should express some of the motivations and principles
underlying the work, so he re follows my attempt.
My world-view is both spiritual and scientific, aesthetic and
technical. Although our culture often places these values in
contention, I see them as different ways to appreciate reality–a
reality that becomes more mysterious and beautiful the more one
knows about it, rewarding endless fascination with endless wonder. It
is this mystery and wonder that I attempt to hint at in some way in
my designs. It is the challenge.
We have jewelry in our museums that was made hundreds, even
thousands of years ago. Looking at these treasures, you can see the
traces of a living hand and mind, perfectly transmitted through
time, as personal as a touch. You can sense the maker, the giver,
the wearer, the culture around them. I think about that whenever I
make a piece; that it might touch hands and eyes unimaginably far
away in time. I think it’s really cool.
Every artist has influences, and among mine are Art Nouveau, as
exemplified by the work of Georges Fouquet, Ren Lalique, Alfonse
Mucha, et al; Celtic design, especially the knotwork; and Art Deco.
Of course, the contemporary design environment in which we live
today also plays a role, and above a ll, I observe nature.
All my jewelry is functional, in the sense that it is made to be
worn and not just looked at.
I am what is called in jewelry terms a fabricator, that is, I work
directly with the metal, rather than casting it in a mold, so each
piece is individually handmade. Since my interest is in the
metalwork, I tend to use stones in a subordinate role, not as the
main focus of interest.
Incidentally, for the past few years I have chosen, when diamonds
are called for, to work only with heirloom stones or those that are
reasonably certain not to be conflict diamonds. (If you don’t know
what those are, please take a moment to follow the link.) The
diamond industry has cleaned up its act considerably in the last few
years, and I now have reliable sources for conflict-free diamonds.
I’m also investigating ways of obtaining gold and other gemstones
that are extracted in an environmentally benign manner. Your
feedback on this topic is always appreciated.
Making unusual pieces is very stimulating, but I still enjoy doing
wedding rings. In our culture, wedding rings are sometimes the only
really fine jewelry that non-jewelry people ever wear, so it’s very
satisfying to be able to provide something that is out of the
ordinary, and that has per sonal meaning for them.
In the summer of 2008 I took a course in Computer-Aided Design and
Manufacturing for Jewelry. It’s an exciting emerging field; fun for
me, because it’s like a jeweler’s video game. CAD jewelry will not
be displacing handmade anytime soon, if ever, but the process is
useful for making items that must be geometrically precise.
Custom work calls for a special skill that I enjoy practicing, the
art of communicating with clients to form an image of their desired
piece of jewelry, while simultaneously expressing my own aesthetic.
Experience has shown that the clients who allow me the greatest
artistic freedom are those who most often get just what they want.
And there’s mystery for you.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. USA
I have signed up to this forum to lean about jewelry and jewelry