Materials & Techniques

Materials and techniques

The metal I work with is primarily sterling silver, with the occasional use of copper, brass and gold. I have also used a selection of other materials over the years, with recurring favourites being slate, bone and horn. These are often employed with silver and stones, in order to provide a background or contrast that the silver alone does not supply. These materials attract me due to their soft, organic finish and the versatile ways in which they can be worked.
I use a range of semi precious and precious stones, with opal and particularly boulder opal being my favourites. Garnet, amber, amethyst and peridot are my most commonly used coloured stones, although by no means exclusively, and various colours of sapphire are also used.

Boulder Opal

 

Boulder opal is one of my favourite materials, and a uniquely Queensland product. It is found no where else and is formed in fissures in iron stone boulders. These range from the size of small pebbles up to massive chunks well deserving of the name Boulder!  These are found in a range of localities throughout the arid western part of the state. The opal is often of great brilliance, but very seldom does it form any great thickness, most typically occurring as thin seams or flecks only a few millimetres thick, often twisting and turning throughout the base rock (or matrix). For this reason Boulder opal will nearly always be cut with a variable amount of the matrix, and very often the opal will be seen as a vein or scatter of colour over the ironstone background. The stones are generally irregular in shape and random in pattern which makes them, in my eyes, much more interesting and individual to work with. I find it works well with my more organically shaped pieces, often accentuated by techniques such as reticulation and granulation, and the use of small feature stones around the main Boulder opal centrepiece. I am looking forward to further experimentation with this most intriguing and beautiful of rocks!

Cuttlefish Casting

Cuttlefish casting uses the natural textures found in cuttle bone to add texture to a piece of jewellery. It simply involves carving the desired shape into the bone and adding a backing to make a void into which molten metal is poured. The metal takes on the ripples and patterns of the mould as it sets. The mould is burnt out after a cast and each piece is thus a one off, as unique as a fingerprint. The technique has been around for a great many years as a means of making a quick one off cast in the manufacturing process of many bench jewellers, but in the sixties and seventies it became popular amongst the rising ‘art jewellery’ movement, who appreciated the unusual look it provided. This is my take on it!

Sand casting

Preparing sand by chopping finely in preparation for packing into the frame
Model about to be removed from sand in preparation for pouring in metal
Two parts of mould re-assembled ready for casting
Melting silver in crucible ready to pour into mould
Casting completed ready for trimming and finishing
After repeating the process, bails were soldered onto the castings. Finishing and polishing were completed and ear wires added.
Sand cast ring shank next to the original model

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