Monday, May 31, 2010

Rustic Spirals

The last task for these earrings was to design shepards hooks. I wanted to use something strong that would make a statement as they were for an exhibition so I decided to use the forged spiral shepards hooks that I made for the shwe-shwe earrings, but I wanted them to have a rougher more rustic appeal. Once I tapered either side of the bar I forged it slightly with the least caution possible and then bent it into a spiral shape, also quite carelessly so it deliberately had sharp curves and kinks in the metal to mimic the zigzag effect of the Baobab's branches. Again with the shepards hooks I wanted to get an overall handmade feel to match the rustic Baobab elements.

Baobab Sapling

I used the marquise-shaped punch for the leaves of my baobab and decided to slump green coloured glass beads into them for colour. The melted beads worked really well especially the side the beads were placed as the colour appeared much brighter against the silver.

I still really liked the baobab without the leaves so I decided to create 2 pairs, one which represents summer and one to represent winter.

There was just one finishing touch that it needed, an interesting edge. I wanted to try out something different from the dotted edge of the mandala earings as it can be very time consuming, so I tried a concave triangle flat punch and I really liked the effect it created, an almost petal-like shape as it bulged out the metal.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I needed to find a way to portray my Baobab that had the most definition and detail. I came up with the Idea of using a tiny dot punch which enabled me to use intricate patterns and fine lines. When hammered on a polished steel block it makes a shiny bump texture. I then drew a few Baobabs and chose the template that I wanted to work with, the first punched tree looked really good apart from the fact that I found the dots to be too big. I realised there were two factors that lead to this result which is the thickness of the metal and the size of the punch tip. I then rolled the plate thinner and used a smaller dot punch. I also tried punching holes straight through another test piece to see the outcome which was quite interesting but I prefered the stamped texture, I may come back to this at a later stage.

Baobab earings- The seed

My first thought for these earings was to make a reticulated tree, reticulation is a technique that resembles the texture of bark when oxidised, I decided after some thought to create a Baobab from technique that I always use which is punching and stamping patterns into silver or copper sheet. I wanted to use this technique instead because it is quite unique and I thought it would bring about a more handmade, rustic feel, almost as though Vetkat himself could have made it out there in the bush.

I started off by just creating a tree shape from one punch only which was a marquise-shaped punch, although it looked interesting it seemed to really lack definition. The next test piece I made a line punch to act as the branches and leaves but I found this to be too uniform and straight, it lacked that natural feeling.

Vetkat Regopstaan Exhibition, The Baobab

The Baobab is native to South Africa and its beauty has inspired a wide range of arts and crafts. With its characteristic wide trunk and zigzag branches resembling a root-system, the Baobab has become somewhat synonymous with Africa and is sometimes refered to as the upside-down tree.

I took part in an exhibition for an original Khoisan Bushman artist who goes by the name of Vetkat Regopstaan Kruiper, we were asked to design and make a piece of jewellery based around his art work which had a strong bushman rock-art style. One drawing in particular captured me the most which was a drawing of the Baobab. I love the Baobab tree it is my favourite of all tree's especially because it is an African tree and it has many uses such as rope being made from the bark and is also a source of food and water.

The Baobab is also a very visually pleasing tree, I am attracted to the shape and I find something quite mystical and sacred about them, I have to wonder if is not the golden mean at work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I really want to create jewellery that is fully hand-made and really has that special hand-made essence to it. I want it to be quite visible that it has been hand-made yet I want it to still be high in quality and originality, in other words I want to stay away from flee market craft-like jewellery. My hopes and dreams are to one day build a Hand-made empire where people can buy something that is soulful and meaningful and has not been mass-produced over and over again.

The transformation

Through the lost wax casting my jewellery started taking a more organic form as I began using forms from the ocean as reference for design. Towards the end of the year I started moving away from organic jewellery as it had been over done so many times that I really wanted to do something different, I was still very interested in the mysteries of nature and what causes things to take the forms that they do. I then started researching Sacred Geometry which I found to be quite amazing, it gave me a few explanations as to the reasons nature manifests itself in certain ways.

Around the same time I found a new technique that had not been used alot which involved punching shapes through metal, this enabled me to create patterns in metal with a more 3 dimensional feel. I welcomed this technique with open arms as I love anything that is different and has not been replicated by many people, I love to be original.

I really loved the more hands-on approach and watching the transformation of the metal from start to finish, I felt as though I had a closer relationship with the metal as apposed to wax moulding, it also was much more successful in terms of manufacture than casting was.

This technique also pushed me to create my own punching tools which I have always enjoyed making. The making of the tools is just as important as the making of the jewellery, without the punches I would not have been able create all my different patterns on metal. The punching is also very repetitive especially with the Flower of Life pattern and when I begin punching it almost becomes like a mantra for meditation just as mandala's in Sacred Geometry are an aid to meditation so is the punching.

In the beginning

I started off with experimenting with spirals, I really love working with spirals and I enjoyed using wax rolling and moulding as an interesting way of creating spiral patterns.

I loved the technique and the jewellery that I made but found it to be very time consuming, the lost wax casting method was also not always successful.

During this time I researched the purposes of jewellery amongst ethnic communities as I wanted to find the original purposes of jewellery, I did this because I felt as though jewellery may have lost its true purpose in this day and age as most of it amounts to diamonds and gold, a mere show of wealth. Researching this topic brought me to find that it doesn't really matter that there is 'bling' jewellery what matters is that there are still jewellers out there making it for the right reasons

Monday, May 17, 2010

Commercial Jewellery designs

These are some of the designs that I have been doing for the jewellery store where I am working, they are requests from clients to be made up, I am enjoying this part of the job.