How it's Made: Part 2!

Note:  This is part 2 of a two part series on my process.  You can find Part 1 of the series here. 

Once I have finalized the composition and traced the shapes, I cut out the rough shape using a scroll saw.  Multiple small pieces can be cut from the same block, while larger pieces usually use the entire block.  Once the shapes are cut, I use a disc sander to refine the shape. 

Ovals that have been cut out and sanded on the disc sander.  If you look closely, you can see the pencil markings I use as a guide while sanding. 

Ovals that have been cut out and sanded on the disc sander.  If you look closely, you can see the pencil markings I use as a guide while sanding. 

Next, I refine the shape further by hand using sanding sticks.  The shapes are a challenge to sand evenly because of the combination of very different materials, as well as the visual distraction from the pattern. 

Here I have traced the shapes on paper to check against the templates without the visual distraction of the pattern. 

Here I have traced the shapes on paper to check against the templates without the visual distraction of the pattern. 

After the edges of the shapes are sanded I begin the process of sanding the parallel sides.  If I am making a pair of earrings, I cut the shape in half with a jewelers’ saw, creating a mirror image effect.  Starting from a course grit (120) I sand the edges to a fine grit (1500)

While I am sanding, I continuously check the sides of the piece with digital calipers to ensure that the thickness is the same throughout the shape, and the sides are parallel.

While I am sanding, I continuously check the sides of the piece with digital calipers to ensure that the thickness is the same throughout the shape, and the sides are parallel.

The next step is sealing the pieces with microcrystalline wax.  This not only protects the wood but also brightens the colors and adds depth to the wood grain.  This is one of my favorite parts of the process – the pieces instantly transform when the wax is applied!

The final part of the process is making the metalwork.  Using recycled sterling silver, I hand fabricate each part using raw materials such as wire and sheet.    

Here I am fabricating a necklace part.  The pins are milled to fit into the curved piece and serve as the internal structure of the pendant,  while the curved piece will connect the pendant to the cord. 

Here I am fabricating a necklace part.  The pins are milled to fit into the curved piece and serve as the internal structure of the pendant,  while the curved piece will connect the pendant to the cord. 

After I fabricate the metal pieces, I clean up any solder and sand them from a course grit (320) to a fine grit (1500) creating a brushed finish on the sterling silver.  My finishing techniques have been refined over many years of working in the jewelry trade; Did you know I used to refinish high end watches? 

The next step is to either apply a surface patina.  If the piece has a bright finish, I use a process called depletion gilding to bring the fine silver to the surface of the piece by heating the piece and removing any surface oxidation many times to achieve a brighter finish. 

Finally, I assemble the finished pieces.  Some of the pieces use an internal pin structure to hold the wood and metal together, while other pieces such as earrings use rivets to allow movement. 

Here I am riveting a pair of earrings. 

Here I am riveting a pair of earrings. 

And then the piece is finished and ready to wear!  As you can see, each piece is a labor of love taking many hours to complete. 

Thank you for following along in this behind-the-scenes look a my process.  Be the first to know about new blog posts, events, shop updates and more by joining the mailing List.  Plus, mailing list members get 10% off their first online purchase!