I was going through my photos and came across my graduation project pieces from way back in 1992. Time does certainly fly. The criteria was that we were supposed to use as many of the techniques we had learned and apply them in a creative and aesthetic way to jewelry and/or objects.
I have always had a fascination for boxes. Perhaps because I read the story of Pandora as a child and my imagination was stimulated by the fact that boxes can hold things in, or let them out. All in all, I find them mysterious and lovely. One might even call it a fetish...
I made three boxes with silver and gold elements but unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the third one.*
I used traditional silver smithing raising techniques to make the lid and base for this one. I added random gold balls, as well as angular dents, creating a kind of organic yet alienesque look. The wood part is an exotic hardwood called Zebrawood. A friend who was much more familiar with woodworking helped me turn the bowl and I sanded and waxed it to a baby's bum softness. The lid swivels on single rivet.
This second box featured another exotic hardwood called Bubinga, (yes, really, that's what it was called) and had deep, rich reddish brown colour with lots of beautiful striations. (My friend again helped me with the wood part and I sanded and finished it with bees' wax.)
The lid involved scoring and curving the silver plate to create the points and curves. I then fitted the sides and soldered them to create a functional lid. I also applied 24kt gold leaf using a technique called Kumbo (not sure of the spelling) that required the silver to be heated and quenched several times in order to get a fine silver "skin" on top of the silver plate. I then applied random pieces of the gold leaf and burnished them into the surface with the aid of a hot plate underneath. Apparently, the heat allows the gold leaf to fuse to the surface and creates a lovely pattern. I finished it off by using a glass brush over the entire surface for a soft, matte look.
* Third box was an open style, no lid, but was rectangular with a divet in the middle and had silver sides with cut out geometric holes as decoration. It was made of another exotic hardwood called Purple Heart, named for its beautiful purple colour when freshly cut. It eventually oxidizes and loses that deep purple and gets more brown with time. (I named this one Purple Heart On My Sleeve, because I couldn't resist the play on words.)
These images show some of the jewelry pieces that I made to go with the boxes. The box bracelet also used the Kumbo technique and aded a touch of warmth to the silver. I made a couple of rings, one with a beautiful Lapis Lazuli stone with carnelian accent stones and one with a green tourmaline. The necklace features different coloured tourmalines which were evenly spaced into a hand made chain of 14kt yellow gold with silver accents. I gave it to my mom as she would (and did) appreciate all the work that went into making it!
The pictures were not taken by me so they don't really do justice to the vibrant colours but it's nice to have a record of my school work. I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past!
Hélène is a Vancouver BC designer/goldsmith with a passion for beautiful gemstones and precious metals. She works with the philosophy that objects that are thoughtfully conceived, hand made with technical precision and infused with artistic passion have an energy that cannot be attained with mass produced objects. With this belief, no two pieces are identical and each are unique and one of a kind.