I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoyed attending the workshop "Mokume Gane with the Masters" at Rio Grande in Albuquerque, with James Binnion and Chris Ploof. (Held February 8-13, 2015.) Turns out the big names of mokume are down-to-earth cool guys who just want to share their knowledge and experience with fellow mokume gane enthusiasts. I was one of 12 students eager to delve deep into the geeky world of mokume - science and numbers blending perfectly with big dangerous tools and hot metal.
I also enjoyed getting to see the insides of Rio Grande (where I purchase supplies, tools and metal) and learning what an impressively run company it is. The employees were helpful and welcoming, and we got to test out oodles of cool tools and equipment. It is clearly a fabulous place to work. Our tour of the facility deserves its own blog post - look for it here soon.
This workshop got me fired up (so to speak) about fusing my own mokume again. They demonstrated practical techniques to make the fusing manageable, repeatable and cost-effective. It will take a little time to get all tooled up and kitted out to do it, but now I'm confident of the steps, and am thankful I won't need a power hammer!
Next month I'll be taking my hammers and files on the road and heading to the University of Central Oklahoma. Professor and Assistant Dean Charleen Weidell has invited me to share my love of mokume gane with her jewelry and metalworking students. We'll spend three days exploring the world of mokume gane - history, current trends, and practical demos of stamp and twist patterning. Students will receive their own blank mokume to try their hand at patterning too. As part of the workshop I'll be giving a public lecture on my work and how I transitioned from art student to successful small business owner.
If you are nearby Edmond, Oklahoma on March 12-14, 2015 stop by and say hello!
3/25/15 update - the workshop was a blast! The studio at OCU is fabulous, with an impressive tool collection and dedicated students and faculty. Even the lecture was well-attended and received ~ phew. Might have a video of that in the future, but in the meantime here's some images of the workshop itself:
Saturday-Sunday, January 24-25, 9am-4pm, $220
$50 additional to upgrade to sterling silver/copper mokume-gane.
Stamp patterning is the easiest, most direct method for creating your own unique mokume-gane patterns. In this 2-day intensive, you will learn how blank mokume-gane is fused, learn to pattern your own with commonly used stamp tools, and explore related patterning techniques such as direct hammer texture, and steel wire impression transfer. Demonstrations of patterning techniques in the mornings, with lots of directed work time in the afternoons. Time to create multiple patterned mokume pieces for your own future projects, and a finished pendant and/or bracelet. BEG-ADV. Register today.
My most recent custom piece was a joy to make. A fellow came in to my studio wanting a memory ring to honor his recently departed wife. We worked from the starting point of the rings that they wore during 37 years of marriage. At right is the design we came up with. The 14k yellow gold edging is those actual three rings, which I melted down together then rolled and fabricated into two bands. The center stone is the diamond he most wanted to incorporate - from the smaller ring, the one he had bought for her when they first married. The central mokume gane band and diamond represent their connection - separated by planes of existence for now, but always connected. I was honored to help him remember his wife in this way.
Saturday, December 13, 9am-4pm (one hour lunch break) - $125
$75 additional to upgrade to sterling silver/copper mokume-gane.
Twist patterning is an experience not to be missed - imagine twisting a 6mm square solid mokume-gane rod over three revolutions with just common hand tools, then cutting into the metal to reveal the star pattern beneath. You will then forge out the rod to become an elegantly patterned mokume bracelet. Please note, there is a fair amount of filing and hammering involved, but persistence is more important then strength! BEG-ADV.
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.