What do you do?
Small batch custom jewelry and wholesale body jewelry.
What does your work space look like? Where do you like to create?
When I open the door to my workspace I feel relief and beauty. I honestly can’t wait to hit my jeweler’s bench or soldering station of optimism. I work in a 1200 sq. foot top floor studio with spalted maple floors and 14 ft ceilings. My windows have a view of San Francisco spanning from the golden gate bridge to twin peaks. This natural light and expansive view is important when you work under a microscope setting tiny stones. You must remember to occasionally get up from the bench and look far away to keep your vision from deteriorating.
What role does the pencil play in your process?
I use Blackwing pencils not only for drawing out designs and mapping pricing, but also as a soldering pick to hold tiny balls of gold solder to make jewelry.
Why do you choose to work with pencils and, specifically, Blackwings?
Blackwings are one of the few pencil brands that still offer a pure graphite without any plastics. This is essential for high heat soldering. The jewelry industry does sell titanium soldering picks, but I find gold solder will occasionally stick to them creating a smear of extra solder. Blackwing graphite has perfect adhesion to my chip of solder without it hanging on when I place it at the hot seam of my work.
What other tools are essential to your process?
Jeweler’s torch, charcoal blocks, pickle pot, high heat tweezers, micromotor handpiece, polishing lathe, microscope, and the list goes on. My favorite part of being a jeweler is the incredible amount of specific jeweler’s tools. Next to my Blackwing collection is my jeweler’s hammer collection.
How do you overcome ______ block? Writer’s block, artist’s block, etc.
Whenever I seem to hit a slump of amotivation or staleness, I step back and visit my tools. Without fail the feel of a fine tool in my hand sucks me into my next project. Before I know it, sun’s gone down and I’m late for dinner. It is so important to get the tools that feel right and inspirational. Another reason I choose Blackwings is the feel of the wood in my hand. The balance and smell of the cedar.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of my instructors at the jewelry academy where I studied observed how I tend to rush through things like I’m being timed on production. She gave me two bits of advice on this, “It takes as long as it takes” and “Be optimistic”. This really stuck with me and helped me appreciate the beautiful process of creation. I also find now my soldering is always successful when I am simply ‘optimistic’.