An Overview of My Work Process and the Materials I Use

What metals do you use?
    I work mainly in sterling silver. Occasionally I will use bronze, brass, or white brass. I have also added gold plating to silver when it was requested.

What is the black or dark part of your pieces?
    The black or dark part is called the patina. On sterling silver, I use a liver of sulfur patina, which darkens the recessed area and adds depth. I will sometimes darken the entire piece, making a black or gun metal color on the surface. When I do that, I will wax the piece to preserve the finish.
    On brass and white brass, I use Jax to darken areas of the piece.

Where do you get your gemstones?
    I look for gems in lots of different places. Some of my favorite places are mineral shows.  I’ve even found stones at a bead show. I have several gem dealers in New York I like to visit. Occasionally I will buy online. I like to look at uncut stones as well as faceted ones because I’m always looking for stones that will inspire my work. I’ve cut and polished a few of the gems I’ve used.

You make such detailed work, what is your process?
    I begin my designs in a sculpting program on the computer called ZBrush. It’s like working in wax or clay but without the mess. Other advantages are that I can zoom in really close to the piece for working on the details and that Zbrush will save all my undos so I can try out many different design aspects and still be able to return to something I liked earlier. This really helps me because I like to play around a lot. I don’t have to worry so much about messing something up that has potential.
    I also own a 3D printer and I print quite a few versions of a piece before I make a final decision about its design. I find it’s very helpful to see a piece actual size to understand what works and what doesn’t work. I work slowly and spent a lot of time on my pieces. The computer and printer facilitate that process.
    To get to the metal, I will either make a mold from the 3D print or I will have the print cast directly. I prefer the direct cast because I think my details come through better. Occasionally, I will have a project I can’t print on my printer. I’ll then use a service bureau in the city which has a printer that can print without supports  to print the piece.
    Once I have the cast, I do my finishing work at Brooklyn Metal Works. I love that place. I knew computers pretty well, but I learned metal at BKMW.

What do you suggest for cleaning your pieces?
    I always begin with Dr. Bronners soap and a soft tooth brush to clean the pieces before I polish. I find that sometimes just washing will take off the dullness on the silver and that’s all I need to do. It also really makes the stones sparkle. If the piece seems to need a polish after washing, then I will use a polishing cloth to preserve the patina. A paste will sometimes remove the patina.