I just received my “makers mark” 4/21/16 for my jewelry silver work. It is a custom with silver work (and I assume other metals) that the designer/craftsperson mark the work piece created, with a steel identification stamp. The impression design is chosen to be unique to the artist or craftsman.
I designed a stylized KC as shown in the graphic. It of course represents KautzCraft. The “leg” of the K is merged into the lower positioned back of the C. The logo is also used on the website as the favicon (icon) that is seen on the tab of the browser and in the “favorites” listing of most browsers.
Overall the stamp for silver marking is 2mm tall. That is not very much, as the intention is to identify the artist and not be a design feature of the piece. There is another mark I use and that is “.925” which is a recognized symbol for Sterling silver. (containing 92.5% pure silver). It is 1 mm tall.
The marks have a meaning and are intentional and even required when selling silver and calling it Sterling. I am conforming to the long established standards of quality and tradition. I feel it is an honor to leave my mark in this world.
I recently read an intriguing definition of jewelry that called it “wearable art.” I am sure I have heard or read it many times before, but this time it seemed so appropriate after thinking about it for a while. While the word “Jewelry” may infer the use of jewels or gems, I prefer the broader interpretation of “wearable art”.
Jewelry really is an art form displayed on a person’s body. The wearer is making a statement that “I like this” and I want to share my opinion. There is certainly the opportunity of what and how it is worn will create some interaction and hopefully admiration. As with all forms of art, jewelry makes a visual and sometimes tactile statement about the owner.
Yes, jewelry can be used to flaunt wealth and status, and that too is a public statement. But jewelry is always worn for the personal reasons of the person; Sometimes modest and sometimes boldly. Hang it around your neck or poke it through your lip (or elsewhere) if that’s what you want to do.
What I am discussing is simply the fact that it is art on public display in a very personal way. It has some sort of expressional meaning to the wearer. Jewelry design is often symbolic and is worn as an indication of membership or faith. Design can be recognizable or abstract. There are no rules. Jewelry can be changed to alter the message.
This type of body art is wearable and does not impose the permanence of indelible inking. It allows for a change of mind and expression. It is portable and also transferable. It can easily be passed on through generations of human existence. Dread the thought, it can even be recycled.
For me as a creator, the art is in the design and making. Reasons for design are limitless. My enjoyment is in the freedom and expression, creating from raw materials with the durability to last for a very long time.
I look with wonder at discovered treasure. It is often some form of jewelry. It far outlives the original owner, but quietly says a lot about the person who made it and also the person who owned it. That is close to immortality even without a human name. The piece is what remains tangible and speaks for itself.
For what more grand a result can a local artist strive? There’s no harm in imagining…
The recent article I wrote in my “Dimension Print Studio” website titled, “A Thinly Veiled Secret” is a wake-up call for me about some of my cast silver jewelry designs. I tend to leave heavy sections in pieces where thinning is possible. This ignores some of the rules of fine design. Light weight is one signature of professional work. Massive weight has a place but is generally not desirable in wearable jewelry. Unless you are a “Mr. T” or designing a Super Bowl ring.
Thin, light, skinny design requires more creative care as models become fragile. Especially when hand carving. Thin, three-dimensional printing becomes fragile too. Therefore, I have a habit of producing heavier sections in my models. These thicker castings are a “safer” form of silver work. Functional but less refined, less “fine art”.
Casting silver or any metal is by its nature, a more solid process than working with sheet metal or wire. But it doesn’t need to be massively heavy. Lost wax casting is an excellent media for displaying very fine shapes and detail. Once cast in metal, the fragility is gone.
I took formal lessons in the “lost wax - fine art” design and process for casting silver (or any metal). I learned emphasis on design such as thinning and reducing weight; also, to produce perfect models. Lost wax re-produces very fine details from the model. I occasionally stray from that training. Call it creative license; rules to break at my own risk..
The casting procedure is a production process, separate from artistic design. Thin sections can be managed.
The difficulty with three-dimensional resin master casting models, is thick sections in the model. So why are they there? A very good question. I put them there by design.
So, thickness is an inherent problem with resin curing. It is also a wake-up signal for examining the silver work I design. I can improve my designs. I have no control of the resin. Thin is in, and always has been. Ah-ha! There IS a future for castable resin in my studio.
Lost Wax Casting
For almost six months, I have experimented with three-dimensional printing to produce masters for investment casting of jewelry items. It’s the same process as lost wax casting, except the master model is printed in layers using Ultra Violet (UV) sensitive resin.
The printing process creates outstanding models. It requires skills in making CAD designed models and mastering the combination of printer power and resin exposure. A somewhat technical process but one that produces very detailed models from designs first created in the computer.
The problem is the casting process. The resin does not burn out of the investment the same as wax. It usually leaves resin ash or debris, or damages the internal investment mold surface. Casting results are occasionally satisfactory but far from routinely repeatable and therefore dependable.
KautzCraft Studio continues the thousands of years old process of lost wax casting as our primary process. Wax remains the superior master model material in the “lost wax” casting process. I will continue making and using real wax master models.
Resin printed masters are experimental research at KautzCraft. Items made with resin masters will be labeled as such, not using the term “Lost Wax“ in the product description. They will proudly be labeled as “investment cast” clearly stating using a “Three Dimensional Printing” process.
Three dimensional printed models should not be considered inferior in any way. When the issues with clean casting is resolved, three dimensional printed models will be the dominate high quality process in investment casting. I look forward to when that becomes reality for me.