Thursday, April 1, 2010

From leaf to metal...

Many of you have asked me how this:

turns into this:

Last summer, a friend commissioned me to make a candle lantern as a wedding gift. I had never worked on anything that large, and so I decided to document the process in pictures. Basically, it's the same process I use for making the Forest Floor jewelry.

I pick the leaves as I walk on our property during the summer and fall. They're pressed and dried between sheets of blotting paper and stored in large frames built for me by a friend. When I want to print the leaves onto metal, first I arrange them on a sheet of copper or sterling silver:

Once I have them arranged to my liking, I run the metal and leaves through a rolling mill.

The intense pressure of the rollers captures even the most delicate veins in great detail. The leaves are destroyed in the process, so every piece is completely one of a kind.

After washing the leaves and sap off the metal, I decide on the general shape for the piece. This usually involves using my jeweler's saw to create detail along the edges, and in the case of the lantern, piercing holes for the light to shine through.

Next, I file the rough edges.

Here are the six panels for the candle lantern laid out in order:

and after the liver of sulfur patina had been applied:

For the lantern, I "stitched" the panels together with sterling silver wire. This technique resulted in a flexible but sturdy construction and a rustic look.

And finally, lights out:

Such a fun project; I learned a lot while making it. And I hope you've enjoyed seeing how leaves give their shape (and spirit) to metal.