Filigree is an ancient technique, dating back thousands of years. The tradition is found in most parts of the world except for North America and Australia. My filigree is based on a technique learned in Norway which is based on their traditional silverwork.
My filigree work starts with silver wire. I use a 1 mm thick square wire for the main framework. This gives the filigree added strength as well as structure. The filigree wire I use comes in a long coil of wire which has been manufactured as a twisted and flattened pattern. This is about 0.5 x 1 mm in dimension. It is used in the traditional Norwegian Sølje jewelry.
All the little curls and framework of the jewelry are hand shaped, arranged and soldered a few at a time. Individual pieces take anywhere from 1 hour to as many as 30 hours(butterfly) to make. Some pieces are drawn out on paper beforehand or designed on the computer, but most are made intuitively and created at the bench. You can see a good example of my creative process by looking at The Evolution of the Butterfly page where the creation of the piece shown below is documented.
In 2006, I finally got back to casting in addition to handcrafting filigree. This helps me to overcome one problem I have with handcrafting...I hate making more than one of any design by hand!! Casting makes it possible to do earrings, bracelets or sets which would otherwise become tedious work producing the same pieces over and over again.
I had a number of other jewelry people scoff at my plans to cast filigree, but I've managed to cast it very successfully and now have a line of cast earrings, pendants and bracelets with plans for rings, brooches and some of my own findings for 2007.
About my lapidary work
Again, I'm self taught....I have both flat laps and a Genie upright from diamond pacific. I like to mix stones in different combinations and patterns. I especially like to work with opals and other stones that have 'phenomena' in them such as spectrolite, sunstone, and larvikite. I often use my own cut stones in combination with finished faceted stones.