Monday, February 10, 2014

Bling! Sculptured Jewelry by Jim Kropp

I love seeing what artists do with the stones they purchase from us.  Jim Kropp took a hunk of  CZ and created this amazing work!  I can't decide which photo shows it better, so here are both. Click the photo for a larger image:

What Jim has to say about his work:
Been sculpting wood, metal and stone for over 65 yrs and still do.  Got tired of big stuff and decided to do miniatures that can be worn.  Everybody else does traditional jewelry, so how about sculptured jewelry.  About 10 yrs ago I saw an article by Woods out of Texas and tried my hand.  Again most people use more traditional settings for carved stones, so I added a more sculptured look to my settings.  Now I also design, carve and cast my settings in Argentium Sterling silver.

All of my work has been self taught.  Having previous experience working with stone and metal, it was easy to scale down to jewelry sizes.  One just has to learn the influences of stone hardness, toughness and grain which point to the proper tools to use.  All of my initial roughing out is done with diamond burs on a rotary grinder.  Then small discs of silicon carbide sandpaper is used with stone softer than 7.  Starting with 200 grit and going to 2000 grit.  Then a final polish with 14000 diamond paste usually finishes the task.  Stones harder than 7 require diamond paste all the way.  My current carborundum (hardness of 9) project fits this harder sequence nicely.  The largest challenge is to uniformly polish each curved facet from edge to edge and top to bottom.  All of my shapes are nonlinear and free formed.  They are generally nonsymmetrical concave surfaces and It takes a lot of practice to freehand polish the bottom of a those holes.

The only advice I can give to someone starting out is first to thoroughly understand all lapidary procedures to make a polished stone.  Then to practice, practice, practice.  Start carving the easier soft materials like wood or calcite and work your way to harder stone materials.  In the process, read every published article around.  If at all possible, contact an experience carver and take some lessons.  Don't know of any schools that teach carving.

My favorite materials are any pretty rocks, be they transparent or opaque.  The light reflected is generally from the front surface showing off the curves.  My favorite metal is silver, but gold, bronze and copper work well depending upon stone color and design.  Since all of my stones have original shapes, all of my settings require original designs.  However, the basket cage is favored to grasp the stone itself.

You can see more of Jim's work here:

No comments: