Seeds of inspiration

Winter is almost here. The November rains have washed out the last bits of colour from the garden. The view from the kitchen window is a quiet composition in a muted palette of greys and browns, perked up, but only slightly, by the dark outline of the bare trees. Under this drab exterior there are countless small treasures waiting to be found; just what a weary metalsmith suffering from craft fair fatigue needs! Armed with a sketchbook and a camera, I am ready to go.

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Drawing helps me focus on the various components of a pod or a dried flower; to analyze and deconstruct it. Sometimes I am more interested in textures, sometimes in the mechanics of a structure. Sketches are a visual reference, and they will also contribute to the design process at a later stage.

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The leaves have fallen, and with the perennials gone to seed, many forms and shapes that were previously hidden are now there to be examined and recorded – at least by the curious jewellery designer.  Seed pods, Nature’s containers, are a great source of inspiration for making boxes and lockets…or your own seed pod-shaped jewellery (made-up botanical names are optional):

D. Bréchault  - Seed Pod (Pisum regalis) - Pendant. Silver, 24k & 18k gold. Fabricated, etched, Keum-Boo.

D. Bréchault – Seed Pod (Pisum regalis) – Pendant. Silver, 24k & 18k gold. Fabricated, etched, Keum-Boo.

D. Bréchault - Seed Pod (Phaseolum sativum) - Brooch. Silver, 14k gold. Fabricated, roll-printed.

D. Bréchault – Seed Pod (Phaseolum sativum) – Brooch. Silver, 14k gold. Fabricated, roll-printed.

There are many processes and techniques available. Some seeds can be cast. Cuttlebone casting will work for things that are hard enough to withstand pressure (acorns, for instance); for the more delicate ones, organic casting is another option. Here is an example:

D.Bréchault - 13 Cherry Tree Branches - Necklace. Silver, patina. Fabricated, cast.

D.Bréchault – 13 Cherry Tree Branches – Necklace. Silver, patina. Fabricated, cast.

1759 13 cherry branches DETAIL - Copy (2)

13 Cherry Tree Branches – Detail

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Natural textures can be reproduced on metal in a variety of ways. Bark translates quite well, thanks to the reticulation technique:

D. Bréchault - Bark - Ring.    Sterling silver, reticulation silver, patina, moonstone. Fabricated, reticulated.

D. Bréchault – Bark – Ring. Sterling silver, reticulation silver, patina, moonstone. Fabricated, reticulated.

Bark - Ring. Detail.

Bark – Ring. Detail.

The intricate network of veins on lacy skeleton leaves can be transferred onto annealed metal with the roll-printing technique (Remember to use only dried leaves so as not to damage the rollers). My favourite are magnolia leaves.

Leaf roll-printed on silver.

Leaf roll-printed on silver.

These small treasures will find their place on the walls of my studio – seeds of inspiration – long after winter sets in and the garden goes dormant.

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Birch bark, magnolia skeleton leaves, Japanese anemone seeds, Japanese lanterns, etc.

So, what are you waiting for? Put on your rubber boots, and go exploring!

10 thoughts on “Seeds of inspiration

  1. artdoesmatter

    Very nice pieces, Dominique. I especially like your seed pods. That roll-printed leaf texture is also gorgeous. I’ve been wanting to play around w/rolling mill textures and haven’t for a long while – but seeing your lovely work is inspiring!

    Reply
    1. metalandmettle

      Yes, roll-printing is quite enjoyable – or should I say addictive? – I have lots of roll-printed sheets of silver that are still waiting to be made into something…
      Thank you so much Patricia!

      Reply
  2. fayegreendesign

    From beginning to end, this blog had me totally captivated. Dominique, reading about your inspiration and then seeing the visual realization of your sketches is almost magical! I absolutely love the tree bark indentation on the silver ring. Do you still teach courses in jewellery design techniques? I imagine you would make a phenomenal instructor!

    Reply
    1. metalandmettle

      Thank you very much Samantha. When I met you at the CCBC workshop back in September, you were very helpful and supportive, and you really motivated me to start this blog!
      Yes, I still teach jewellery. And even after twenty years, I still find it rewarding and inspiring. I am always thrilled to see how enthusiastic and creative my students are.

      Reply
      1. fayegreendesign

        Well I would love to take one of your classes sometime next year. Are they listed on your website? Or is there another location for me to find out about what courses you offer?
        I am so happy to have helped you to start your blog! It’s wonderful to know that I could have played a small part in such an amazing page. You have done an amazing job.

      2. fayegreendesign

        Well let me take a look at the classes first. Sometimes it’s nice to be in a new environment with other students when learning a new technique (for instance I haven’t learnt casting yet), or even developing existing techniques.

    1. metalandmettle Post author

      Mini containers, perfectly designed by Mother Nature, seed pods are an endless source of inspiration for me. I enjoy translating textures into metal, and figuring out the functional side of things (clasps, handles, lids, etc.).
      Thank you very much!

      Reply

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