If you’ve never seen mokume gane before it might look like magic to you. It sort of is magic. I love the wood grain look of mokume and making it is one of my greatest creative joys. It is a very old technique that originated in Japan, alongside some of their intense sword making techniques. Have you ever heard of damascus, or pattern welded steel? Damascus and mokume are very similar in some ways, the distinction is that mokume gane is made with non ferrous, and sometimes precious, metals while damascus is made with ferrous metals (metal containing iron).
The technique I use to create Mokume starts with many sheets of at least two different metals. The idea is to create a loose or tight pattern based on the number of layers and how far they are compressed. The sheets (in this case silver and white gold) are stacked together and fused with a torch in a forge/ kiln sort of thing. The process can be very simple but also very very picky. One small bit of dirt left on even one sheet can cause catastrophic cracking later on. Also if you get it slightly too hot the whole pile can melt, forcing you to start over with new metal. A good bond is the goal here so the metals can be seamlessly formed into a final product.
When the metal has fused and is forged out some, the bonds have become stronger and the piece can be patterned. The words mokume gane refer to the wood grain like pattern that emerges from the bonded metals when some of the material is removed. Once carved the lower layers become visible and are pushed up to the surface during the forging to create a flush, detailed pattern.
At this stage I love its resemblance to some ancient artifact of a lost culture. This blackened little slab will now be turned into a pair of wedding bands carved from the same source, a wonderful little metaphor for a marriage itself.
Mille Lacs is a large gem in the middle of Minnesota, a heart of cabin and lake lifestyles. The way the two deep spots turned out like windows really make you want to get a closer look. If you have spent any time in, on or around Mille Lacs then I’m sure you have already fallen under its spell. A beloved spot for any outdoorsy person, this pendant must be calling your name.
The St. Croix River is a dividing line between the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, here in the midwest. The river valley is home to picturesque little towns and dramatic bluffs. State parks are sprinkled all along the river for great camping, hiking, kayaking, boating and more. Have you ever visited?
This ring came from a successful experiment to see if I could follow a river or route’s path to create a unique silhouette that still sits comfortably on the hand. Part of the design sits out over your knuckle while the other side is cradled perfectly in your palm.
The image below is the charcoal black finish for this design. Visit my Shop to order one of your own! It can be made for a range of ring sizes.
This lake has a unique three armed shape that made for an interesting pendant design that its wearers love. The first person that requested this particular lake has a wonderful history that connects her to this amazing place, and I was so happy to be able to bring it to life for her. Lake Itasca is home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River and resides in a Minnesota state park of over 32,000 acres and more than 100 lakes. It is a paradise of hiking, biking, and scenic trails, towering pine forests and waters perfect for kayaking, fishing, and boating. Anyone who loves the outdoors, especially out in the fall months up north, needs to spend time here.
I also just spent the weekend camping in Itasca State Park and loved it. The colors have just started to turn vibrant up north and it was definitely boasting some fantastic scenery despite the stubborn rain clouds. One could easily spend weeks exploring all of the lakes and trails in that park. It is well worth a visit or five. We went kayaking directly on Itasca and visited lakes all along single lane through-road. And while I was too chicken to climb the fire watch tower, I’m sure the views from the top are breathtaking. Even just lounging on the dock and enjoying the crisp fall air would be a great way to spend the afternoon.
If you have ever spent time at Itasca, then I know you’ll wear this with fondness. Find this piece in my Shop.
The Mississippi river crawls down the length of the United States beginning at Lake Itasca and pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. This ring is a great, dramatic vision of the entire river’s journey, and emulates its natural bends and curves while remaining a crisp image within its parallel edges. The Mississippi has been an anchor in shipping and transport through the states but is also the home of a great deal of outdoor fun.
Whether it reminds you of a time you spent on the Mississippi or reflects a long journey you have taken in your own life, this ring is a great reminder of nature’s presence.
Pictured here is the charcoal black option for this ring’s finish. See both in my Shop.