Sterling, bronze, copper, 22k, alder, pearl.
Carved and fabricated.
3"H photo:Doug Yaple
Tumulus is a Latin word meaning “small hill”, most often used to describe a mound of earth or sticks covering an ancient grave. To the trained or observant eye the simple mound of a tumulus can hint at a significant interior.
Here's a schematic.
Bronze, sterling, gold, micarta. Fabricated, forged, fused. 5"H
photo: Richard Matzinger
The diversity of form and function within the family of propellers is crazy: They drive everything, from washing machines to ocean liners.
In a building salvage store I came upon a damaged ceiling fan with one broken, sagging blade. I thought of how this damaged fan had once been whole, enjoying a life of service before the catastrophic injury that transformed it from a simple, capable machine into a strangely poignant object. (Beauty and validity in imperfection is nothing new--it's at the heart of the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi.) I then began to consider what a propeller might be like which had been born with a handicap rather than suffer one later in life. The rounded and semi-formed blades of Abbreviated Prop simply become part of its identity: a fact of existence rather than an artifact of trauma.
The "blades" of this brooch (rivetted to the body of the piece) are white micarta, a plastic material used often for knife handles. In fact, I carved them from scraps given me by a knife-maker friend. The outside rind of the pieces had aged to an orange yellow which I found I could approximate by heating the carvings.
Abbreviated Prop hangs on the body vertically but can be displayed as pictured.
Sterling silver, brass, 24k gold leaf, ping pong ball. 2.25"H.
The brooch Sting is part of the Cortex series of pieces that began as an exploration of materials, particularly looking at the strength and resiliency of membranes but the series took on a more personal significance, as I began to experience detached retinas. The ping pong balls respond to heat and I can use the resistance of the air trapped inside to help in forming. Too much heat, though, and they ignite.
The cluster of tubular "cells" were fabricated in sterling, the talon forged from a brass screw and the navel, several cells and the sharp tip of the forged talon are gold leafed.
Sting was purchased by Goshen College in Indiana for their permanent collection.
Bronze, sterling,24k gold, cement, lens.
4.5"H. photo: Doug Yaple
Tel: Anti-War Medal
Tel was built for Anti-War Medals, a traveling exhibition conceived in reaction to our involvement in Iraq. A tel-- the Hebrew word for a small mound or rise -- can be easily dismissed as a simple part of the landscape, but it may be the tip of an archaeological iceberg, containing the covered remains of an ancient town or the only tangible evidence of a vanished society.
I hand-made the peace sign in 24k gold in the sloppiest manner possible (check out the little crack) and then embedded it in a little mound of cement. The aim was to produce a battered--but golden--symbol. I also made a special little chisel that left precise excavation tool marks in the cement: they needed to hold up under the scrutiny of magnification. When you ask people to look closely, things need to be right.
Sterling, 14k rose gold, copper,opal, diamonds. 2.25"W.
photo: Doug Yaple
Cushion is part of the Breach series of jewelry pieces,which included brooches, neckpieces and a ring or two. The jewelry in this series was part of Portals, a larger body of work which focused on openings. Sheets of sterling, 18k or 14k rose gold (poured and rolled in the studio) were spot-heated with a tight flame and, just as the metal would begin to sag, stabbed with a poker. I call this "hot punching". Gold spot-heats more successfully than sterling so the torn holes are more localized and ragged. The sheets can be further refined--especially with the rose gold and the 18k yellow gold--by welding/fusing new gold back into the holes and again forging or rolling.
Sterling, bronze, 14k, 22k. Forged,
fused and fabricated. 4"H.photo:
While wasps and honeybees don't work in the same materials, the hexagonal structure of the cells of a honeybee hive is the same as the paper ones built by their wasp and hornet cousins. The stacked combs of Slab refer more directly to the architecture of a honeybee hive, specifically an image I found of one that had been built out in the open around an outdoor light fixture, rather than tucked away in a crevice or behind a wall. The naked sheets of overlapping wax cells hung like sides of beef in a meat locker and reminded me of a Francis Bacon painting.
Slab began as an entirely different piece. I had built a rather large "comb" of sterling tubes which I tried to convince myself was good. It wasn't, so I cut it up and began seeing how the pieces related to one another. Once the sections were stacked and soldered, I went back and fused little filings of sterling--coarse silver dust-- to the assembly. Fusing temperatures are above those used to solder, so the entire thing could have fallen apart. There was some back-and-forth, re-soldering tubes that fell off and then fusing more filings to the repaired area, but I was surprised that the whole thing didn't disintegrate.
Sometimes you just have to give it a shot.
Slab is featured in the book Art Jewelry Today III Published by Schiffer
Sterling, 14k, 18k, bronze, opal. Fused, fabricated, forged.
Spirals are seductive and elemental. They can be seen as the formal manifestation of the mathematical Fibonacci series and the extension of the Golden Rectangle (also called the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio) which has been considered the benchmark of ideal proportions. Spirals are all around us on both the macro and the micro level. The moonsnail is, in a way, the classic snail, very much like a garden snail in form but much, much larger. When I was a boy growing up on the east coast, a moonsnail was one of the first shells that I ever collected. We called them "whale's eyes". It's kind of an iconic memory and form for me. They also live on the west coast, at the beach down the hill from our house, in fact. That's a nice balance.
Moonsnail is built from sterling sheet, poured by hand in the studio, and fused with sterling filings before forming. The ragged edges were torn while the sterling was red hot.
Sterling, gold, copper, bronze, ping pong ball. 3.75"W
Chang & Eng (collateral)
There are many things that exist in binary tandem. As cells divide, for instance, they are for a short moment, twins.
The Bunker brothers (Chang and Eng) were the "original" Siamese (conjoined) twins, joined at the sternum. Their world was one of permanent proximity: What affected one affected the other. Chang & Eng is part of the Cortex series and like its brothers Sting, Coeur, In & Out and the Spiracle Ring became more personally significant. Like the twins, retinas are a pair and a problem in one eye greatly increases the likelihood of a collateral scenario unfolding in the other. An abstracted "cannula"-- a tool used in eye surgery-- forged in bronze and welded to a gold tip, binds the two celluloid elements.
Balancing a piece of art jewelry so that it sits well on the body (as well as in the hand and the image) can often be a challenge. The rounded organic elements of this brooch made it doubly so. Since there is no telling how the ping pong balls will form, each of these pieces is a truly unique and one of a kind piece of jewelry and art.
Sterling, 18k, brass, ping pong ball, velvet . 2"W
This was the first piece in this series. I was playing with ping pong balls, cutting them and heating them to see what happened. The balls were light yet volumetric and strong (they get whacked around a lot), great attributes for a jewelry material. The high/low of gold and plastic is nice, too.
I initially used the torch but the open flame ignited the celluloid. The fierceness with which the balls burned was astounding. The heat gun worked well but I wanted the effect that only the torch seemed to give so I would touch the flame to the ball and blow, blow, blow before the flames consumed it entirely. Torch-blow, torch-blow. The learning curve was steep, smelly, risky and aerobic. Sometimes it takes persistance to make something spontaneous. The ping-pong balls that survive the perils of the fire become precious.
The similarities in form and nature between the eyeball and a ping pong ball became more personally significant as I began to experience retinal dettachments. It’s a strange coincidence.
Bronze, sterling, copper, ping pong ball, gold leaf, forged, fused
and fabricated. 2"W.
In & Out
Ping-Pong balls come in many colors, the most common being white and orange. I begin by cutting and heat forming them which more often than not leads nowhere. It's an unpredicatable process. But when a ball stretches and crumples in just the right way I have the core of the piece around which I can fabricate more refined elements. The studio floor is often littered with little deflated ping-pong corpses that didn't make the cut.
The frame and container of the in & Out brooch were fabricated from forged bronze which was fused and then forged again. If you look closely, there is a small bit of 24k gold leaf at the point where the siphon tube enters the ping pong ball.
Sterling, 18k & 22k gold, burl
wood. 3.25"h photo: Doug
The Hymenoptera--bees and their kin--are makers, little craftsthings. Bees are wax workers, hornets are papermakers, Mud Dauber and Potter Wasps are the ceramists and the masons. These solitary wasps roll pellets of mud from dirt moistened with saliva that are then used, pellet by pellet, to build little adobe structures. The potter wasp builds an urn shaped vessel that is incredibly similar to a thrown ceramic pot, complete with an out-turned lip.
The little nest on this brooch is fabricated and fused from sterling and gold. Potter is a light and very wearable piece of jewelry. And as a small-scale art object it sits well in the hand.
Sterling, 24k gold leaf.
2.75"h photo: Doug Yaple
Paper wasps and hornets harvest strips of wood fiber from plants, fences, outdoor furniture-any woody thing-- chew it and mix it with saliva to make a cellulose paper that is incredibly strong and durable. After only a single season, the abandoned cells are never used again but the nest can remain intact for years, having another life that stretches way beyond the short lives of its makers. This persistence is testament to their devotion to (or programming for) their craft.
The wood that I carved is from the same chunk of burl as the brooch Potter, but gel-stained. Like its brother, Sleeper Cell is light and wearable.
Sterling, bronze, 22k, 18k, diamond. Fabricated.
photo: Doug Yaple
Vespa.The Italian word for wasp. Vespa scooters were so named for the buzzing sound they make. Pretty obvious where this piece comes from. It occured to me several times while I was working on this brooch, making and adding sheet after sheet of sterling, that my process was not entirely unlike that of the little vespas themselves. Vespa is part of the Hymenoptera series.
Vespa can also be worn at the neck on a chain. The bale (hanging mechanism) is an intrinsic formal element woven in towards the back of the brooch.
Brooch. Bronze, sterling, polyethylene, fossil
shell, pearl. 2.75"w photo: doug
Rime is the thin layer of frost that covers a windowpane, the kind that you rub off with the sleeve of your sweater to get a look outside. That little porthole quickly clouds over with new rime: the view through it is transient.
I like the idea of glimpsing something but not being able to fully engage it, like a frozen pond. The depth of Rime was determined by the distance between the plastic and the shell needed to obscure it enough without hiding it. This brooch is fabricated in sterling with forged bronze with opalized ammonite
Sterling, bronze, 14k rose and18k yellow gold, diamond.
Vacuoles (Naked Comb)
Hand forged and fabricated. A "vacuole" is essentially a walled compartment within a cell.
Bronze, sterling, 14k rose, 18k and 22k yellow gold.
2.25"W. photo: Doug Yaple
There are a group of small solitary wasps that make their living as parasites. Some lay their eggs in the stems or twigs of plants which respond by encapsulating the parasite in a cyst or gall, as an oyster would build a pearl. After the egg hatches and the larva develops into an adult, the newly minted wasp emerges through a tiny hole in the gall. These parasitic inclusions are like small, embedded capsules that can be found when a gall is sliced open.
The wandering edge of Cells is sterling that has been welded to the bronze body of the brooch. This leaves an indistict margin between the two metals. The piece is hollow, built like a very shallow box.
One of my favorite brooches.
Sterling, 14k and 18k yellow gold, snake vertabra,
ruby. 2.5"W. photo: Doug Yaple
I believe that a brooch should be able to successfully function in four scenarios: in the hand, on the body, in the case and in the image. Since I don't want to see the pinstem in any of these instances I take great pains, on these larger more expensive brooches, to hide it. You can just see the very tip on the left.
Bull's Eye (below) was the first piece in the series, Eve, the second. These brooches required a specific mindset on the part of the collector. A schematic of the construction of Bull's Eye can be found here.
Bronze, sterling, 18k. 2.5"W photo: Doug Yaple
Named for the spiines on the cholla cactus, Cholla and it's sister Scylla (below) are a bit of a Fruedian indulgence. The teeth are benign until you reach into the center of the piece. Scylla was the counterpart to Charybdis in Greek mythology.