Russian filigree earrings
Sterling, fine silver
2-3/4″ x 7/8″ x 1/2″
I love to create sculptural objects with the technique of Russian filigree. I construct the smooth wire frames then tension fit the tiny scolloped filler wires into the frames before soldering them with a torch. I do this process flat before shaping the Russian filigree into the final form.
I draw the dimensional designs first then mentally unfold the structures, redrawing them as they would be flattened out. I then use these drawings to create paper models to test how the finished structures will bend. My paper models provide templates for the Russian filigree frame designs that will eventually be curved and formed into the finished sculptural pieces.
Because metal and paper have such different properties, flat Russian filigree never mimics exactly the way paper models bend. Part of the creativity for me lies in working with these unexpected adaptations. I find this puzzle approach to forming metal very exciting!
The lines in this series of one-of-a-kind earrings are informed by Art Nouveau design and contemporary Arabic graffiti. The resulting negative spaces as I curve and bend the Russian filigree into tiny sculptures are as integral to my designs as the positive spaces of the wires.