Thursday, January 03, 2008

Michael Sturlin

Michael at work
While in Arizona, I made a trip to Scottsdale to visit Michael Sturlin in his home studio. He is known for using crochet gold combined with hand-fabricated settings in his pieces. His approach usually begins with alloying and milling out his own stock. Although it is time-consuming compared to buying stock from a refiner, it is possible to understand the characteristics of various metals and alloys through these processes.
melting the gold in the crucible

I have been having some trouble with cracking as I tried to make gold sheet out of scrap, so Michael kindly gave me an ingot pouring demonstration. Even though it is possible to read about and understand this procedure on without a demonstration, sometimes it is little details that you can pick up while watching that make all the difference.

The classroom

Michael is currently focused mostly on conducting classes and workshops, as well as giving private lessons and consultations. He was in the middle of preparing some samples, using forging as a main technique to form rings and bracelets. He also had forged components that he has students create, encouraging them to think about how they can combine and transform some simple forms and make them into an entire line of jewelry.

forged bracelet samples

forged ring samples, the traditional way to make ring mounts for a solitaire ring

Michael has a strong affinity to Thailand, as his wife is from that country, but also preceeding their relationship Some of the techniques he uses have been influenced by his work with Thai goldsmiths. In THailand, Ganesha is considered to be the patron god of the arts, which is different than the Indian idea of Ganesha as the remover of obstacles. In his studio, Michael has a nice collection of Ganesha statues.

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