What exactly is art jewelry? Some jewelry is just too beautiful and too unique to be called anything but art jewelry. Some of it is too precious and/or fragile to wear. And, to me at least, it also means that the piece is designed and handmade by the artist. To me, anyone who can take a sheet of precious metal, and or wire, and create a piece of jewelry from scratch, is a jewelry artist.
Stephen LeBlanc draws his inspiration from the natural world with his line of hand forged jewelry. By concentrating on the transitions within each form, edges become expanding planes and surfaces respond to one another. Each piece is created from one piece of material, which LeBlanc stretches and forms to its extreme limit of plasticity. All of his designs are offered in different metals, hence the different prices.
Ginkgo Necklace & Earrings
Hand forged from one piece of silver, this stunning anticlastic sterling neckpiece has a high-polished and matte finish, and lays gracefully around the neck and culminates into a perfect ginkgo leaf. Matching earrings have integrated ear wire.
$245 - $275
Stephen began working in metal in 1994, during his second semester at Skidmore College. After three semesters of metals classes, he left Skidmore after two years to move on to a more direct method of learning and studying with masters of the craft at Deer Isle and the Haystack Mountain School of Craft in Maine. He enrolled in a session of glassblowing, yet even in his glasswork he was incorporating metal. Following a month of glassblowing, he set up a metal shop - he needed to refine his work and understand why he was so drawn to metalwork.
Unfurling Silver Neckpiece & Earrings
A single hand-forged arc of silver gracefully unfurls through the artist's use of anticlastic raising. Contrasting matte and high-polished surfaces highlight this neckpiece and earring set's beautiful curves. Matching earrings have integrated ear wires.
$255 - $390
Anticlastic Raising is the process of forging a piece of metal so that it has opposite curvature at a given point. The metal is worked in a way that stretches the outside areas of the metal and creates a concave curve, while the center section of the metal is compressed and forced into a convex curve.
Mokume Gane & Anticlastic Twist Earrings
Using the ancient Japanese mokume-gane technique, LeBlanc forges palladium and 18K gold together into these exquisitely patterned earrings. Each earring is given its subtle twist through anticlastic raising. Also available in sterling silver with matte or polished finish.
$180 - $1625
Mokume Gane is Japanese for wood-grained metal - an ancient technique originally used to forge katana blades. Soft metals like copper and silver are pressed together, heated, and rolled to create the distinctive wood grain like pattern.
Following a series of commissions and working in mediums including metals and wood, I was ready to try another avenue to expand my skills. This quest brought me to southern Maine, where I commenced classes at the Maine College of Art. It was there that my metals instructor suggested an apprenticeship at the Ronald Hayes Pearson Studio, and insisted that I apply. Soon after, I was off again to Deer Isle.
During my two years of apprenticeship at the Pearson studio I continued to expand my learning experiences in a variety of media. I explored blacksmithing at Haystack once as a student and the following year as a teaching assistant for master blacksmith Doug Wilson. Haystack Mountain School of Craft has become a foundation for both my art and my life, drawing me back to expand my horizons year after year.
Following my work with Doug Wilson, I was requested as a teaching assistant for master metalsmith Heikki Seppa; the Finnish creator of synclastic and anticlastic raising techniques with metals. I have been blessed with opportunities during my lifetime to learn from true masters of craft who have assisted me in refining my skills, while nurturing my passion for metals and fanning my creative flame.
My work incorporates the forms and essences of the natural world. In observing the interplay of form and function, my goal is to create work that draws people to explore this dynamic interplay. I do not strive to duplicate, but to integrate elements of these organic forms into each one of my pieces.
The medium of metal lends itself to developing these naturalistic forms with the durability and integrity afforded by hand wrought metal. I intend to grab the viewers' interest, to intrigue and coax them into taking a closer look to understand and explore the form.
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