Craftsman of the Month
Cover of Rock&Gem V1N1 March-April 1971

Eric Imperiale - February 2001 - Pre-Columbian Style Sun Broach

Our February Craftsman of the Month, Eric Imperiale, put a lot of thought into the design of his project. Here, he shares the source of his inspiration, and the steps he took to create this eye-catching piece:

"The sun has been a source of power and awe for thousands of years. For this project, I looked not only to the sky for inspiration, but to the past. Pre-Columbian America has a long tradition of gifted artisans with deep respect of the sun, so I felt it fitting to pay homage to the dynamism of both sun and culture by adapting a sun emblem design."

"I decided the overlay technique would lend itself well to my vision, yet retain a sense of the pre-Columbian aesthetic. I started by drawing the design on paper, making sure to include the stones I was going to use. The finished piece would measure approximately 1-3/4 inches. After I was satisfied with my design, I transferred it to a sheet of 22-gauge sterling silver. I then cut and pierced the different elements of the design, making sure to file and sand as needed."

"My next step was laying out the various components on a sheet of 20-gauge sterling and soldering them. With the soldering completed and the piece pickled, I proceeded by cutting away the excess silver to leave my sun emblem design. After more filing and sanding, I fabricated four sterling bezels for the ends of the largest rays. I also created a hidden bale for the back of the piece, so the viewer's eyes would focus on the sun itself. Once the bale and bezels were soldered and the metalwork was polished, it was time for me to start one of the most enjoyable parts of the project--the cutting of the stones."

"The sun is known for its warm glow, and I wanted to use materials that displayed that characteristic. I also wanted a stone that would show the connection of sun and earth. I felt that carnelian's warm, earthy feel represented the glowing radiance of the sun without being distracting. To complement the carnelian, I decided on California abalone shell. This organic gemstone would represent the connection of sun to life with its flashes of green and brown. The pearlescent pink that dominated complemented the carnelian, and would keep the piece active when worn. I continued by slabbing a chunk of carnelian, grinding, sanding and polishing until I had four 3 mm round cabochons. The abalone shell was cut, ground into triangular pieces, flat lapped, and fitted. The abalone was inlaid with epoxy and the carnelian was bezel set."

"With the piece fully assembled, I added black enamel for contrast and gave it a final polish."


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