Michael David Sturlin is fascinated by the fluid look and feel of crocheted
wire. "When people pick up and feel my jewelry, they're really
attracted to it, and that, to me, is the thing that's ultimately
satisfying," says Sturlin.
This crocheted necklace is created by weaving interlocking loops of 18k
gold wire into a chain, using a needle. Because the chain is built loop
by loop, it is a time consuming process: It can take up to three hours
to crochet one inch.
Annealing the woven necklace can be one of the most challenging steps.
The fine wire is easily overheated and can quickly melt. This very real
danger of destroying a laboriously constructed piece has driven more than
one jewelry artist away from the technique, says Sturlin. "I know
people who tried [gold wire crochet] and they spent eight or 10 hours
creating a piece. Then when they tried to anneal it and finish it, they
melted it." Practice and experi-ence are Sturlin's keys to
heating a piece enough to anneal, but not enough to melt.
For this piece, setting the stones was another design challenge. Because
Sturlin wanted this piece to be reversible, he had to be certain that
the prongs would not catch on fabric or skin when the pendant was worn
stone-side down. "If someone put on one of my necklaces, and it tore
their gown or snagged their sweater, that wouldn't reflect well
on the maker," he says.
To keep the prongs from grabbing, he set the gems low in the settings
and placed the prongs on the stones' corner facets. "The way the
tips are done, it's not some-thing that would catch on fabric—or
on a bare neckline."
crochet to be my meditative activity," says Sturlin. "I
usually don't even pick up the crochet unless I have one or
two hours to just sit and do it. Each step must be done very precisely
so it's uniform, otherwise it will result in a little twist
or kink in the finished chain. And if you start and stop it frequently,
there's a tendency for the loop size and tension to be different
in the area where you started and stopped. It takes a great degree
of focus and mindfulness."
||To keep the prongs from catching
on fabric when the necklace is worn stone-side down, Sturlin set the
gems low in the settings and placed the prongs on the stones'
corner facets. "The prongs are very low profile, and the way
that I file them and push them over for setting, there's nothing
sharp at all," he says.