I work extensively with jewelers' wax that is then cast into silver, bronze and gold. The series that I am introducing on this website are pieces that were created for Burning Man, an arts festival in the desert ninety miles out of Reno, NV. These are figurative and whimsical reflecting the yearly themes of the gatherings. They are part of an art project teaching jewelry making on the desert.
My earliest recollection of making something with my hands was around the age of nine. I, of course, made something quite appropriate to a boy of that age, a carved wood dagger and a carved wood derringer (ah, yes Dr. Freud). I got more serious around age thirteen and since then have followed my own eccentric path using ancient materials, techniques, and designs. My favorite artists are unknown and date to the beginning of sculpture and metalwork.
The materials I love working with are ancient ivory dating from three to fifteen thousand years old, amber, gold, silver, and stone. The way I combine them is, in my research, quite unique. I carve ivory and amber into intricate forms. The ivory is then inlaid or overlay with 24k gold used to set gemstones. The designs usually echo early ethnicity from all over the globe. My more modern work is just that, more modern.
I love working with wax since I can subtract and add back, allowing great accuracy and delicacy of form. I spent five years on a series of orchids. I made over fifty models of different taxa, each anatomically correct. These, along with several one of a kind pieces can be seen at: orchid-jewelry.com.
In addition, I work directly moving metal using hammers, punches, and pliers. Working with very thin 24k gold sheet, I created an interesting series of images of Scythian and Northern Chinese animal figures that can be seen at: sumnersilverman.com.
All my work is the work of exploration and love. Enjoy.
Burning Man 2014
Hello! My name is Pan, and I am new to Mansonian Institute, but not new to Burning Man. I am excited to be part of Mansonian Institute this year.
Karen Christians (Suki) and I (Sumner, playa name Pan) have conducted a Pendant Project workshop for BRC Citizens since 2006. It has been our way of gifting and honoring the incredible art at Burning Man by making our own art, small, accessible and wearable.
Beginning with the lost wax method, I hand carve pendants in green wax, and cast in bronze. Workshop participants embellish the pendants employing two-part resin and a variety of colors from dry paint pigments, makeup, sand, playa, ash and even fretted glass from the man burn. Adapting the process from enamel champlevé, a resin piece cures in about an hour. Once hard, the filled backing is water sanded, revealing the outline of the man in all his colorful glory, in fire!
Suki does the organizing, inspiring and provides all the equipment, consumables and color. Together, we have taught hundreds of BRC Citizens and offer this unique workshop to campmates.
This year we honor Caravansary with a camel with attitude and Apsara, a graceful water deity. Photos of each are below.
For our camp, I will be honored to teach members of Mansonian on an as needed basis. Our classes are very popular and were the catalyst for the upcoming book, "Jewelry of Burning Man". I will post a sign for non-camp class sign ups, indicating one hour sessions (10 people each) on Wednesday afternoon.
Can't wait to meet all my new friends.