Handed Down

Sterling silver, copper, brass, cubic zirconia, and found tiny tool set

2 x 1.75 x 0.375 inches

Photographed by artist
Video by Amelia Stanko

Add To Cart


Hand tools have a life, a hidden history left in them by the many hands that have used them. I came upon this tiny decorative jeweler’s tool set while on vacation years ago, and they have sat on my bench until now. This design challenge gave me a great opportunity to create a piece about the importance of hand tools in the history of the crafts. I’ve created a reverential place for the tools to rest; to be protected and cherished. The negative space references the layers of an archeological dig – are these tools becoming obsolete in this digital age? Will there be a time when they exist only as relics of the past? A passing worry, but no. I am confident that the chain of craftspeople stretching back through history, each reaching for his/her saw or hammer, will continue. Long live the humble hand tool.


I have been teaching jewelry/metalwork classes and creating custom mokume-gane wedding rings, jewelry and one-of-a-kind metal art objects since 1991. I earned my Masters of Fine Art in Jewelry/Metals in 1999, training primarily under Helen Shirk and Arline Fisch at San Diego State University. My work in graduate school explored themes of truth and universal emotions using photo-imagery and forms inspired by classical architecture.

In 2007 I was introduced to mokume gane by friends who used the traditional liquid-state diffusion bonding method. I fused and forged out my own billets using their equipment and my own hands and hammer, and also made my own chisels and learned chisel-patterning. In my own studio, I now fuse in an electric kiln and use a hydraulic press to help with the forging. My patterning techniques range from chisel to stamping and twisting. Most find mokume gane to be labor-intensive and finicky, but happily those aspects of it resonate with me.

From 2003-2014 I taught a four-level jewelry/metals course at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

My work has been shown across the U.S. and in international venues such as the Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus in Hanau, Germany.