Everybody knows you for your botanical jewelry. Were you always inspired by nature?
Growing up I was constantly outdoors, playing in the woods behind my home in Ohio. My father always had a large vegetable garden and my mother amazing flower gardens. We also had numerous fruit trees including pear, apple and cherry. My parents loved camping and fishing and we spent our summers camping across America. Being outdoors and experiencing nature are both my earliest and fondest memories.
We have heard that while creating your jewelry you use the real leaves and flowers instead of wax models. Is it true? Could you tell more about this process?
Yes, everything I design starts from nature's own creations. We start by making a plaster mold from an actual leaf or flower. The process is similar to lost wax casting, only we use the botanical element itself instead of a wax model. All the pieces are cast by using extreme pressure and heat into models that are embellished with pearls and stones into finished designs. To create the real life effect, the jewelry is hand patinated to achieve the green colour.
Could you name the designers that really affected your creative vision?
René Jules Lalique, Louis Comfort Tiffany and other art Nuevo artists were my strongest influences, more recently Ted Muehling.
Many of your collections are commissioned by the leading museums of the world such as The Victoria & Albert Museum and The National Gallery of Art. How does it feel to look at your own jewelry in these incredibly famous museums?
I'm always humbled by having my work represented in such prestige institutions. My biggest honour was being asked to create a collection from the flowers of the "survivor tree" in the 9/11 memorial in NY. The callery pear tree which was used to cast the Survivor Tree collection was originally planted at the World Trade Center complex in the 1970’s. It was discovered in the rubble weeks after the 9/11 attacks with snapped roots and a blackened trunk. It was the only tree that survived. It was taken to the Arthur Ross Nursery in Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx and nursed back to health.
What materials do you prefer to work with?
I love working in bronze because I'm able to create so many natural patinas, like green for the leaves or brown for twigs. Bronze has a wonderful organic feel to it. I also love using pearls. They are not only beautiful to look at, but also illuminates the wearers complexion.