Meet artist Karen and Jack West of Eggtooth Originals. They are two of over 35 artists showing at the 39th annual Artisans Festival, Thanksgiving Weekend at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. This holiday tradition features Northern California’s finest artisans showing original, hand-crafted art. Meet the artisans and makers. Expect to find the extraordinary at this show. November 29 – December 1, 10am-5pm, $3 daily admission, $5 weekend pass.
I use traditional metal smith techniques to fabricate my unique jewelry pieces, often incorporating metal clay adornments into them. I also use silver (primarily), copper, and bronze metal clay (PMC) to create jewelry that presents textures and forms from nature or my own hand sculpted renditions. I collect and use textures which come from native plants, native trees, shells and other sea-life to use directly or as a basis for creating each piece.
I generally employ three different techniques to create PMC jewelry pieces: 1) I make molds of natural objects and use these molds to transfer the texture and form to metal clay; 2) I impress natural objects directly into the metal clay to obtain texture and form; 3) I sculpt an original, nature-inspired form in polymer clay, make a mold of the polymer original, then use the mold to transfer the form to metal clay. Once formed, I kiln fire the metal clay pieces to obtain the maximum strength possible for the material.
I use a variety of finishing techniques to achieve different effects. Finishing techniques include tumbling for shine; hand-polishing with polishing sheets for polish and shine; brushing using rotary-driven brass brushes for a satin finish; using a torch to patina the metal; using liver of sulfur to patina the metal; and using kiln, torch and burnishing tools to fuse layers of 22K gold onto silver.
I design and build solid wood fine furniture alone in my workshop; I build about 2 dozen pieces of furniture and 6-8 dozen accessory pieces a year. Most of my pieces are shown and sold at Western U.S. art shows, Ashland Art Gallery (Ashland, OR), or from a website I share with my wife (a jeweler); commission pieces average about 25% of my sales. My Scandinavian influenced, original designs are inspired by and follow the teachings of Jim Krenov who lectured my class at Canada’s “Inside Passage School of Fine Woodworking” prior to his passing several years ago. I personally select lumber from Pacific Northwest native or naturalized species that is salvaged, FSC certified, or recycled/repurposed. I choose woods that display a diversity of grain pattern, figure, color, or inclusion character because I believe those features are beautiful and provide aesthetic to my designs.
I am proud to create heirlooms with my own hands and skills. I use machines for efficiency in milling, dimensioning and some finish preparations; all machine work is guided by my hands, not a computer program. I finish shape each component by hand with handplane, spokeshave, or rasp before final surface preparation and finish application.
I use traditional hand-fitted joinery in my work (mortise-and-tenon, hand cut dovetail, and/or doweling); I polish some finish surfaces with my finely sharpened hand tools but since most of my wood selections emphasize complex grain patterns and inclusions, I also use mechanized techniques as I deem necessary. Final hand-rubbed finishes include oil, shellac, wax, polyurethane or some combination thereof on each piece. I inscribe my work with my hand carved mark or “Eggtooth logo” brand.
These are the methods and processes I use for all of my works, fine furniture or personal accessory; this is the only way I work.