Jigsaw to Jewelry: Monoprints and Jewelry from the same Plates

I had the unique experience of being able to be an “art major” during the junior and senior years of high school.  I can remember a semester of print making and how intriguing I found the process.  I got into it big time and pretty soon I was making silk-screen posters.  I had the opportunity to try my hand at every printing technique.  Wood blocks, dry point and chemical etching , monoprints and lithography.  Just writing this reminds as well of he junior high school print shop class where we set type and did letterpress printing.  

Recently, I had the chance to visit my friend and sculptor colleague, John Martini, and his photographer and photo gravure printing expert partner, Carol Munder, at their home and studios in the French countryside south of Paris.  They left on a trip for a week leaving me alone to work in their studios, one of which is a print making shop with a very nice etching press.

I started playing around doing monoprints on acrylic sheet.  I’d brought along some aluminum sheet and tried that too.  Then it occurred to me to cut the aluminum apart an ink the elements separately, put them back together on the press bed and pull  the print.

Wow…what a cool effect and twist on the traditional process.  I’m sure someone somewhere has done it before but it’s still an interesting approach to a traditional technique. 

The Jigsaw to Jewelry workshop explores the technique of making a monoprint from an inked jigsaw puzzle grouping of sawn out plates, one of which is destined to become a wearable jewelry object.

The process goes like this:

  1. Student create a 4”x6” jigsaw image design.
  2. That design is pasted up on a 4”x6” 14g aluminum plate and sawn out with jewelers saw.
  3. The individual sawn plates are then separately chased, engraved, scribed or etched using mechanical or chemical methods.
  4. Each jigsaw element is then inked in monoprint mode or are inked using traditional etching techniques.  
  5. The plates are then reassembled on the bed of an etching press and a print is pulled.
  6. Next the central element of the design and now the print is moved into the process of becoming a pin or brooch.  Each person will have a different approach to accomplishing this step and I will consult to figure the fabrication method that works best.
  7. When the pin is done the remaining plates are cleaned up and mounted to a 4”x6” plywood clock with small tacks leaving the space for the pin to be mounted back into the assemblage.  
  8. You end up with a pin mounted on a unique assemblage plaque to which the pin is magnetically attached and where it lives when not being worn, and a beautiful print that can be framed and hung with the pin.

In this three day class participants will have the opportunity to learn and apply the techniques of sawing, chasing, etching and print making.  And then the conversion of the primary jigsaw element into a wearable jewelry object utilizing, cold connections, soldering and forming techniques.

A Taste of New Orleans in the middle of Wisconsin Farm Country

Tom is bringing New Orleans cuisine to Valley Ridge this year! He’s been makin’ a great Corn Maque Choux for years but the latest version is kicked up a bunch. He’ll also be doing some unique spins on Cajun and Creole cuisine with the “Best of Jazz Fest” food offerings.

So, you can expect Crawfish? Yes! Oysters? Maybe… Shrimps for sure! Laissez les bon temps roulez y’all! (optional meal fee, Saturday, September 8.)

Note: A brief Learn to Saw class will be given for anyone unfamiliar with the jewelers saw. But it is recommended that you learn the use of this marvelous tool before arriving for the class.  You can purchase Tom’s new book and DVD “The Metalsmith’s Workbench: De-Mystifying the Jewelers Saw at thomasmann.com in the studioFLUX section of the site.

About the Instructor

A professional artist for over 40 years, Thomas Mann is best known for his “techno-romantic” jewelry which juxtaposes technological references, forms and construction techniques with romantic imagery. Originally from Pennsylvania, Thomas exhibited his work at Jazz Fest in 1977 and has called New Orleans home ever since.

Over the last few years, he has moved away from his signature techno-romantic design vocabulary toward jewelry designs that are, in some cases, models for large-scale sculpture. He continues to show his work at nationally juried craft and art festivals, in addition to overseeing a jewelry studio, sculpture studio and his retail space in New Orleans, Thomas Mann Gallery I/O. He has also expanded his role as a veteran professional artist to include a focus on education.  He now leads a series of hands-on jewelry making workshops as well as entrepreneurial thinking and tactics for artists in all mediums.