In the Studio: Sculpting Doves with Chase & Repousse

In progress chase and repousse cuff bracelet

As spring finally arrives here in Ohio, my backyard is busy with bird activity, and this influx of nesting and preening has provided ample inspiration for my latest collection of chase and repousse bracelets.
Throughout the pandemic I grew fond of wild birds, as they were among the few living creatures I encountered during the early days of the lockdowns. The slower pace of life during those months – along with the narrowing of my experience of the outside world – allowed me time to study their behaviors.

Two years later, my initial curiosity in the birds has grown into a devotion; I mix my own seed blends to strategically attract the widest possible variety of songbirds and engineer my own feeders to attract the elusive ones such as bluebirds and orioles.   

In my work of early 2020, I explored the theme of birds, but I depicted them as flightless and dying; it reflected my emotions as the world descended into the COVID crisis. Anxious, depressed, and worried about loved ones, I could not see the end of the situation and wrought this despair in my metalwork.

Now, a renewed sense of the preciousness of life – and a return to normalcy – have given me a more hopeful perspective. I am finding delight in the spring activity of the birds as they hurry to build up their energy stores and fortify their nests to welcome new life. I am bringing these notions into my latest collection.

The most recent piece I've been working on is a cuff bracelet inspired by a pair of mated mourning doves living in the trees near my back door. Each evening they come together on my deck to preen. The texture of their feathers as they expand for grooming is stunning – they bloom suddenly like a peony in June. 

I am rendering this pair of doves in fine silver with the chase and repousse technique, accompanied by an etched excerpt of a little poem I wrote about the couple. I am patiently working up the dimension in this piece, knowing that the rendering of the petal-like feathers will be a satisfying challenge. 


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