The Year Of the Tree – Michele White

Everyone see’s the world and whats in it through different eyes. The wonder of art is in the sharing a glimpse into your world. Michele observes trees in gemstones and then incorporates this with details in silver filaments to create delicate formations that picture layered landscapes.

Michele has given us an insight into her love of nature. She has captured the majesty and beauty of trees yet not forgotten the delicate balance of our ecosystem. Jewellery seems to be the perfect medium to do this with. Capturing large in little and the lifespan of a tree echoed in the longevity of metal. The Woodland Trust has published an emergency tree plan urging ministers to more than double rates of planting, protect what Britain already has and work to prevent plant diseases. Michele’s pieces act as an important reminder of the beauty of tree’s and the care we must take of our world.

 

Trees have been an integral part of my artistic practice since my first pieces made as a student at BCU ,then Birmingham Jewellery School. The first piece was designed around a jasper with landscape – like markings. The tree was an image of a weeping willow in a neighbours garden.
Over the years I have more frequently used agates which I call landscape agates. They have very lifelike scenes of buildings and mountains, although these are all caused by natural mineral inclusions, and large areas completely or almost  completely transparent. However there are other gemstones which are often suitable with landscape compatible scenes included , such as opals.
The trees which I make are all taken from images of real trees, trees from magazine photos or sometimes photos I have taken myself. The internet , of course, is also a good source of images.
Most of the pieces have  at least two levels with the gemstone in the background and the tree or trees in the foreground. This may give the feeling of looking through a window, or at a distant vista. The agates help to add to this impression as, viewed through a microscope, the inclusions can be seen to be at different levels in the stone.
Building a tree is very time consuming. The drawing is transferred from my sketchbook to a sheet of metal, usually silver. Each small piece of foliage is cut out with a saw, and each piece of wire which is going to be a bough or a trunk is formed with pliers.
These small pieces are carefully positioned on the drawing on the metal sheet and glued in place. It is very important that the glue should be allowed to dry otherwise when the heat is applied the glue will bubble up and the pieces will move.
 
When I solder I use a small hot flame to achieve the correct heat and conditions, but for fusing I use a large soft flame and must keep good concentration so that as soon as the surface of the sheet of metal begins to melt the heat can be immediately removed.
At this stage it doesn’t look much like a tree but is completely transformed by saw piercing small spaces around the foliage which is the final shaping . The finishing touch is to use oxidation to partially colour the tree before it is riveted into position.

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