HB: So how did you end up out west in Colorado and then Santa Fe?
RD: I was a full-time engineer for two years after graduating from college. And then in 1999, I quit to see if I could make my metalsmithing work. I wanted to go out west, and have always been drawn to the mountains. And my grandfather used to live in Colorado. So I packed up Zachery [her car], he's downstairs, with all of my metalsmithing tools, and whatever else would fit and headed to the Rocky Mountains. He’s my boy, Zachery, he’s still the same car I drive today, we’ve been together 24 years now!
HB: Sounds like a major move, not to add packing your life and tools into a car! How did you do it?
RD: You really don't need much to make jewelry the way I do. The jeweler’s saw is the big deal for me, especially since that is what I am known for, my saw work on the back of the pieces. I headed to the mountains, camped out until it snowed, then stayed in a hostel, figured out a place to live and have been making jewelry ever since. My mom and dad always taught me that I could be whoever I wanted to be in life. They taught me to be independent. I didn't know anybody; I just went.
HB: Let's talk about your process. How do you come up with the designs for your pendants when each one is so different?
RD: In many cases, the color and shape of the stone inspire the piece. I first place the stone on my sketchbook and trace around it with a fine pencil. Trusting my instinct, I sketch the first shape that comes to me. It used to be several drawings around each stone, but now I usually draw just one. I feel as though each stone already has a story and I am downloading from Spirit what it wants to be. Then it is my job to create the piece with the upmost craftsmanship that I can.
HB: You mentioned the saw, how do you go about creating the designs on the back?
RD: The sawing technique I use is called piercing. All the designs on the back of my pendants are sawed out and filed by hand. The bezel is a thin piece of silver wire that holds the stone in place, created by bending the wire around the stone. After soldering the bezel in place, I have that area within the bezel to saw. I drill a hole, slip the saw blade through the hole and reattach it to the saw frame. I can then saw designs within the area of the bezel. For stability, each design sawed is created with a separate hole.
HB: What gave you the idea to saw out designs on the back of pendants?
RD: I have always loved hidden symbols and meaning in art. Each piece I create has a story behind it. This is my way of creating more unique and meaningful work. I started sawing out designs on the back of stones years ago while I was still in college. The lines have gotten more detailed and more meaningful over the years.