Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I'm Inspired by Fungus

I try to keep my mind open for possibilities so that I'll recognize potential inspiration when it appears.... 
(photo by Pat Zafian)
like when a friend posted this picture on Facebook.
Back in October, Pat went out of her house, looked down and saw an interesting growth of fungus on her planting bed mulch.
Luckily, Pat has an interest in horticulture and identified the growth as Little Bird's Nest Fungus, or Cyathus striatus.
My reaction was similar to Pat's....
'Oooooh, that's pretty!'
Probably unlike Pat, my next thought was,
'That would be a great design for earrings!'
I like the depth and texture of each cup, and the small 'eggs' (actually, they're peridioles) are a wonderful, almost whimsical detail.
Within a few days, I was at my workbench figuring out my interpretation of the Little Bird's Nest Fungus.
I made the deliberate decision to not look at Pat's photo again as I considered the techniques to use.
Instead, I was more interested in capturing the inspiration and moving it in my own direction.
Brass seemed like the natural choice of metal.
Discs were cut and then textured with one of my old chisels.
After filing the edges to develop some irregularity, the discs were annealed and formed with a series of dapping punches.
Small piles of sterling silver scrap from my workbench were then melted into little balls which were pickled and soldered to the formed discs.
Another pickle soaking and some selective cleaning with my flex shaft and the discs were ready to become earrings. my earrings look like Little Bird's Nest Fungus?
Sort of, kind of.
The cups of the fungus are actually a cone shape.
While I could make a cone shape out of brass, it would require significantly more work, the value of which I would have trouble recouping with a realistic selling price.
This is my interpretation and I'm sticking with it.


  1. Great work as usual! I went to the Main Line Art Show but guess you were not there this year. Will try to get to one of the other places where you have your nice things. Hope you will have a great holiday!

  2. Hi Annika- For a number of reasons, I decided not to do Main Line Art this year. I am over at Wallingford Art Center (through this weekend), at Shop on the Square at the Philadelphia Art Alliance (this Fri., Sat, & Sun) and at Woodmere Art Museum. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts gift shop also carries my work. You can always contact me if you were hoping to find something special. Happy holidays to you!!