Afternoon of a Faun

July 2, 2011

Is this simply some fascination I have with Classic literature? Did eight years of Latin have much to do with this piece of jewelry? As a child, I read endlessly from faerie tales, adventure novels, Greek and Roman Myth, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables and so many other sources. All these are just stories, are they not?

I always found a ring of truth, even in a fable. Particularly the Greek and Roman myths, where the greed, the lust, the weakness of the gods is exposed. These stories talk of the gods, but really, they are talking about humanity. It is far easier to point out someone else’s failings rather than admit your own. Thus the Greek myth talks about those awful gods, and we never have to look at ourselves.

The Faun is a mischievous  trickster of the forest. Half man, half goat, he lives a life of bad behavior. We all have a taste of this, I am afraid. Some more than others…. ahem.

The head is fine silver, which is .999 pure. Hammered from a flat sheet, this face is rather tall relief.

The major sections, such as forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin were punched from the back of the sheet. Then the sheet was turned over, and punched, or chased, from the front. This is called repousse´, I believe. To support the work, it is set in pitch, which is a forgiving and slightly sticky mixture of rosin, beeswax and asphaltum.

Below is the sheet turned for the first time, having been punched out from the back. It’s a good idea to have a sketch or a photograph to work from, so you know where to beat the metal out, and how deep to go.

After the metal has been worked a bit, it workhardens, and is in danger of cracking. To soften the silver, remove the metal from the pitch, clean it completely, then heat it red hot, and dunk it in water to cool. Set it back in the pitch for another go of punch work. In the photo below, you can see the details starting to get defined. Mustache, beard, eyes, etc. The stubs for the horns are beaten up from the back. At this point, I am not sure how the horns will be attached, but I know where they are going to go.

The horns are made using the same process outlined above. Punched from the back. Flipped over and then detailed from the front. The horns will be sawed out of the sheet using a jeweler’s saw. Then fitted to the mask and soldered.

This piece measures 1.9″ tall, fine silver mask, brass horns. This is a brooch or a pin, however you wish to call it.



Pipe Tomahawk Pin

December 23, 2010

Dec 24, 2010.

A pipe tomahawk with a brass head and steel edge is sitting under a Christmas tree as you read this. The handle is pernambuco, encirlced by an engraved  sterling band. Total length is 3″. This is a present for  a woman with Blackfeet ancestry. I feel very honored to make such a gift for her.

Mohican pipe tomahawk

April 15, 2009

This ‘hawk is based loosely on an original Mohican tomahawk. The symbolic heart is part of the interpretation. What struck me working on this piece is the duality of the  peaceful ceremonial pipe, balanced by the bellicose cutting edge.

Steel tomahawk head mounted on Brazilwood shaft with sterling band. Heart pierced through blade, engraved on both faces.


Sword, ca 1400 AD

April 8, 2009


This sword is based on a Western European sword, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, NYC. Seeing this sword in person, I got the chills, as it is simultaneously an object of incredible beauty, and also capable of dealing death very efficiently. The blade is just over 3″ long and made of tool steel, with a shank going up through the handle and pommel. Guard and pommel are sterling silver, and the grip wrap is of brass.

The overall length is 4″, and the thong is waxed linen with sterling clasps.

Tree of life

February 13, 2009

dsc_9477This great old oak tree I have known for as long as I can remember. it has graced this meadow, reaching out, spreading wide, holding its arms open to the skies for a century or more, longer, than I have been around. Through ice storms and high winds, it stands, bending and bowing in the elements. It has been hit by lightning; and like all of us,  its days are numbered. Yet it holds its arms open to the sky.

I am guessing that from ground to top, it is at least sixty feet. It never had to compete with other trees for light, so it spread wide to catch the light rather than reach for the sun. It has the whole sky to itself. I look at the massive branches, some eighty feet long from trunk to tip, and wonder, ‘how, how, how can you hold your arms out for so long, and never touch the ground?’


December 15, 2008

From the a mudbank deep within a Greenland fjord hails this pin, a remembrance of early world travelers, a friend lost, a Viking outpost slowly dying out…..

dsc_8873This pin is made of bronze for the hull, and sterling for sail. The hull is shaped and carved of thick bronze, filed thinner at the keel and stems. One end is sculpted into the feared dragon’s head, and the stern is carved into the tail.

At one point the Vikings traded and warred all over Europe, deep into the Mediterranean, and all the way into North America, via Ireland, Iceland and Greenland.

This is a one of a kind pin, 1 5/8″ long, signed and dated. Made by Tom Curran, 12/15/2008

Jason and the Argonauts

December 9, 2008

I made this pin with ‘artifact’ in mind. Someone may have found such a piece in a discarded toga on the shore of Crete, thousands of years ago. This pin has a body of iron, inlaid with silver sail and 24 carat gold for the hull.


This precious metals are built up wire by wire into a pocket that has been roughed up to receive them. The ‘tooth’ of the roughing really does ‘bite’ into the wire as they are tapped into place. The wires are all pounded flat to really set them into the teeth, then filed flat and burnished smooth.

(click on picture for a larger view)


Here is a close up of the toothing process, where the chisel cuts cover the entire floor of the cavity. The pattern was chiseled three times, each pass at 60 degrees to the other.


Battle Shield brooch

November 30, 2008

Wear this for protection? In this day and age, you must be prepared. This shield uses the Celtic knot as a central theme, inlaid in fine silver, with three finer tringular shapes inlaid in 24K gold. The central boss is brass, and the body of the pin is steel, polished and fire blued. The back of the pin has a sterling catch, and nickel pin for strength. Diameter is 1 5/8″. The steel body will rust eventually, turning slowly brown, with bright highlights from use. The silver and gold will stay bright. This piece should age beautifully.sheild

A dagger to the heart

November 2, 2008

This is a real dagger, though it’s only 3 1/4″ long. The blade is hardened high carbon steel. The grip is horn, the guard and pommel are sterling silver. The sheath is formed steel, very thin, silver soldered together. This is a close copy of an 18th Century dagger. Used for self protection or intrigue, the dagger and sword were part of daily dress. The original has a 6″ blade.


The sheath has a retainer clip to keep the blade in place when not in use. Perhaps you could spear the olive from your Martini with a sinister flourish, just one of thousands of possibilities…


A griffin pin

October 31, 2008

This pin is based on a carving found on an original 18th Century Pennsylvania longrifle, by Christian Oerter. Known as the ‘Griffin gun’ for its spectacular carving, this is a true piece of American folk art. I have made a faithful rendering in sterling of this fabulous carving. This unique piece is engraved, sawn, polished and assembeld entirely by hand.