The use of lasers for jewellery manufacture and repair is fast becoming a matter of routine rather than the exception, as forward thinking designers and jewellers continue to take advantage of the many benefits that the technology brings to the industry.
However, away from the mainstream use of lasers for precious metal jewellery manufacture, artist David Poston continues to draw inspiration from the technology, breaking new ground in the way in which he uses his Rofin StarWeld laser to produce a diverse collection of stunning rings, bracelets, and necklaces.
David’s work is primarily based upon the use of stainless steel and titanium, metals normally associated with the aerospace industry, with only small amounts of precious metals used as embellishment on the finished piece. David’s choice of materials reflects a desire to provide not only a visually attractive piece, but also a tactile experience, with a wide range of different metals, fabrics, and glass beads used in the production of an item.
The intricate and delicate nature of many of David’s designs reflects his depth of knowledge and expertise in the use of the laser for welding and joining. The seemingly limitless capabilities of the laser in David’s hands, provides the inspiration for ever more elaborate and technically challenging designs.
This partnership of craftsmanship and technology is clearly demonstrated in the Stainless Steel Circle Bracelet where a combination of 1.0mm, 0.5mm, and extremely fine 0.24mm diameter stainless steel wires are expertly joined to produce this elaborate design.
David’s wish to incorporate a tactile aspect to his work is evident in his Titanium ‘Donut’ ring. The unusual finish on this piece has been created by making hundreds of individual spot welds using the laser. The result is a colourful and textured finish that reflects some of the key objectives of David’s design philosophy and concept for this ring.
The results of a collaboration with Edinburgh’s Dovecot Studios can be seen in a stainless steel and woven tapestry produced from a series of 0.5mm stainless steel wires, which are laser welded to create a complex 3 dimensional shape. The item is finished with a green woven fabric covering, by weaver Jonathan Cleaver, who was responsible for the design and completion of the textile contribution to the piece.
It is in areas such as this that the laser really comes into its own. In the course of completing the woven covering, one of the weld points became detached. With conventional joining processes, this would have required considerable re-work to remove the weave and allow re-welding, however with the laser the repair was made by just pushing the material slightly to one side to expose the weld position, and the joint was re-made with no damage to the delicate material around the weld area.
The fine and focused precision of the laser is further demonstrated in the range of painted tin bracelets produced by David. Manufactured from everyday and often iconic brand packaging (Fig.4), these 3 dimensional metal pieces have the appearance of being solid, yet they are produced by seam welding the thin edges of the material using the laser. Even on close inspection, there is no scorching or discolouration on the painted surfaces either side of the 1.0mm wide welded seam.
For David, as an artist-jeweller, freedom of expression is essential. The inherent flexibility of the laser, combined with his craftsmanship and skill in manipulating both the metal and laser parameters, has allowed David to turn many of his artistic concepts into reality.