Shade Metals

Species Specific Botanical Jewelry

Our Process

We work out of our home studio doing all the design, casting, and finishing of the pieces ourselves. We use three methods to create our pieces: some are carved in wax and then molded, some are drawings that we give depth to on the computer and 3D print in wax, while some are cast directly from bits of plants. We generally work in sterling silver, but also in gold and bronze.  

While Sara initiates most of the designs, Cesar pretty much does everything else. He was trained as a pharmaceutical chemist, which makes him comfortable with the equipment and technical aspects of casting- the fire and the acetylene torch, the beakers, and temperature gauges and seemingly endless small specific tools. Check out this post to see the basics of lost wax casting.

Sara is the artist and plant lover. She learned gardening from her mother, who also encouraged her artistry. Her mother would say that Sara started in the plant business when she was eleven years old, because she would walk door-to-door in their neighborhood selling cactus in paper cups for a dollar. Sara built up her childhood bank account so she could buy and propagate more plants.

We welcome input and feedback, and we love doing custom work. If you are interested in a special project, just send us an email or give us a call.  

 

Our Intent

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The research that goes into choosing, designing, and packing our pieces is also an important aspect of what we do. Each piece comes with a card that details something about that species- like its ingenious biological adaptations, its use in industry, or its role in a culture's folklore.

Plants are everywhere, and they are the basis of so much that we have in our world- food, medicine, life... But as humanity moves increasingly into cities, our familiarity with plants may come more from what we see at a Lowe's garden center than from our environments.  

The natural world is beautiful, but it is also complex and delicate, dirty, unfair, breath-taking and random. While we can't capture all of that in our jewelry, our customers receive a piece of art and a little story, and hopefully become a little more connected to the green world around them.

 

Our Partnership

Cesar and Sara met in a Chinese restaurant. Sara had been working in China for a few years when she came back to Virginia to visit. She went to see her old restaurant family, people she had worked with during college, and she walked in to see this guy speaking Mandarin to her old boss. What was this? Another American speaking Chinese- and better than she could after living there for years?  

When she finally moved back to Richmond years later their first dates consisted of beers in the park, bike rides, and Asian food. Then they took a class at the Visual Arts Center and learned the ancient art of lost wax casting together. After several more metal-smithing classes, their hobby grew into a business.  

They have kept this ship sailing for five years now, and they would both agree that working with your partner can be challenging, but when they get it right, it's a lot of fun. 

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