Shade Metals

Species Specific Botanical Jewelry

Australian Pine (Casuarina equisetifolia)

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NATIVE RANGE: Southeast hemisphere

DESCRIPTION: Evergreen conifer, green-grey branches with minute scale leaves, both male and female flowers on the same tree.

JEWELRY: Casts of the tiny female cones with honeycomb texture

Australian PIne, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 110414697 © Colin Young | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Australian PIne, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 110414697 © Colin Young | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Also called the Sea Pine, this drought-resistant conifer loves coastlines. Its native region extends from Australian up though Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, Burma & Vietnam. It has been naturalized on some islands off the coast of Africa like Madagascar and Mauritius. However, where it has been introduced in North and South America it can become an invasive species. It has harmed ecosystems in places like Florida, Texas, Brazil, and South Africa.

Australian Pine, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 93264912 © Jit Anong Sae Ung | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Australian Pine, Casuarina equisetifolia ID 93264912 © Jit Anong Sae Ung | Dreamstime.com.jpg

HEAVY INDUSTRY:
The leaves, bark, cones & seeds of this tree have proven to effectively remove harmful chemicals from the waste-water of textile dyes.

WEAPONS:
The almost 6-foot spear Kaumaile was cut from this tree nearly 900 years ago. Its original owner, the hero Tefolaha, fought with it in Samoa and Tonga until his death. Then it was passed down through 23 generations of his heirs.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

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NATIVE RANGE: Southeast North America

DESCRIPTION: Deciduous conifer, green needle leaves turn orange and fall off in winter,

JEWELRY: Feathery design of the needle like leaves available in sterling silver and rose gold

bald-cypress-trees-ID 70379766 © Huayjean | Dreamstime.com.jpg

bald-cypress-trees-ID 70379766 © Huayjean | Dreamstime.com.jpg

bald-cypress-leaf-ID 129587434 © Diana Coman | Dreamstime.com copy.jpg

This iconic tree of southern swamps has some amazing characteristics. It has aerial roots that stabilize it in shifting water and sand. These roots, called “knees,” reach above the water line and help it to breath in standing water where other trees would suffocate. The bald in bald cypress hints to the fact that its leaves turn orange and fall off before the winter. While it has the pine cones and needles of conifers, it is termed a false conifer because of its leaf loss.

What may be most exciting however is the fact that off the coast of Alabama a hurricane shifted the sands 100 feet down in the gulf of Mexico. This storm uncovered a forest of bald cypress that had been buried for thousands of years. Read more about the story here: An Underwater Forest

Bark (Rhytidome)

Sara & Cesar

DESCRIPTION: The outer most layer of a tree or woody plant, can be paper thin like Birch trees or two feet thick like a mature Redwood tree.

JEWELRY: Rings forged from sterling silver wire to resemble the organic slash pattern of tree bark

willow tree bark ID 67781166 © Linjerry | Dreamstime.com.jpg

willow tree bark ID 67781166 © Linjerry | Dreamstime.com.jpg

wood slice with wounds ID 108309942 © Losmandarinas | Dreamstime.com.jpg

wood slice with wounds ID 108309942 © Losmandarinas | Dreamstime.com.jpg

PROTECTION: The outermost layer of bark that is most familiar to us is a layer of mostly dead cells, called rhytidome, that help support the erect, massive shape of trees.

Bark also provides a layer of protection for the inner workings of the plant. It can keep out insects, fungus, and bacteria that would otherwise attack the fragile living cells in the trunk, branches, or stems. When an insect or a foreign object do pierce the bark, the trees will cordon off the wound. They send more bark tissue to surround the wound where it threatens the plants’ inner layers.

In the slice of wood pictured here you can see several holes surrounded by the darker tissue of the outer bark. When these wounds happened, the tree compartmentalized the damage and continued to grow around it. Tree wounds don’t get better, as they say in the business: trees don’t heal, they seal.

That’s why sometimes it appears that the tree has swallowed ropes, chains, or even an entire bicycle. It simple continues to grow around any damage.

Burclover (Medicago truncatula)

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NATIVE RANGE: Mediterranean region

DESCRIPTION: Low growing ground cover, yellow flowers with obovate trifoliate leaves.

JEWELRY: Intricate sculpture featuring three groups of leaves and a flower, cast in sterling silver.

Burclover, medicago truncatula ID 79144210 © Whiskybottle | Dreamstime.com

Burclover, medicago truncatula ID 79144210 © Whiskybottle | Dreamstime.com

burclover-medicago-truncatula-silver-necklace.jpg

We were introduced to this species from a request for custom work. Our client’s daughter had been working on her PhD by sequencing its genome. It is a widespread type of clover used as agricultural feed in much of Europe and Africa, and it is studied by botanists because it is a model organism.

The parents wanted to surprise their daughter with a gift after she defended her thesis. We hadn’t seen the plant, it is native to the Mediterranean region, and the request was made in late fall so there was no way we were going to find the plant in bloom for several months. We worked closely with the family to find the right photos and approach to making it a unique, wearable piece of art. While we attempted a few carvings, the final version was a 3D printed model that provided both intricacy of design and lightweight, easy functionality.

Burdock, Great (Arctium lappa)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE: Europe & Asia

DESCRIPTION: Tall (up to 10 feet) biennial plant, large alternating leaves, purple flowers bloom from spiky clusters in late summer.

JEWELRY: Sterling silver ring sculpted to resemble the purple flower clusters.

Great Burdock, Arctium lappa ID 121555765 ©  Whiskybottle  |  Dreamstime.com

Great Burdock, Arctium lappa ID 121555765 © Whiskybottle | Dreamstime.com

FOOD: Japanese and other Asian cuisines use burdock root in many ways. It has a crunchy, mildly sweet flavor similar to lotus root, and is put in stews, stir-fry, and pickled dishes.

VELCRO: The Swiss inventor of velcro was inspired by the tiny hooks on the flower spike of burdock. The dead flowers would latch onto his clothing and his dog as they hiked.

silver ring, flower ring, burdock ring, fall jewelry, silver rings.png

This piece was conceptualized a few years back, and we only made a couple prototypes. We love the look of the ring, but it was lacking a certain something. Should we set purple stones in the center? Is it too symmetrical? Or, let us know what you think it needs.

Reorganizing the website has helped us to revisit some old work and we are excited about our goal to finalize this piece by the end of 2019!

Cape Blanco (Sedum spathifolium)

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NATIVE RANGE: Western North America

DESCRIPTION: Evergreen perennial succulent, spade shaped blue-gray leaves tinged with red grow in rosette clusters, yellow flower stalks bloom in late summer

JEWELRY: Rosette clusters are cast in silver and gold, making a variety of one-of-a-kind necklace, earrings, and rings.

Cape Blanco Sedum spathifolium - ID 97311971 © David Ross | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Cape Blanco Sedum spathifolium - ID 97311971 © David Ross | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Most succulents are native to southern Africa, but this one here is a US variety of sedum that grows from British Columbia down to southern California and east to Colorado. It grows slowly, and prefers rocky soils with lots of sun.

This is one of our favorite succulents to work with and we have done several pieces based on its tiny rosettes. My mother helps us grow and rotate out our succulents, so that if we clip a bit of plant to cast it goes back under my mother’s grow lights to recover before we will harvest from it again. She has over 12 of these cape blancos, because we use them all the time.

Cherry, Asian (Prunus serrulata)

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NATIVE RANGE: East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, and parts of India

DESCRIPTION: Small deciduous tree, delicate pink flowers bloom in early spring, smooth bark with horizontal stripes, alternate leaves.

JEWELRY: Casts of pruned branches before they bloom in spring

Cherry, prunus ID 88469727 © Avmedved | Dreamstime.com

Cherry, prunus ID 88469727 © Avmedved | Dreamstime.com

cherry-branch-necklace-prunus-serrata.jpg

TREE DIPLOMACY: The US and Japan began exchanging flowering trees over 100 years ago. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gave the US 3000 cherry trees. Those trees took 8 years to plant in Washington DC and are still commemorated each year with the Cherry Blossom Festival. The US responded in 2012, giving Japan 3000 flowering dogwoods, some of which were planted at a memorial for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

PRUNING: As a tree steward part of my work involves pruning street trees. Trees in urban environments often get too much sun and water, because they tend to grow alone instead of with other trees close by. This means that they grow very quickly, which can effect the long term health of the tree. Pruning helps to control this steroid-like grow, particularly in young trees, which makes them live longer and better able to withstand the hazards of city life - hazards include cars and people breaking off branches, power lines, bikes parked against their trunks which opens the bark up to infection, toxins in the air and water etc.

Early spring is the best time to prune. The trees are just waking up from their dormant state, and they will have the rains of spring and the summer sun to recover from the pruning. We use several different species of branches in our work, but collecting young cherry branches is always one of my favorite foraging tasks.

Clover, White (Trifolium repens)

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NATIVE RANGE: Europe & Central Asia

DESCRIPTION: Low growing ground cover, leaves of three (rarely 4), white or cream flower head, sometimes tinged with pink.

JEWELRY: Mosaic rings featuring several 3-leaf clovers encircling one 4-leaf variety.

Field of Clover, Trifolium repens ID  120519220  ©  Daniil Belyay   Dreamstime.com

Field of Clover, Trifolium repens ID 120519220 © Daniil Belyay Dreamstime.com

Clover of one species or another grows in a variety of ecosystems on every continent except Antarctica. We worked with white clover, because in the Mid-Atlantic region of North America, that’s what we have the most access to. However, regardless of the species, clover plays an extremely important role in the health of the soil, the health of bees and other livestock, and therefore ultimately in our health. You can read more about the agricultural benefits of clover in this blog: Why Clover is More than Just a Lucky Symbol.

Bee on clover, trifolium ID  118760288  ©  Jozef Jankola |  Dreamstimeom

Bee on clover, trifolium ID 118760288 © Jozef Jankola| Dreamstimeom

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: Indian Subcontinent, South Asia to Northern Australia

DESCRIPTION: Colorful pink and purple long-lasting blooms, slender trunks with shedding bark, simple, opposite leaves.

JEWELRY: Casts of bark that sheds in late fall made into bronze earrings and necklaces

Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia ID 34836954 © Twoellis | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia ID 34836954 © Twoellis | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: China

DESCRIPTION: Tall (165 feet) deciduous conifer, bright green needle leaves that turn orange and fall off in winter, male and female cones on the same tree, iconic christmas tree profile

JEWELRY: Casts of the tiny female cones with dimpled wedges

Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia Glyptostroboides ID 64079307 © Chen Li | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia Glyptostroboides ID 64079307 © Chen Li | Dreamstime.com.jpg

dawn-redwood-pinecone-necklace-silver-3.jpg

LIVING FOSSILS: Once thought to have been extinct for millions of years, the dawn redwoods’ closest relatives are the redwoods on the Pacific Coast of North America. Rediscovered in a single forest in central China, they are now grown in arboretums worldwide as a preservation effort. These redwoods only reach about 165 feet high, where their giant cousins on the west coast of North America can reach over 300 feet.

DECIDUOUS CONIFERS: Much like the bald cypress, this tree isn’t an evergreen- its leaves turn orange and fall off before winter.

Dogwood, Magic (Cornus florida urbiniana)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: Mountain Forests of Eastern Mexico

DESCRIPTION: Understory tree known for its spiral blooms that don’t open flat like other dogwoods, white flower bracts are fused at the top

JEWELRY: Statement pendants sculpted by hand to mimic its unique flower

magic-dogwood-mexican-flowering-dogwood-cornus-florida-urbiniana-national-arboretum-washington-dc-optimized.jpg

magic-dogwood-mexican-flowering-dogwood-cornus-florida-urbiniana-national-arboretum-washington-dc-optimized.jpg

We first encountered this tree at the National Arboretum in Washington DC. The flowers are so unique we had to figure out how to recreate them. We made a short video to illustrate the process, each pendant is unique just like the shapes on the real tree. Sculpting Dogwood Flowers

 
magic dogwood blossom, mexican flowering dogwood copy.jpg

Elm, Red (Ulmus rubra)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: Eastern North America

DESCRIPTION: Medium sized deciduous tree with a vase-like profile, leaves are toothy, serrated, and asymmetrical at the base, samara fruit.

JEWELRY: Branches foraged in early spring feature alternating buds, live casts in silver and gold.

elm trees in NYC Central Park dreamstime_xxl_27291728 copy.jpg

elm trees in NYC Central Park dreamstime_xxl_27291728 copy.jpg

IDENTIFICATION: Elms in general are quite easy to identify by their asymmetrical leaves. Notice the bottom of the leaves in this photo, all varieties of elms display this characteristic.

Fig, Common (Ficus carica)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: The Middle East and Western Asia

DESCRIPTION: Small tree or shrub, not growing taller than 33 feet (10 meters), deeply lobed leaves, fluted trunks, and of course, bears figs.

JEWELRY: Hand sculpted, slightly abstract rippled leaves.

fig-tree-ficus-carica-ID  14112219  ©  Verastuchelova  |  Dreamstime.com

fig-tree-ficus-carica-ID 14112219 © Verastuchelova | Dreamstime.com

RELIGION: Humanity began cultivating figs long before most other trees. For this reason, they are a symbol in many religions. Fig trees are mentioned 40 times in the Bible, they are also mentioned in the Qu’ran, while the Buddha achieved enlightenment sitting under a fig tree, and Vishnu was born under one.

fig-tree-ficus-carica.jpg

Gingko (Gingko biloba)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: China, now naturalized nearly worldwide

DESCRIPTION: Large trees reaching up to 115 feet (35 meters), lobed leaves on long slender stalks turn yellow and fall off rapidly in fall.

JEWELRY: Tiny studs depicting the double lobes of the leaf, cast in silver & gold

ginkgo-trees-ginkgo-biloba ID 107012623 © Cj Nattanai | Dreamstime.com

ginkgo-trees-ginkgo-biloba ID 107012623 © Cj Nattanai | Dreamstime.com

SURVIVORS 被爆樹木: Four ginkgo trees survived the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. They were a little over a mile (2km) from the blast site, and although severely damaged, they went on to produce seeds without deformities the following spring. About 160 trees survived the bombing, they are all protected and cared for by the Japanese government as survivors.

LIVING FOSSILS: Ginkgoes are the last living survivors of their group, there is no other plant on earth that is related to them. They are in a division (phylum) by themselves. Believed to have evolved from ferns, they date back to the Jurassic Period over 250 million years ago.

STINKY LADIES: Female ginkgo trees produce nuts that smell like rotting meat, some say rancid butter. This is believed to have once attracted carnivores for pollination. Much like Magnoli trees originally evolved to attract beetles, not bees. Today humans are the number one pollinator for ginkgoes, although this is usually done with cloning and grafting.

ginkgo-trees-ID 117783696 © Tawatchai Prakobkit | Dreamstime.com

ginkgo-trees-ID 117783696 © Tawatchai Prakobkit | Dreamstime.com

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Sara & CesarComment

NATIVE RANGE: Europe & Asia Minor

DESCRIPTION: Low growing perennial shrub that prefers acidic soils, small scale leaves, and pink, purple or white flower stalks

JEWELRY: Flower stalks cast in silver with rose gold accents.

Heath in Goathland England ID 59829986 © David Head | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Heath in Goathland England ID 59829986 © David Head | Dreamstime.com.jpg

These Heather earrings were originally conceived of because my father needed a present for his step-sister and her daughter. He has no patience for gift-giving, and so when I started asking about what kind of jewelry she wears he had very little to offer. Finally it came out that her name was Heather. I got lucky! I told him that her name was a flower and I would do some research and get back to him in a few weeks.

We sculpted them in the 3D software Z-brush. Cesar has all the technical skills, and I have the eye. It can be a nerve-racking process because we sit together and I tell him -do this, change that- until we either get it right or give up for the day.

The final design always makes it worth the trouble. We cast these in sterling silver, and they looked great as they were, but we added the rose gold accents to the depths of the piece to give them even more character.

calluna vulgaris - ID 21693792 © Lejczer | Dreamstime.com.jpg

calluna vulgaris - ID 21693792 © Lejczer | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Hemlock, Eastern (Tsuga canadensis)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: Eastern North America

DESCRIPTION: Evergreen confier with a straight non-forking trunk, green flat needle leaves, small cones.

JEWELRY: Intricate designs of the needle leaves in silver and gold

Eastern-Hemlock-Tree-with-Red-Breasted-Grosbeak ID 57221948 © Brian Lasenby | Dreamstime.com

Eastern-Hemlock-Tree-with-Red-Breasted-Grosbeak ID 57221948 © Brian Lasenby | Dreamstime.com

POiSON: In grade school we learn about Hemlock as the poison that killed Socrates, which is true, but Hemlock the plant is different from Hemlock the tree. European colonists named the tree Hemlock, because the leaves had a similar scent to the poisonous plant they knew from home, but they are actually totally unrelated. Common names can be confusing in the plant world, and are often misleading.

Eastern Hemlock Tree Extinction, Great Smokey Mountains National Forest, NC & TN ID 44230894 © Ehrlif | Dreamstime.com

Eastern Hemlock Tree Extinction, Great Smokey Mountains National Forest, NC & TN ID 44230894 © Ehrlif | Dreamstime.com

EXTINCTION:

In 1951, the woolly adelgid, a pest that attacks the Eastern Hemlock and slowly suffocates it, was accidentally introduced to North America from Asia.  Where it doesn't severely damage the trees in Asia, it kills the Eastern Hemlock that grows up the Appalachian Mountain Range from Georgia into Canada. Read more about the problem on our blog Hemlock Tree Extinction 

Eastern Hemlock Bough, Tsuga canadensis branch ID 29452625 © Melinda Fawver | Dreamstime.com

Eastern Hemlock Bough, Tsuga canadensis branch ID 29452625 © Melinda Fawver | Dreamstime.com

Hen & Chicks (Echeveria shaviana)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: Mexico, though to Central & South America

DESCRIPTION: Low growing succulent with thick blue-gray rippled leaves and a flower stalk that extends a foot above the plant.

JEWELRY: Cast of the rippled leaf edges in bronze and silver, and a 3D printed design of the flower stalk.

Hen & Chicks succulent, echeveria dreamstime_xxl_129471684.jpg

Hen & Chicks succulent, echeveria dreamstime_xxl_129471684.jpg

TAXONOMY: The common name, Hen & Chicks, can refer to several differ species of succulents that botanically speaking may only be distantly related, but share the characteristic of producing small rosette babies near the base of the mother.

echeveria-bloom ID 22056628 © Amansker | Dreamstime.com

echeveria-bloom ID 22056628 © Amansker | Dreamstime.com

echeveria-with-flower-spike-2.jpg

Lavender, French (Lavandula dentata)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: The Mediterranean region, Atlantic islands and the Arabian peninsula

DESCRIPTION: Small shrub with grey-green toothy leaves and purple flowers on spikes, the entire plant is highly aromatic.

JEWELRY: Cuff bracelet in sterling silver that mimics the undulating leaves.

Lavender field ID 42517507 © Monodon | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Lavender field ID 42517507 © Monodon | Dreamstime.com.jpg

ETYMOLOGY: The word Lavender is thought to originate either from the the Latin word- lavare, which means “to wash,” and refers to infusions made from the plant, or from the word- livere, which means “blueish.” Whatever the origin, lavender is still prized for its color and scent.

Lavender leaves ID 14005853 © Jinlide | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Lavender leaves ID 14005853 © Jinlide | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Lavender flower ID 105471048 © Ji Chen | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Lavender flower ID 105471048 © Ji Chen | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: India though to East Asia and down to Australia

DESCRIPTION: Aquatic plant with roots that are embedded in the soil and leaves and flowers that float on the surface of the water

JEWELRY: Rings that feature their unique porous roots.

Lotus Flower Red Lotus Sea Lake Nong Harn, Thailand ID 66187707 © Noppakun | Dreamstime.com

Lotus Flower Red Lotus Sea Lake Nong Harn, Thailand ID 66187707 © Noppakun | Dreamstime.com

FLOWERS: The Red Lotus Sea pictured above is the size of 350 city blocks and it is full of these incredible flowers that close and sink beneath the surface of the water every night, only to reemerge and open again the following morning. Lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam, and has long been symbolic of change and renewal in several Asian cultures.

fried-lotus-root-chips-Japanese-food.jpg

ASIAN POTATO: Lotus root is a tuber vegetable, and like potatoes they have a crunchy texture and lots of starch. Lotus root is popular in Chinese and Japanese cuisine where it can be fried, boiled, pickled, stuffed, or preserved. From the outside the roots look like elongated potatoes, but when sliced you see an interesting pattern of holes. The plant uses these holes to filter and transport water.

lotus-ring-silver - 1.jpg

Maple, Sugar (Acer saccharum)

Sara & Cesar

NATIVE RANGE: Canada down through Tennessee

DESCRIPTION: Medium sized deciduous tree with distinct five lobed palmate leaves that turn bright yellow and red in fall, winged samaras.

JEWELRY: Miniature and smooth versions of its distinctive leaves.

Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum ID 103162303 © Donyanedomam | Dreamstime.com.jpg

Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum ID 103162303 © Donyanedomam | Dreamstime.com.jpg

SUGAR SHACKS: Harvesting maple sap begins around March, when warm days and cool nights trigger the sap to flow. Every gallon of sap that is collected makes only 1 gallon of syrup. Boiling the sap down to its syrupy sweet form can take all day, at least 12 hours. The sugar shack where this production takes places is often coated in a film of sticky sweetness as the water evaporating from the sap leaves sugary traces on everything it touches.

sugar maple harvest, sugar shack.jpg
maple-earrings-sugar-maple-silver-dangles - 1.jpg