Behind the Scenes: How We Make Our Mokume Twist - W.R. Metalarts

Behind the Scenes: How We Make Our Mokume Twist

Have you ever wondered how we make our signature piece gets made?
It's time for a metalsmithing class!
The story of the mokume twist is really the story of W.R. Metalarts. This small business began in loving partnership between Will and Rosie and has lead to so many beautiful designs over the years. Will brought his metalsmithing skill which he honed at Earlham College and Rosie brought an eye for design to come up with the concept for turning Will's favorite style of metalwork, mokume gane, into a wearable work of art. 


There are many skilled artists all over the world that craft mokume gane into beautiful rings but Rosie wanted to add something extra special to a new piece that they were adding to their collection and it became a W.R. Metalarts original design. By adding the movement of the twist to Will's mokume gane rings it elevated the rings to our signature style!
Here's how we bring this beautiful style to life:
We start by making mokume gane  (you can read more about the history of this technique here). This is a process of fusing multiple layers of alternating types of metal together through eutectic bonds. The metal must be thoroughly cleaned and stacked in alternating types (we use silver and different types of gold). Then it is compressed in a hydraulic press to put the metal under extreme pressure. After that it is heated in a kiln and through the intense pressure and heat the metals fuse together on a molecular level. 
We hammer the billet out or put it in a rolling mill to stretch it out as much as we can. We alternate between hammering the metal and heating the metal to stretch it without breaking the bonds that we created. Hammering makes the metal brittle and likely to crack so every time we hammer it we must then heat it to soften the metal once again. This is a delicate balance of not overworking or overheating the metal to stretch it to the optimal size. 
T hen comes the fun part - patterning the metal! Our woodgrain mokume gane pattern is created by twisting the metal over and over again by hand. It's one of the most labor-intensive metalwork techniques we do for our rings and you would never believe how much hard word goes into creating something so beautiful and dainty! We put the stretched out mokume gane into a vice and heat it while twisting it over and over again until it is perfect. Then we flatten it again and it is ready to get turned into a ring! 
The making of the actual mokume twist is a beloved W.R. Metalarts secret but once we have the intricate twists formed we connect them together and attach the setting. We then etch the mokume gane to bring out the layered woodgrain pattern (you can learn more about etching here). Then we set the stone and the ring is ready to be worn for a lifetime!
Do you have questions about how your ring was made? Leave a comment for us below and we can tell you all about it!


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