1763

Molten silver photo of metal soft
Every piece is made from raw materials from alloys that I create in my studio

1763 is the temperature that silver melts. Molten silver can be poured into moulds and formed into castings or ingots. At 1763 degrees silver changes from a solid to liquid, from something relatively hard to something that can flow.

1763 is also a somewhat relevant year. As his silversmithing sales lagged, Paul Revere turned to engraving, drawing cartoons, and even dentistry (one can still hear him on his fateful ride upon seeing the British troops movements screaming, “the fillings are coming”). In 1763 alarmed by the actions of the British empire, Paul began to organize other artisan and craftsmen to protest parliament and the crown. Later, he would further venture into politics and engrave the famous depiction of the Boston Massacre.

Artists and art have always had a role on influencing political movements. Art, by its very nature, challenges the status quo by allowing free subjective expression. To the extent that this is true, all art is therefore potentially political in nature.

Unique ring shapes

Dan Balk hand makes unique rings for couples
Hand made unique rings by Dan Balk

I created these triangular engagement/wedding rings for a wonderfully unconventional couple a few years ago.  They had wandered into our old brick and mortar store looking for unique silver and gold jewelry.  I am not always able to meet every patron I create work for, so when I have developed a relationship with the people I am working with, it is very special for me. They were clearly in love, and enjoyed the variety of shapes and styles of rings I offered. After some time, we decided to create a pair of these one-of-a-kind triangular shaped rings set with two lovely checkerboard cut London blue topaz. They loved the experience and, of course, their rings.

Traditionally, rings are round. The shape has symbolism to many. An unending curved line of gold or silver. But what about other rings of different shapes? Can they be comfortable? Are they wearable? Well, of course, the answer to both questions is an outstanding yes. In fact, I find that people respond in curious ways when they discover that not all rings are round. Many are surprised at the comfort a square shanked ring provides. Some women and man have been unable to wear finger adornments because of the shape of their knuckle joints only to find that a ‘D’ shaped ring I create can accommodate their finger better than a round shape. I have heard the squeals of delight, as women have gone through my showcases trying on a variety of unique shaped rings, finding shapes that suit their specific style and anatomy.

It is my pleasure to play with convention and tradition in my art. I love creating these miniature sculptures for body adornment. The interplay and juxtaposition of shape and color are always prevalent in my designs, along with consideration of the overall comfort of the piece. If it was meant to be worn, then it must be comfortable as well as emotionally evocative and aesthetically pleasing.

Preserving cultural heritage

Dan Balk teaches private jewelry classes in his professional jewelry studio in Tampa Florida.
Teaching private jewelry classes from my studio in Tampa Florida.

At my bench, one one one, students can learn the basics of jewellery fabrication including piercing, soldering, and stone setting. These traditional techniques and art they create are thousands of years old, culturally significant and in todays world of computer printed and machine produced jewellry, are in jeopardy of being lost. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of artists drawn to the medium, increasing the desire to learn silversmithing and goldsmithing techniques. Artistically adventurous people come from all over the country to spend time at my bench and learn a foundation in this vast medium. Students are often surprised at the amount of time, labor and care that goes into the fabrication of a single piece of jewelry. I love sharing what I do with people, not only because I am passionate about the art I create, but also because we have an obligation as artisans to share our accumulated knowledge with successive generations of craftspeople.

At any given time

Dan Balk is soldering pendants at his jeweler's bench.
Making pendants using hand fabrication from raw materials in my jewelry studio.

At any given time there can be found a variety of treasures on the soldering board. Tonight I am creating small silver and copper pendants for two special little people who are celebrating their birth. Also there is small trees on the board waiting to have silver ‘roots’ soldered on to the bottom, where they will eventually hold even smaller pieces of turquois and malachite. Another visitor on the board this evening is a 14k white gold Kemp Ridley sea turtle. I love all of nature and sentient beings that share this space with me. This little guy is no exception. He is destined for his forever home in Texas, once I clean up its twin and solder ear ring backs on to them.

 

Trust me. I am a designer

Dan Balk Jewelry Silver Ring with a triangle amethyst and pearls.
Dan Balk Jewelry Sterling Silver Square Ring

Traditionally, rings are round in shape. However, when you examine the human finger you notice that they are not, in fact, round. Our wonderful fingers, which allow us to perform so may tasks- from eating food to expressing our feelings toward the driver who just cut us off, are rounded at the top and bottom and somewhat flat on the sides.

Rings designed with the finger’s anatomy in mind are far more comfortable to wear. They also reduce swelling by allowing for venous return from the finger.

There are other advantages to alternatively shaped rings. Round rings, when set with gemstones on top, become unbalanced and ‘roll’ on the finger. This change of position of the gemstone in relationship to the finger is not only annoying and uncomfortable, but changes the presentation of the gemstone diminishing the overall look of the stone.

Rings should be designed for comfort and style. If the ring is uncomfortable and restricts blood flow it will not be worn. If the jewelry is boring, and doesn’t reflect the wearers personal aesthetic, it wont be worn.

Life is to short for boring uncomfortable jewelry.  Trust me. I am a designer…

My current identity

Dan Balk designer goldsmith working at his jewelers bench
Dan Balk working in his studio at his jewelers bench.

I am a goldsmith, designer, artist, teacher, and father. I design and fabricate every piece of jewelry from raw materials in my studio in Tampa, Florida. Each piece is one of a kind, designed by me. I create my own sterling silver, 18K, and 14K alloys that I fashion, mill, forge, fuse, and braze into miniature sculptures for personal adornment. I select and set each stone, often performing my own lapidary work on select stones. I have complete contact and artistic connection with each piece of fine art jewelry from concept to collection.

Couples Ring Making Class 50% Off Holiday Savings

Dan Balk Jewelry Studio Couples Class Holiday Discount 2018
Couples Private Jewelry Class 50% Off, Hand make silver rings

I am offering a holiday special for the Couples Jewelry Making Class. If you book your private class before December 31st, 2018, I will give you a 50% discount (A savings of $225.) The regular price is $450. With the holiday special, the price for the class is $225. The offer expires 12/31/18. Supplies are included.

I am an artist and designer goldsmith. I am inviting couples to hand make rings in sterling silver. Participants discover new abilities to design and create jewelry under the guidance of a professional jeweler.

This course is a great opportunity for partners to explore each others creative and artistic side as each makes a piece of jewelry for each other. This course concludes with complementary offerings of champagne or wine, as well as fruit and chocolate.

I have opened my jewelry studio for basic silversmithing classes 7 days a week by appointment, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to Noon or 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. No experience is needed. Reservations are required. Each class is approximately 3-4 hours long.

Students learn about jewelry in my fully equipped studio. Each class is private, enabling each participant to learn skills and techniques. Students will go home with their finished rings.

For more information call Nataly Balk at (813) 728-4325 or visit https://danbalkjewelry.com/jewelry-classes/couples-jewelry-class/

Bench Cat Bodhi is celebrating 1 year in the studio

Celebrating 1 year with a studio bench cat named Bodhi
Dan Balk Jewelry and Studio bench cat Bodhi

Bodhi joined the family here at the Greenhaus last year. He kinda likes hanging in the studio when the polishing machines are not on.

So, Bodhi and I have a game that he likes to play. I will put my bristle brush burs away in the holders on my bench, and he will take them out, run and hide them somewhere in the haus.  Not really cool when you are looking for your bristle brush burs, or walking barefoot around the haus. (the shafts of the burs are made of steel and slightly akin to stepping on a lego block, hot coal or other hurtful object.)

Anyway, we like having him around the studio, despite his kleptomaniacal ways, and have taken to growing some catnip among the other organic herbs we grow here. He seems to enjoy being with us while we create art and craft.