More on Mandala Rings

The Mandala Rings are our first product introduced on the web site. Nearly ten years ago, I made my first series of Mandala Rings and I have not stopped making big bold rings ever since. This new series is very special to me. I have developed six iconic patterns for these rings and they will be anchoring an exciting line using the artisan jewelry processes that anchor the workflow in my shop.

Each ring is composed of individual parts each fabricated by hand. There are two bezels when a gem stone is added, one in 925 sterling silver and another in 750/18K gold. These are made individually and are not cast as multiples. 
The larger 925 sterling silver bezel is individually engraved using one of our rose engine lathes. These engravings are guided by one hand pushing the graver and another turning a hand wheel to move the bezel against the engraver while a follower funs over a pattern creating the design. There is no motor involved in the engraving process. It is a precise and meticulous practice that takes time and patience. If a mistake is made, the bezel must be recycled. It is ruined.

The shanks of the ring are made from seamless solid sterling tubing that is formed and not cast. I like heft and heavy sometimes. With the large bezels sitting on them, hefty ring shanks are a must for these particular rings.

Each of the six Mandala patterns carved in the African Blackwood discs used in the rings is created on a rose engine lathe individually. This too is a time consuming and precise process. The finish seen on the rings comes from the cutter. The work can not be sanded or the effect on the surface that gives the wood its magnificent play of light is compromised. The cutter must be sharp and manipulated to make multiple light cuts rather than a few deep ones. Once the pattern is complete, it is turned very slowly, and is burnished by running it under the cutter without actually cutting for several slow revolutions, a time consuming process.

Putting all the separate components together into a unique jewel is the last and most rewarding step of many that comprise the fabrication of each of these jewels. We present these to you with love and gratitude.

The Rose Engine Lathe

Our MKI Rose Engine Lathe with one of our iconic Mandala Ring Patterns in Quatrefoil.
Ornamental Turning is a specialized art form bearing little in common with plain wood turning. 
The tools used to practice it have much more in common with industrial machinery than plain wood turning, but the two are often associated with each other.
This is an oversimplified comparison because with Ornamental Turning, there is always a twist: an essential complexity of tooling that presents challenging riddles to the users, with tools that are more often as beautiful as they are functional, making possible an infinity of variations on single themes, requiring an astonishingly high level of accuracy that must be used in striving for precision and perfection. This is the machine we use when we create the three dimensional Mandala patterns on our Mandala Rings.
The first time I saw a Rose Engine lathe gently rocking back and forth as a fly cutter carved into a piece of African Blackwood, I was mesmerized. The Rose Engine lathe to my thinking was used for incising lines, engraving into metal for use in watch dials and jewelry and precious metal boxes. That engraving work is most widely known as guilloché. This is something different. It is 3 dimensional.
Ornamental Turning is specialized art form unto itself. 
The tools used to practice it have much in common with industrial machinery and also plain wood turning. This is an oversimplified statement because with Ornamental Turning, there is always a twist: a complexity of tooling that presents challenging riddles to the users, tools that present an infinity of variations on single themes possible, a high level amount of accuracy that must be used in striving for precision and perfection. 
The Rose Engine lathe is the ultimate Ornamental Turning machine.