Smoked Salmon is very dear to our hearts and stomachs here at Walker Goldsmiths. Owen is an excellent chef with our backyard “Smoker” and we try to fill it up with Salmon at least once a season. We accomplished that this year and I took the opportunity to become inspired to carve a Salish Salmon Ring that I’ve been meaning to get to for some time now.
I wanted to represent the Northwest Native Salish designs and the flipping liveliness of the spawning Salmon in a 3 dimensional small sculptured ring. People have been after me for some time to make one and when Ramon at the Trumpeter Gallery in La Connor, WA asked me to make a Custom Ring for his customer, I was compelled to “Get to it”!
I had a hard time figuring out just how to wrap a Salmon around a finger and still have it visible from the top of the hand. The whole action on a Salmon is the head and the tail and the middle is just delicious meat!! I didn’t want the interesting parts to disappear around and down the sides of the finger so decided to give it that flipping action that you can see sometimes when Salmon jump out of the water. So I fiddled around with pencil and paper until I came up with a design that would fit. It makes for a kind of short, fat Salmon, but they’re all the more delicious and probably full of eggs.
The first step is drawing the design out on paper and then cutting a wax tube blank to fit the width that I want. Then sizing the wax tube to the desired finger size. I always use wax tubes because it’s the fastest way to go. Lightly sketching the design on the wax with a sharp pencil I then go at it with files to achieve the shape. I call this my “blocking out” stage and this usually takes quite a while and I try to be careful because if I make an error here it’s twice the work to repair and get the perfection my artistic soul needs. I usually stop here for the day and come back to it when I can with a fresh look at where I’m going with it.
Next time I get to it I’m at it with gravers and files carving out everything that isn’t a Salmon! The design of the Salmon is Northwest Coast Salish. This style differs from the more northern Haida and Tlinget design styles which is U forms, ovoids and S forms connected by flowing formlines. While Salish art is different from Northern formline art, it’s done with circles and crescents, it is very pleasing to the eye when done well. It’s a delicate balance of shapes and space. If you want to see more examples of really good Salish style art Google Susan Point and Shaun Peterson for a wonderful eye treat. One of the challenges that I particularly enjoy is to take a 2 D design and turn it into a 3 D sculpture retaining the 2 Dimensional recognition.
Since I really struggled with this design and carving I’m pleased that we’ve got our fat little Lost Wax Cast Salish Salmon Ring now at Walker Goldsmiths that we sell for $ 175 in Sterling Silver and of course, we’ll make it in gold on request.