Gemstone Inlay/Carving - This art form had its most prominent supporter in Peter Karl Fabergé (1846 -1920) who, besides and beyond his celebrated “Eggs”, left us a rich legacy of carved figurines, each displaying the colorful inlay of various types of gemstones.
The resourceful artisans from Idar-Oberstein though, are to be credited for the popularization of this medium. All life in this Western Germany town revolves around working with semiprecious stones. During WW II, refugees from that region brought their creativity to my original country, Brazil. My talented Uncle Dalton learned directly from them; then later, he taught me. I was certainly helped by my background of more than ten years already working with industrial diamond tools. But it was from him that I learned how to pick the right stone; the importance of generating accurate proportions;
paying special attention to detail work - all of that coming together to give each subject its own ‘personality’. These techniques took over a quarter of a century for him to master.
Making it my hobby for six years and a profession for thirty-plus more, loyal to my personal preferences, I decided early on to focus on feathered wildlife. I’ve been expanding my horizons way beyond South American tropical birds since moving to Florida in 1989. Inspired by the many local species, soon I was doing carvings of birds both large and small and everything in–between; from chickadees and ruby-throated hummingbirds to great blue herons and American bald eagles.
I perform my work with no help from apprentices or assistants. Starting by drawing a simple silhouette on a flat surface of the original slab, a few straight cuts follow. These cuts are done utilizing large lapidary diamond blades (8-18”dia.) in a wet operation, holding the piece against the tool. To do the carving, especially the fine detail work, the process is reversed. Now it’s hand tools (down to dental size) held against the piece. These too, have to be diamond tools due to the extreme hardness involved in most of the stones used (quartz, agate, amethyst, jasper, lapis, etc.). The various parts are bonded at the molecular level using adhesives developed specifically for this medium. The colors in my birds are the result of inlaying several different kinds of natural stones - no paint or dye is added whatsoever. Because of that and also due to the fact that there are no molds involved, each one is an exclusive original.