Amanda Dochterman is a creative with a restless soul—at least in this phase of her young life. She's busy exploring, learning and taking it all in. The Palmyra, Mo. native practices the art of hand engraving at Kent Jewelry in Rolla and recently won the Craftsmanship Award at the Missouri Jewelers Association statewide competition, held at Camden on the Lake in Lake Ozark.
Amanda Dochterman is a creative with a restless soul—at least in this phase of her young life. She’s busy exploring, learning and taking it all in. The Palmyra, Mo. native practices the art of hand engraving at Kent Jewelry in Rolla and recently won the Craftsmanship Award at the Missouri Jewelers Association statewide competition, held at Camden on the Lake in Lake Ozark.
The ancient art hasn’t changed too much. Amanda uses hand tools with sharp points and bevels to make an imprint in soft metals to create scenes within an overall theme, using jewels or precious metals to enhance the piece. Her love of charcoal drawing isn’t too far removed from hand engraving. It’s mind-eye-hand coordination, but within the realm of jewelry design—we’re talking minute etchings that could only be possible with optic magnification. She practices on softer metals like copper and bronze, but needs to work with silver and gold for jewelry retail. Does it make her nervous to work with expensive metals?
“A little bit,” she says laughing. “If you slip, there’s ways to try and cover it up, but there’s really no way to get it out, if you mess up. It can be nerve-racking because every line is there forever.”
Amanda’s winning entry is a silver pendent with a 14 carat gold chain. Upon first glance, it’s kind of a yin-yang piece, with two opposing fish (carp) in mid-stroke, forming a circle.
“I had been searching for weeks to come up with something,” she said. I came up with several different things, but they were all too elaborate—taking too much time. Kent Jewelry salesperson, Krista Branson, brainstormed with Amanda to come up with a winning idea. It is the zodiac sign of Pisces, the graphic representation of the constellation, and the constellation itself, spanning the circular piece. The stars are 14 carat yellow-gold, soldered from behind the piece, in their own settings. She humbly says she has a lot to learn, but the piece is intricate. The fish are polished like a mirror. She uses a stippling technique on the background, the texture adding contrast and lending a three-dimensional look to the piece. It also implies movement to the swimming fish. The detail is there, from the scales and structural lines in the fins, to the carp’s whiskers.
“When I soldered the balls (stars) on, I used a laser and polished them separately,” Amanda explained. Holes were drilled in the silver piece, all the way through the metal to serve as a very clean setting for gold balls that were sized differently, reflecting star magnitudes in the constellation in the sky.
She says it took her two weeks to produce the winning entrant, with some long hours rounding out each day.
“The engraving took the longest [time],” she noted.
Amanda works with the piece in a vise to hold it steady. The vise rotates however, so she can hold the hand engraving tool steady while rotating the vise, in turn, moving the piece. Both hands are used in the engraving process.
So what’s the next step for the up-and-coming creative?
“I don’t know,” she stated pensively. I do like jewelry. Engraving is a calming place for me—it’s a relaxing creative outlet.”