Spotlight on Hilary Finck's Hand Hammered Collection
The Hand Hammered collection is a true embodiment of Hilary Finck's passion for metalsmithing. Using an array of hammers and dapping tools, she crafts metal into sculptural, organic shapes and dynamic motifs. For Hilary, hammering isn't just a technique; it's a meditative and transformative process.
Almost every creation from this collection boasts hand-hammered elements, adding not only a unique design touch but also ensuring the jewelry's durability and flexibility. This meticulous approach ensures that every piece isn't just handmade but thoughtfully and carefully crafted.
The Hand Hammered collection epitomizes the essence of jewelry essentials. Crafted with versatility in mind, each piece is designed for everyday elegance and wearability. These are certainly not trendy accessories; they're timeless classics that blend with any ensemble, ensuring they never go out of style. Truly, they're the staples every jewelry box needs.
Keep reading this blog post for an interview with Hilary and learn more about how the Hand Hammered collection came to life as well as why it's such a staple for her brand today.
How did your passion for metalsmithing first begin, and how has it influenced the Hand Hammered collection?
HF: During my third year of college, while majoring in veterinary medicine, I took a metalsmithing and jewelry design class just for fun. To my surprise, I fell in love with the craft. The process of forging, forming, and seeing how metal transformed with heat and hammers fascinated me.
I started off creating bold statement pieces, but over time, my style evolved. I first designed the Fringe Chandelier Earrings in the early 2000s, during the initial phase of my business. With their timeless design and appeal, those earrings have remained evergreen throughout the years. The wearable, elegant jewelry in the Hand Hammered collection is a testament to my journey.
How do the organic shapes and kinetic motifs of the Hand Hammered collection reflect your personal philosophy or vision as a designer?
HF: I've always appreciated imperfections. To me, visible hammer marks on a piece showcase the touch of the metalsmith, giving the jewelry a more organic feel. Moving parts in a design captivate me. The ball rivet, in particular, has inspired numerous designs, allowing elements to swing and sway, much like the fringe pieces. There's an allure in jewelry that's interactive – something you can fidget with or keep your fingers occupied. I remember crafting spin rings in the past. Maybe it's time to revisit that idea!
In speaking about the Hand Hammered collection in the past, you've mentioned that hammering feels meditative and transformative. Can you elaborate on your personal connection to the technique?HF: Starting with just a sheet or rod of metal, I get to reshape and transform it right before my eyes using hammers and heat. The repetitive motion of hammering is almost meditative. As I work, the rhythmic hammer blows become my own rhythm, guiding me as I craft each piece.
HF: The time it takes varies with each piece. Hammered chains are the most time-intensive, and, truth be told, I enjoy crafting them the most. Their creation can span several hours, especially for intricate designs.
How long does it typically take to complete one piece from the collection, given the careful consideration and hand-hammering involved?
Fringe pieces also demand a significant amount of time. Crafting them involves measuring, cutting, balling up the ends, hammering them flat, filing, finishing, and then arranging each piece meticulously. Ensuring each fringe is of the right length relative to its neighbor can be intricate work. Earrings present their own challenge: they typically need to mirror each other, unless I'm designing intentionally mismatched pairs!
How do you decide on which specific hammers and dapping tools to use for each piece?
HF: My go-to tool is the planishing hammer, which is a shift from my earlier days when I primarily used a cross peen hammer. For designs like the spike studs, I still rely on the cross peen hammer combined with my sinusoidal stake. However, for most other pieces, the planishing hammer is my preferred choice.
Additionally, I often use the leather mallet. While metal on metal stretches the material, using leather on metal changes its shape without altering its molecular structure, making it perfect for forming without stretching.
With every piece being handmade, how do you ensure consistency while also celebrating the unique character of each item?HF: I have a "recipe book" for all of my hand-hammered pieces. This ensures consistency and eliminates the need to guess measurements, gauges, and other specifics each time I craft an item.
Can you talk a bit about the balance between aesthetics and the functional benefits, like flexibility and strength, that hammering brings to the jewelry?HF: When you hammer metal repeatedly using a metal hammer against a steel stake or block, its molecular structure changes, making it more rigid. This rigidity can be ideal for final pieces to ensure they maintain their shape. But, there's a fine line. Hammer too much, and you risk fracturing the metal, leading to irreparable cracks and fissures. When the metal becomes too rigid to work with, I anneal it. This process involves heating the metal until its molecular structure softens, making it ready for crafting once again.
What challenges, if any, did you face while creating this unique collection, and how did you overcome them?HF: The real challenge lies in finding the time to develop my collection the way I envision it. There are so many more pieces I'm eager to create. Perhaps the solution is to consider hiring a bench assistant in the future.
Do you have a personal favorite piece from this collection? If so, can you share why it stands out to you?
HF: It's a tough choice, but personally, I find myself wearing the Spike Studs, Hammered Bar Necklace, Rivet and Ring Bangle, and Links Necklace most often. My style leans minimalist, and I'm more of a casual dresser.
How do you hope collectors of the Hand Hammered pieces will feel when they wear them?
HF: Wearing these pieces means experiencing artistry that's handcrafted by a real person using time-honored tools and techniques. These aren't machine-made items; they're rooted in ancient and traditional craftsmanship. They not only exude present-day luxury but are destined to be cherished heirlooms of the future.
What care instructions would you suggest to maintain the pristine nature of these hand-hammered pieces?
HF: Avoid wearing the jewelry in hot tubs or chlorinated pools. Always apply lotions before wearing your jewelry to prevent residue buildup. To clean, gently wash the pieces with lukewarm water and a mild soap, using your hands or a soft toothbrush. For storage, keep them in a pouch, box, or bag and away from direct sunlight.
Now that you've delved deeper into the Hand Hammered collection, isn't there at least one piece calling your name? You're bound to love the versatility and everyday wearability of these pieces. Hilary's confident you'll be captivated by the craftsmanship and style each piece exudes. To explore and shop the collection, visit this page.