My design process varies from piece to piece, but usually begins with a single element. This element could be a technique, a shape, a material, or an idea, such as weight or love.
I sketch possible ways to incorporate the element into a piece of jewelry. These sketches become more and more refined and are often followed by hand drafting or rendering in the computer. This is followed by model making.
I use all kinds of materials to make my models, generally starting with something easy to alter such as paper or clay, then moving on to something tougher such as wood, plastic, metal or wax.
From these final models I create a prototype, to understand how the piece will look and feel in metal, and to start breaking down the manufacturing process.
Once I have a final prototype I can design a manufacturing process which will allow me to make the piece efficiently without losing the soulfulness of a hand-made product.
I design virtually all of the metal elements in my products. The one exception is the Token Earrings, for which I purchase the earring posts and keepers from a domestic manufacturer.
I am proud to source out a number of my processes to other manufacturers and makers in the USA. Much of my lost wax casting is done by a very friendly company called Race Car Jewelry, located in Pawtucket RI. I work with a company called Bruns Brothers, located in Grey ME on projects which require waterjet cutting. I occasionally work with my brother Mako Bates on 3-d renderings. I try to mention any sourced process in the product descriptions.
I really enjoy working with metal. Much of my recent work is visually grounded in the process used to create it. Any physical manufacturing process will leave some kind of trace on the material being altered. I have been experimenting with bringing these traces to the forefront so that they can become part of what makes the design beautiful.