As a jeweler and metal sculptor, Kirk Lang has spent more than 15 years teaching refined jewelry techniques and creating innovative wearable forms. His approach has created pieces that seamlessly join traditional metals such as gold and silver, with more modern materials, such as meteorite, titanium, and niobium, in innovative and compelling ways.
“The wearable objects I create directly reflect my interest in astronomy and space exploration,” Kirk says in his artist statement. “The shapes, textures, materials and color palette found in the celestial environment are all elements that find their way into my work….The intended result is to make one of a kind wearable pieces that are functional, durable and evoke a sense of curiosity.”
July 27-29, Kirk Lang brings his expertise as well as his distinct vision and precision to Danaca Design for an intensive, three day Cold Connections class, Cold Connections Beyond Rivets—exploring a multitude of non-soldering construction approaches that create unique forms and allow jewelers to use unusual materials in their jewelry. With a wide variety of techniques, students can learn new ways to meld materials together seamlessly that aren’t solderable with conventional metals, including titanium, wood and plastic materials.
Kirk’s mastery of these techniques and his enthusiasm for the craft are inspiring, and make his classes a true pleasure. He recently took the time to answer a few questions about his work using these techniques.
How have cold connections influenced your work? Did gaining these techniques push you towards specific materials, construction methods or design ideas?
Initially, constructing objects via cold connections solved a problem I was experiencing. Before cold joining parts together to build pieces, I would often solder but wasn’t satisfied with the quality of metal afterwards as it would naturally get annealed during the soldering process (especially silver and copper alloys as they are such good thermal conductors). Plus, I would always be left with a lot of fire scale to deal with and at some point I thought to myself, instead of spending that time cleaning up the metal after soldering I’d rather use it designing and constructing new pieces. So, what cold connecting allowed me to do, was keep each part clean and work hardened while I joined everything together to complete any given piece. Essentially one is able to maintain the integrity of the metal during the process and not having to clean up fire scale was a nice added bonus. Then, ultimately I realized it had its own aesthetic and started emphasizing that in my work.
Do you have a favorite cold connections method?
I can’t say I have a favorite but I do love riveting and what the end result looks like when it comes out clean. I also really love making screws or cutting threads into metal. Another process I enjoy, despite doing it less often, is metal inlay. Really, I don’t think there is a cold joining process out there I don’t like!
What are the biggest challenges that new students will have in this class?
The nice thing about learning various cold connections is that it isn’t as daunting as some other processes might be. There is not a lot of risk (regarding the piece) involved so if something goes awry, usually it can be fixed relatively easily. On the flip side however, in order to get optimal results, taking the time to make sure everything is prepared as precisely as possible will show in the final piece…so there can be a slight learning curve. Like in almost every metalworking process it seems, patience is a virtue.
What are your favorite materials to use when utilizing cold connections methods?
My favorite materials range considerably and are most often chosen based on the specific design I am working on. That said, almost always, I like one metal to be hard and the joining metal to be soft. In riveting for example, it is ideal to have say two metal sheets that are work hardened to some degree and then the rivet itself to be annealed. That way, when the rivet is hammered down against the work hardened metals it will mushroom out nicely and work harden in the process…leaving a very strong connection. In my personal work, I often work with titanium so almost any other metal I choose will be softer, which makes cold joining a convenient option. That is why I often use precious metals such as gold or silver as rivets in my pieces. I also really like the tonal contrast and overall aesthetic it imparts.
With Kirk leading the way, Cold Connections Beyond Rivets will teach you how to create flat, domed, tube, hinge and seamless flush rivets. He will also take you through the steps in learning how to use micro tap and dies to create your own custom nuts and bolts and lastly, how to utilize small tabs to fold over and attach one piece of metal to another. As you learn and practice these techniques from a master in cold connections, you’ll discover exciting new directions for your design and construction process for your jewelry and other articulated objects. Learn more at www.danacadesign.com.