Our commitment to “green” practices begins with the salvaged birchbark used to create Tessoro jewelry.
Working with a small family owned wood products company in Duluth, Minnesota we are able to access standing dead trees that are marked for cutting; we harvest the bark from these trees, reducing air pollution, as this bark would ultimately be burned at the mills. This bark is carefully selected for interesting surface features, such as the lichens on the bark that provide the color and texture to many of our designs.
Back in the Minnetonka, Minnesota studio the bark is carefully cleaned and stacked under weight to “cure” for 4-6 months before being used. Our “green” practices continue by reclaiming copper from scrapped car radiators. The copper is torn from the casing, sanded and cleaned prior to ending up on the bench for inclusion in Tessoro jewelry designs.
Now we are on to the design process. I like to think of the process not as a means to the end, but a means to discovery, as some of my best designs were born out of what happened on the way. The variations discovered in crafting each design are allowed to happen and are what make each piece truly unique and endlessly interesting.
The selection of the specific bark for each design is very important. The bark then is cut or torn into the shape needed and coated with an acrylic polymer sealing the wood, enhancing the color as well as bolstering the natural durability of the bark. Our pin backs and post earrings utilize two-part epoxy for a very strong bond onto the bark.
For the Etruscan Collection the ancient art of metal leafing is employed. A size is applied to the bark then the whisper thin sheet of 23k gold is dropped in creating a permanent bond on to the bark.
The final touches to many designs include the use of semi-precious gemstones as well as freshwater pearls, and simple hematite or sterling beads to add contrast to the bark. Sterling silver and copper, hand hammered to create subtle nuances and irregularities, lend structure and boldness to other designs.
Tessoro has grown tremendously over the last 20 years, and while I am involved with the creation of each piece of Tessoro jewelry our success would not be possible with out dedicated help. 12 years ago I was able to bring my husband Ken into the business full time to manage sales and operations. I also work with production artists who have made a commitment to learning the non-traditional techniques used in Tessoro jewelry, and to maintaining the integrity and demanding level of fine craftsmanship you expect in each piece.