Meet the Masters: Michael Boyd

by Metalwerx on August 6, 2013

Michael BoydMichael Boyd made his first piece of jewelry at age twelve. Classes in lapidary at a recreation center in his hometown west of Denver, Colorado, reinforced his love of color and design, but, in college, painting and ceramics became his primary focus. He continued making jewelry, and then, he says, “Metalsmithing just sort of took over.”

More than two decades later, Michael is internationally recognized for his stunning, elaborate jewelry and objects that combine hand-cut stones with a mix of metals. Each piece is a distinctive work of art. Stones the general public wouldn’t easily recognize are often the focus of Michael’s jewelry. Smaller precious gems take a back seat and highlight the surprising beauty of agates, jaspers, and rarer rocks such as mookaite and petrified woods.

Michael recently placed second in two categories of the prestigious 2013 Saul Bell Awards, a necklace in the gold/platinum category (currently on the cover of Metalwerx’ Fall catalog), and a letter knife in hollowware/art objects. It was his first attempt to apply to a competition—not bad results for a first timer. “It just sounded like fun and I had a few pieces around,” he said.

Michael’s second place Saul Bell Award winning necklace.

Lapidary became an important aspect of his jewelry when he realized he wanted to make pieces that did not include traditionally-cut stones. “I wanted shapes and forms that fit the metalsmithing I was doing,” he said. Part of the fun of doing lapidary is that he goes prospecting, sometimes taking along pack goats to carry back his stash. He has traveled throughout the country in search of rough: Montana for sapphires, Wyoming for jade, and all over the west for agate and jasper. Early next year he is joining a group of gemologists in Tanzania to mine sapphires and search for other rough gem material.

Ring by Michael Boyd

Michael is always on Metalwerx’ Summer with the Masters series. This year, he returns to teach his popular workshops, “Basic Lapidary” (September 10-12) and “Beyond Basic lapidary: Designing with Stone”(September 16-19). There is always a flurry of anticipation at the studio as volunteers prepare the studio for his return. Scaffolding is erected for the lapidary work stations, plastic sheeting is tacked to walls to protect tools and the big-screen TV, and steps are taken to ensure there is a fresh and plentiful supply of towels for cleanup.

The biggest excitement happens when Michael empties his suitcases of rough. There can be as many as 60 paper plates filled with a rainbow of rough gems for students to work with, including topaz, aquamarine, jade, rubies, tourmaline, crystal, quartz, and more. One can only drool at the selection and dream of the transformation from rough to sparkling beauty.

Students will benefit from learning how to use stone as a means of enhancing jewelry design. Michael has many tips and tricks to share about how to make perfect bezels, to set stones on top of stones, and to add embellishments. “You can buy manufactured findings—and stones– and stick them on your piece of jewelry,” he said. “I’d rather make my own findings and cut my own stones. These [skills] will make your jewelry entirely your own.”

Bracelet by Michael Boyd

Over the years Michael has taught hundreds of students the joys of cutting, shaping, and polishing stone. He looks forward to each workshop because inevitably, someone will ask a question that he’s never before had to answer, or he’ll discover some new and better way to present information. “It’s a constant learning process for me,” he said. “It makes you think.” But the best part of hauling equipment and pounds of rocks to set up shop for a week? “It’s fun.”

For more information, click here or call Metalwerx at (781) 891-3854).

–by Yleana Martinez

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lisa budnick February 9, 2014 at 1:42 am

Dear Mr Boyd
My 83 yr old Dad has just inherited a Lapidary set up from an elderly neighbor here in Australia. I bought him your Cabochon cutting DVD for Xmas and he has learnt so much that he has expressed a wish for some more DVDs especially one for mounting the stones and metal work. Have you any such instructive DVDs or do you know where I could get something similar?
I would very much appreciate your help.
Lisa Budnick
Bega Australia

Richard Rzemien September 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Mr. Boyd,
I recently purchased your DVD on Cabochon Cutting. While watching you mentioned some things I was not able to copy. Diamond grit hand laps, Flat lap with diamond grit. Dressing sticks for the diamond blade and finally the name and company of the trim saw you use. Would you please provide the names of the companies and if I am able to get catalogs.
Thank you’
Richard Rzemien

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