Precious Metals & Bench: Metalsmithing
Innovators VI: Michael Good
Adding a new curve to fine jewelry
His jewelry is easy to spot. The sensuous meandering forms
are irresistible. The elegance and balance are captivating. His
artistry attracts the jewelry-buying public; the techniques draw
in other makers. His innovative jewelry has been shown in museums
and fine jewelry stores around the world.
For a long time, Michael Good had a near monopoly on fine
jewelry made with the method known as anticlastic raising. For
those unfamiliar with the process, an anticlastic form is created
by shaping metal with hammers and stakes so it curves in two
opposing directions, like a saddle (see box). Good became a master
of anticlastic raising and used it to develop many complex and
unusual designs. For this contribution to metalsmithing art,
he is a true jewelry innovator.
Where It All Began
As a novice bench jeweler in the early '70s, Good explored
making lightweight tubular forms in silver and gold out of sheet
metal. As he was formulating his ideas, he discovered the work
of Hekki Seppä, a Finnish-born silversmith and teacher who
explored and documented the anticlastic method of working metal.
Good sought out the master at a workshop at the Haystack School
in Maine, beginning, in Good's words, "a friendship and
professional collaboration ... one of the most important relationships
of my career." Good blended his discoveries and artistry
with Seppä's system of metalsmithing to define his vocabulary.
He experimented and pushed and worked and hammered, developing
a new form of attractive, extremely lightweight and structurally
What Makes It Different?
Many aspects set Good's anticlastic raised jewelry apart from
other jewelry. Among them:
It deals in negative and infinite space. While many designs
form closed shapes such as spheres, Good's jewelry celebrates
non-definitive forms and open space. A spiral form, for example,
could continue into infinity.
It celebrates natural forms, but doesn't imitate them. The
anticlastic form is seen throughout nature, in the curled shapes
of new leaves and the petals of many flowers. But Good's designs
could never be described as leaves or flowers. They are abstract,
but strike a note of familiarity that is one of his jewelry's
main attractions to the buying public.
- Each piece is unique because of the slight variation each
form takes as it is hammered by the individual metalsmith.
- It lends itself to continued innovation. Good has been exploring
anticlastic raising and its design possibilities for more than
20 years and continues to see new directions for his work.
- It's perhaps the first jewelry design concept that symbolically
represents chaos theory. One of the theory's tenets is that patterns
form in random, non-linear fashion, rather than in a rational,
easily defined or controlled straight-line sequence.
For Good, the deeper implications of anticlastic raising have
made his life's work more than just banging metal. "These
forms and their many manifestations are intricately connected
to the evolution of the inner structure of our psyche and the
non-rational world of intuition and creativity," he says.
"The combination of this technical and philosophical insight
continues to provide me with a focus for self-understanding and
a purpose for living."
Truly the path through jewelry can lead almost anywhere. The
only limitations are the imagination and dedicated innovation
of the maker.
- Michael Good Designs, Rockport, ME; (207) 236-9619. All designs
© Michael Good
by Alan Revere
Alan Revere is a master goldsmith and director of the Revere
Academy in San Francisco. He will host Michael Good teaching
anticlastic raising techniques during the Revere Academy's Masters
Symposium in April 2000. For more information, call (415) 391-4179
or visit www.revereacademy.com.
||Spirit Sun® pendant illustrates how Good's
jewelry, while abstract, still hints at forms from nature.
|Good's Ruffle earrings and bracelet illustrate
how the jewelry artist uses anticlastic raising as the basis
for complex, elegant, yet essentially simple design concepts.
||Good's rolled torque earrings and neckpiece feature
a twisted pattern that is a form often found in nature.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.