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December 1999

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 rigid jewelry.

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

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.


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