Daniel DiCaprio Volume 38.1 Preview

Daniel DiCaprio. With and Against The Grain

MANEATER II BROOCH of dyed holly, silver, 7.6 centimeters, carved and dyed wood with metal wire inlay, cast and fabricated pinback, 2011. Photograph by Taylor Dabney. MUTATION II BROOCH of African blackwood, twenty-two karat gold, fourteen karat gold, silver, 6.4 centimeters, carved wood with metal wire inlay, fabricated pinback, 2008. ORIFICE RING 17 of dyed holly, topaz, silver, 5.1 centimeters, carved wood with inlaid tube set stones, 2009. All photographs by Daniel DiCaprio except where noted.

Wood seems never to have been a favored material for jewelrymaking, even in those regions of the world where its scarcity might reasonably have given it connotations of preciousness. At any rate, precious few examples survive to form a historical record. Perhaps the long practice of treating wood as fuel to be expended for cooking and heating or as material to form the sturdy hafts of workaday farming tools made it seem as common as clay, another material that has never been widely exploited in wearable ornament. Even for Daniel DiCaprio, whose work for the past six years has consisted almost exclusively of carved brooches and earrings, wood has not been a mainstay for its inherent aesthetic qualities or the ease with which it can be turned into jewelry. On the contrary, some of the very properties of wood that can make it a recalcitrant medium have appealed to DiCaprio. “If wood isn’t carved right, if you’re not working with its natural characteristics,” he observes, “it will break. If it gets wet and you haven’t sealed it properly, it will crack. I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve liked some of those limitations.”