As a self-taught metal smith, my journey to becoming a jewelry artist has been as unique as the pieces I design and create.
Growing up in the northeast, I started collecting stones at a very young age. My initial interest, I’m sure, was a direct result of our regular family outings. My parents being the amateur rock hounds and school teachers they were able to teach me about the stones, while enjoying nature. They cultivated in me the appreciation of the different patterns, colors and physical properties which now play such an integral role in my creative process. As early as six, my father, brother and I were already learning how to grind and polish the stones we collected.
At the age of thirteen, I began to experiment with metal, designing settings for my lapidary treasures. My father continued to support my enthusiasm, working with me as I gradually improved on my “fabricating” techniques.
Nature has always been the source of my inspiration; as I grow older, so the interpretation of my surroundings changes. The old saying, “A mountain is just a mountain.” Behind this phrase lies the unspoken belief that at the different stages of our lives, the mountain takes on new meaning for us, our perspectives and understanding broadening as we age. I am no exception. Now my eyes focus on small sections of nature, breaking them down and enjoying the simplicity of their geometric forms. I have grown to appreciate the beauty, and the challenge of discovering these exquisite mini- compositions, and incorporating them into my work.
My constant need for perfection has ironically been both the bane and the catalyst for my artistic growth. How to choose a stone for its inherent colors and patterns, and then create a setting which will not only enhance its unique properties, but result in a harmonious blending of stone and metal. This is, for me, a life-time pursuit, one which will continue to define me as a man, me as an artist.
Mark & Lee-Etta Van de Bogart
P.O. Box 1113, Bronson, FL 32621
web: Mark’s Custom Creations