Order Victoria's Russian Filigree DVD and Learn this Exquisite Technique

Also available, Victoria Lansford's Russian Filigree Powdered Solder & Supplies

Technically, filigree means anything, cast, handwrought, or otherwise that has delicate swirls. The kind of filigree I do is known as Russian filigree, or open back filigree.

I build the frame from 18K gold or sterling silver wire and make the tiny "filler" wires from fine silver (.999% pure silver) for flexibility and contrast. I shape and cut each individual wire to tension fit it within the frame so that I can turn the piece over with the wires still in place and solder from the back. This method preserves the integrity of the wires' patterned edge.

There is much filigree on the import/tourist market from Mexico and Israel. What makes mine different, besides the less traditional designs, is the way I use the "filler" wires. In the faster methods a whole section of frame is simply filled in with a tightly packed coil and flooded with conventional solder. For me, sculpting each section is like shading in a line drawing. I don't plan out that part of the design ahead of time. I just know how it's supposed to feel in terms of negative and positive space and then have fun making pieces to my own puzzle.

People always accuse me of having infinite patience and great eyesight to do this technique. I find it humorous because I don't see myself as patient just determined. I joke I do filigree more by feel than sight, particularly in the wee hours of the night with an impending deadline.


Watch How It's Done


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