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Fresh Shop: AFK Designs

May 24, 2012

by arthurfred handmade and vintage goods

Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a mere handful of months or are awaiting their first sale introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!

My name is Arthur Kemelman and my shop is AFK Designs. I live in Israel, a few miles  from Tel Aviv. While I earn my living as a self-employed academic editor, I also very much enjoy working with my hands. In particular, I love working with wood  — the way it smells and feels, and the way it looks.

Arthur Kemelman

I began turning wood in the 1980s, motivated by seeing my sons playing with horrible plastic tops. I figured something much nicer could be turned from wood. To learn about woodturning , I began hanging around turners in my free time, watching and pestering them with questions. In due course, I bought a  lathe and a book about turning. I cleaned out an old chicken coop in my  yard to house my lathe and began teaching myself how to use it.  There were a few bumps along the way, but after a while I was  producing not only tops for my kids, but bowls, plates and lamps, among other things.

Arthur Kemelman

A couple of years ago, a jewelry-loving friend raised the possibility of turning wood bracelets and inlaying gold leaf into the defects of the wood. The idea appealed to me. I soon began experimenting with gold leaf and found the process fascinating and the results marvelous. I was fashioning a bracelet where gold seemed to flow magically through the wood. Rather than suppressing the naturalness of wood by seeking to hide the knots, inclusions, splits and cracks created by nature and time, I was highlighting them.

Arthur Kemelman

I soon began wondering about the possibility of other materials. The beauty inherent in gem stones came to mind, and a glance at various Internet articles indicated that mineral inlays were doable. Since I had been a rock collector in my youth and had several pieces of lapis and malachite lying around, I began working with them. Later, I added Eilat stone, a turquoise-colored, copper-bearing mineral regarded as Israel’s national stone.  The fusion of the soft strength of magnificently grained olivewood with the  hard crystal strength of a gemstone is not only extremely beautiful, it represents a direction that I intend to explore further in the coming years.

When inlaying the stones, I use one of two techniques, either fragmenting or slicing the stone. To set the stone into the wood, I use instant glue or epoxy. This is followed by rounds of sanding and grinding to bring the stone and wood to as high a polish as possible. Finishing involves several hand-applied coats of lacquer and finally wax.

I try to use found or discarded wood to the extent possible. Indian rosewood’s dark rich brown color is  particularly suited to the  gold leaf, and it’s generally possible to pick up pieces off the street after the city gardeners have been pruning. Olivewood, on the other hand,  is becoming increasingly hard to obtain, and I spend considerable time trying to find pieces that would otherwise be sold for firewood.

I sell my bracelets to individual buyers in the traditional manner, but I very much like my Etsy shop. And the thought  that dozens of people (and hopefully hundreds more!) from around the world are looking at my bracelets is very exhilarating.

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