A challenge from a friend changed the course of one Delaware artist’s work

(Brian Drouin/WHYY)

(Brian Drouin/WHYY)

Anna Biggs is a jewelry artist, and has been making beautiful jewelry for over 20 years, but it was a challenge from a friend that got her started.

“A friend of mine, she said, “Max and I are getting married, we want you to do our wedding bands,'” Biggs said. That one request started her down the road to a career as a jewelry artist.

Biggs had six months and her friends’ ring sizes, the rest was up to her. She decided to use the lost wax method. That process is like bronze casting, only using silver and gold. It starts by carving a model out of wax and then the model goes through a lengthy process where it is cast in the metal of choice. The finished product then gets polished, and the stones set before being complete.

Biggs got a degree in the mechanics of jewelry from the Fashion institute of New York. The rest is history.

She carves out all the elements of her jewelry, whether it’s a charm in a necklace or a part of a pendant. “Its basically sculpture to wear, I consider myself a sculptor.”

Biggs begins with a series of sketches, and from those she begins working on the models. Not all the models will work or make it to the finish line.

Architecture, nature and even animals inspire her. Those inspirations carry over into her carving, itself a very natural process. “I don’t try and control the wax, I’m more like watch it develop.”

When Biggs was a child she learned how some people believe the spirit of a sculpture is within the piece already. “I let the spirit of the thing come out, that’s how I carve.”

She wants to imbue the work with a sense of “energy, excitement, I really want it to be a living thing,” she said.

During the carving process, the piece may morph and change from the original drawing. “That may not have been in the drawing but that’s good, I like that.”

Her style has also evolved and changed, Anna calls it “classic with a twist.”

Her hope is that her work will stand the test of time and can be passed from generation to generation. “It will last 100, hopefully 100 plus years. That’s my hope, that’s my desire.”

Biggs has lots of repeat customers and loves when they come back to tell her how much they love or wear a piece of her jewelry. “I love hearing from them, I love interacting with them.”

One her favorite parts is the design process, designing the next collection. “It’s carving those pieces that to me is the very best.”

Every piece is Biggs favorite piece, “Until I make my new next favorite piece.”

Perhaps her other favorite part is the act of creation itself, that discovery moment, “Seeing what will come out of the wax as I carve it.”

That moment- as Biggs describes it- is like giving birth, “Its like wow look at this amazing thing you know.”

You can find more information on Anna’s website, and you can find her next at the Hagley Museum craft fair on October 15th and 16th.

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