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Rumpelstiltskin Gallery

Welcome to the Rumpelstiltskin Gallery.  To see any image full-screen, simply click on the image and then (if applicable) use the zoom tool once the image has loaded.


Artistic Vision:

The idea for this fly came to me several years ago as I was reading the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale to my young son.  Like so many of the Brothers’ stories, Rumpelstiltskin is one of greed, pride, and deception, with a happy yet disturbing ending. 

When I first envisioned this fly, I was focused on the transition from straw to gold.  I saw dozens of strands of straw magically transitioning into strands of gold.  Then I began seeing the materials twisting and weaving together.  The vision began to take shape:  I would disguise a hook in such a deceptive swirling web of gold and straw that fish or human would have to exercise extreme prudence to avoid being lured in by its beauty to its dangerous point.

The hook is spun from three strands of solid 18-karat gold wire to form a triple helix, the barb soldered to one of the strands.  Ostrich herl, partially stripped to look like a grassy stalk with a grain head, is incorporated throughout the fly.  The ostrich herl in the underbody is braided with 24-karat gold wire finer than human hair (25 microns thick), causing each strand to glitter with gold. 

The necklace chain is spun in a Flemish twist of flax and 34g 18-karat gold wire.  The weave begins at the clasps and proceeds downward until the two strands meet.  Throughout the weave, the flax tapers out and is replaced by gold wire, so that by the time the left and right strands meet, they are comprised of only 18-karat gold wire.  These strands envelop the hook and underbody to form the wing.  The materials transition into one another to form one seamless piece.  The straw becomes gold.

The main wing is made from a complex weave of gold and ostrich herl.  Each line’s simplicity becomes infinitely more interesting when several others alternately match and oppose its symmetry, leading the eye deeper and deeper into the piece, at a point threatening visual over-stimulation.  When viewed from different angles, new interactions and patterns emerge, revealing even more dimensions.  In all my flies, I attempt to use deceptively simple materials and schemes to create visual experiences that are much more than the sum of their parts.  This fly perhaps more than any of my others achieves that end.  It is full of subtle complexity.

A much more detailed account of the creative process for this pattern may be found here.  For a more abridged version with more images and less text, begin with The Final Assembly and view the subsequent three pages.

Rear ProfilePrice:  Sold (privately commissioned).  Photographs of this fly, however, are available for purchase.

Edition Size:  One of a kind

Release Date:  1/1/11


Hook:  Metal: 18K gold.  Length: 8.1 cm (3.2 in).  Gape: 1.8 cm (0.7 in).  Three strands of twisted 20g wire.  Barb is soldered onto one strand.

Necklace:  Clasps are enveloped by a Flemish twist of bleached flax that tapers out over the length of each strand.  Doubled strands of 34g 18K gold wire are spliced into each flax bundle at 1” intervals.  By the point at which the left and right strands meet, the flax has tapered out and 32 strands of gold wire make up the entire twist.  The left and right strands are then spliced and Flemish twisted together.  They then transition to a diamond weave as the gold wire envelops the hook.

ThreadPrimrose silk, 6/0.

UnderwingStraw ostrich herl, stripped to within 1/2" of tip and braided with 25-micron 24K gold wire, coiled loosely around the bare hook shank.

Wing:  A twined weave consisting of the following weave and weft:  Weft: Six strands of twisted 26g 18K gold wire coiling counterwound around the underwing.  Weave: Six bundles of 34g 18K gold wire from the necklace chain and straw ostrich herl (stripped as before) twisted together.  The weave bundles are wound opposite the weft strands, enveloping them.

Head:  Prior to the weave enveloping the head of the fly, 34g 18K gold wire is wrapped edge-to-edge over the thread wraps, completely concealing them.

SignatureOn the front side of the fly, just behind the head and between the wing and underwing, a script ‘SD’ handfashioned from 34g 18K gold is mounted, the tag-ends incorporated into the woven wing.


But isn't that hook dangerous to wear?

The point and barb of a hook make it look both beautiful and dangerous.  Remove or cover them, and the hook loses some of that sense of beauty and danger.  In attempting to maintain the natural beauty of the hook while simultaneously protecting its wearer from injury, I make one of three adjustments to the hooks on my wearable pieces, discussed here in order of least drastic to most drastic (the first adjustment was made to the Rumpelstiltskin piece):

1)  Blunt the point and barb just enough that they still look sharp without actually being sharp.  For comparison, they would be about as sharp as the back of a woman's earring.  The wearer of a hook so minimally modified must take care, however, not to snag it on stray objects or clothing, because it could be difficult to extract without damaging either the hook or what it has hooked.  I would not recommend that such a hook be worn over loose-knit clothing.  It would, however, be comfortable to wear over bare skin.

2)  Emboss a faux barb into the hook.  This option is both visually pleasing and more practical to wear than a fully barbed hook.  While this seems like a simple modification, in fact it is not, and it is therefore accompanied by an additional labor charge.

3)  Omit the barb entirely.  This is the simplest adjustment but aesthetically the least pleasing (at least to me - others may see it differently). 

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