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Bo Stuck
Excellence Award Winner
Metals and Jewelry
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Metals and Jewelry Design forges original creative expressions through a variety of traditional and contemporary materials and processes.

I consider myself to be an essentialist when it comes to design. By essentialism, I am referring to the philosophical notion that every object has a hypothetical version of itself, otherwise known as a form, and every iteration that we see in the real world is a copy/characterization of that. I believe that all design is reactionary to this concept and that the most successful designs are the most conscious of that.

How does a work of art, craft, or the written word encapsulate this concept? How does one pin down and define this concept through their work? There are no answers to these questions. As an artist and a designer, I can only react to these concepts in an inherently personal way. This exploration is just that: an exploration. To claim any definitiveness in the subjects of aesthetics and philosophy sinks any conversation about them before it has started. That said, I can do my best to illustrate through my work and prose a subjective and individual interpretation of essentialism, and present it for review, reaction, and consideration.

I’m drawn to the sword. Not the sword that has bludgeoned, cut and stabbed for millennia, but the sword that means something outside of its initial purpose. There is a rich tradition of swords being elevated through embellishment and ceremony that is seen throughout the world. I’ve chosen to use the Ottoman Yataghan as the archetype for this project. It has long, sweeping arcs, and a perfectly proportioned silhouette. The lines in the recurved blade relate to one another and follow through to the end of the handle.  It is apparent that this design motif was created with the utmost care and attention to detail. There are numerous examples of these swords being embellished with the finest ornaments, as well as strictly utilitarian examples.

The sword has clearly been designed for a singular purpose, yet almost from its inception, it has been instilled with meaning, styling, and occupations wholly outside of that. It is a perfect representation of an artistic reaction to essentialism. My work is a reaction to and reverence of classic and iconic metal-work from any age. It is an attempt to capture its ethos, but also a deliberate departure, to accept and recognize that no work or feeling can ever be duplicated. I think that it is incredibly important to acknowledge that nothing is created in a vacuum and to be aware that even the icons that inspire future work are subject to individual interpretation.

The choices I made for this sword are based on my educated knowledge of design, and the science within that. For example, I chose my finishes to give a contrast in colors, to maximize the vibrancy of the focal points, and to protect the polish of the blade. All facets of this piece exist to deliberately please the wielder with its design. These elements are, and always will be, subjective. I chose them based on my honest and personal interpretation of what this piece should be and fell upon on my skills as a craftsman to realize it.

What is your most memorable

experience at KCAD?

My most memorable experience at KCAD was taking my first classes in the Metals and Jewelry Design program. I was so captivated by all of the processes and techniques, and getting to work with Phil, Mark, and Jess has been some of the most important learning I've ever done. I had the realization for the first time that this is something I want to do for my career and life. It was truly incredible to find an environment to give me that experience that I had been searching for.

What are your most

notable accomplishments?

My most memorable accomplishment while at KCAD was making an engagement ring for my fiancee. It was truly amazing to use the skills that I have been working on for four years to make something so personal and meaningful. It was a true expression of the height of my abilities, and the hardest work I have done as a student. I couldn't have done it without Mark Baron's help. He worked with me outside of school and helped me finish the piece in a way that only decades of experience can teach. Knowing that her ring is something that I poured myself into is incredibly meaningful to both of us, and it is the most important thing I have made as a student at KCAD.

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