By Erin Dana Balzrette
Chatting with William Clarke Walker III, better known as Skye, it is easy to see how self-assured he is about his lapidary abilities. He is confident, and as one of the best lapidary artists today, he has every reason to be. What makes him even more special is his confidence in other peoples’ abilities; if they strive to work hard as well.
Time and time again, Skye raises the bar showing us that the sky has no limits for him or the lapidary community. If you are planning to attend Quartzite, you can find Skye quite easily, just follow the sound of his guitar and singing.
During my chat with Skye, we discussed the piece featured and his approach to lapidary work.
Erin Dana Balzrette: Where is the material in this cabochon from, and what drew you to it?
Skye Walker: The Polka Dot agate is from Oregon. Keith Dull sent me some chunks and one of the slabs was exceptional; already showing the pattern you see in the cab.
EDB: How long have you been a rockhound and lapidary artist, and what attracted you to cabbing?
SW: Close to 20 years. I started by digging minerals at Topaz Mountain in Utah, and I later learned about and collected Tiffany Stone from the same area. Once I had a good pile of Tiffany Stone, I started looking for ways to cut and polish it, and learning bout lapidary in the process.
EDB: What creative process do you use when creating cabs? Is there any special technique used when creating the ones featured today?
SW: Creatively I prefer to be out of the box in a sometimes unknown territory. This forces me to innovate and problem solve. I want my work to be distinct from others and to stand out as unique and artistic, so I try to push toward contemporary styles and techniques and even into the experimental. The cab featured here was designed to simply frame the beautiful inclusion the drop flame shape evolved from during free-form shaping. Its evolution into the most graceful and pleasing shape within the limits of the material.
EDB: What advice you would like to give new lapidary artists?
SW: Take your time…wait to cut your best material for as many years as you can stand. Be willing to spend higher prices for better material. Don’t start thinking you’ve got it even partially figured out until you’ve cut hundreds of cabochons.
EDB: What is a new cabbing approach that is bringing you great excitement?
SW: In the past few years I have completely given up using dop sticks on larger cabochons. When I used dops, I would finish the back of the cab after the front was finished. Now I finish the whole cab all at once. I do lose a lot of fingernails not using a dop, but I find the control and precision and freedom of movement is far superior to attaching the stone to a stick.
EDB: What is your motivation to create, and your favorite part of the process?
SW: I’m simply creative. My nature dictates that I create. I’m compelled to do it and will keep doing it unless I can’t or I die. The finished piece is the payoff. It doesn’t hurt if I can get someone to pay for my work but it’s really the process and completed art that satisfies me.
WHERE TO FIND SKYE
Company name: Skye’s Gems: www.skyesgems.com