Ever since I finished my Mountain Tapestry bolo I have wanted to push my inlay technique further in a design and have been struck with an iconic image of the West, a skull in the desert, bleached and sunbaked, resting on a sandstone mesa. This bolo is the very special realization of that dream-like image in my mind.
In this piece I worked with some sketches of a Bison skull and paired that with a stunning piece of Star Fox Variscite set in 14k gold. I started with a billet of the best quality hardened damascus in the world, Damasteel from Sweden. I carefully forged the metal on my 150 ton hydraulic press and then annealed it in a kiln multiple times to get the damascus to a workable piece a bit bigger than the finished bolo. After machining the blank to a nice flat, square, and clean piece, I used my CNC mill to cut inlay channels of both .031" wide and .02" wide. After machining, I crafted a gold bezel for the stone, fit it to the bolo, and did a preliminary sanding of surfaces. I then heat treated the bolo to harden it, placing it in an oxygen free stainless steel envelope, and carefully brought it to 1925' F in a kiln before cooling it in air. The hardness of the steel makes it incredibly durable but also makes the inlay line work exceptionally crisp. The inlay required about 14 inches of 22k gold wire and involved hours of tedious work to bend, fit, and then hammer the gold into the channels. Hours more of careful sanding brought the whole surface flush and planar with a high polish to best accentuate the inlay and (soon) the texture in the damascus. After all of that, I then was able to etch the damascus steel in hot hydrochloric acid, revealing the forged layers and the beautiful sandstone-inspired texture. After multiple etchings, with polishing and sanding in between, I gave it a dark patina with a special process and then finally assembled it.
Epic damascus steel bolo tie with 22k gold inlay, 14k gold bezel and Star Fox Variscite. (yes, epic)
Paired with an exquisite handmade leather cord from @taosleather and my own sterling silver granite texture end caps.