Baltic Amber, hand processing - sandpaper and water
Baltic Amber, hand processing – sandpaper and water

For me, every amber I work with is not only a material but a finite perfection that requires only unveiling its beauty that is hidden inside. I am aware that my approach is rare today, although I have heard many times from people who still remember the old amber processing techniques that this specific way has been known for centuries. Cutting large specimens into small pieces in order to make balls, beads or cabochons from them I take as an act of destruction. I choose the symmetrical form, typical for a jewelry setting, only when the original shape of rough amber requires just a little bit of my help to achieve it.

The most important thing to me is to keep as much of the original shape of amber as it is possible. And not because I would love to maintain the greatest weight of every amber I’ve cut. It is always nice by the way. But for me the original shape of the rough stone is much more important than that. I can’t give you the scientific proofs yet, although my intuition tells me that it has a lot to do with electrostatics (amber has unique ability to store electromagnetic charge) and cymatics – a branch of physics that study relationships occuring between sound and the shape that matter adopts when it is exposed to different frequencies of sound waves. I believe that every shape has some meaning, and it’s equal to some specific energy. And because mother nature has decided to bestow me with amber in this and no other form, I appreciate and respect that and I’m not going to change it.

Baltic Amber, hand processing - original and organic shape
Baltic Amber, hand processing – original and organic shape

Thanks to this, most of my ambers have organic shapes, often reminiscent of various sea creatures, animals, pieces of plants or leaves. I also sense that they got a various purposes. Some are calming and suits best for meditation. Some have ability to heal, relieve pain and are perfect for bio-energy therapy. Still others strongly stimulate to action and there are also those intended mainly to enjoy the eyes and heart with their beauty.

I love to work with such ambers, which yet as a drop of resin falled on the forest litter or tree branches at least 35 mln years ago and became somehow a record of those fleeting moments. Amber has an amazing ability to keep this record in excellent condition, absolutely impossible to store for so long in any other way. That is why I keep all those pieces of the past in my works, additionally consolidating the significance of individual ambers as specific time capsules and unique portals for direct contact with such a distant past.

Baltic Amber, hand processing - perfectly preserved sunken seeds
Baltic Amber, hand processing – perfectly preserved sunken seeds

Selecting specimens suitable for further processing in the manner described here is not easy. Baltic amber comes in many varieties of transparency and especially amber caught in the sea often is broken by storms. From a statistical kilo of spoil much less than 5% is suitable for that kind of processing. The matter is even hampered by a skilful recognition of which side is best to show off the beauty hidden inside. That’s why works like mine are very rare on the market today.

Another important point is that the whole process is done cold. The rough material that I use has never been treated, thermally hardened or chemically stabilized. One of the main side effects of these procedures used on a massive scale is stopping the release of succinic acid, whose beneficial healing properties deserve a separate description. My ambers fully retain their healing properties and the part left in its raw state allows the release of succinic acid in quantities similar to those emitted by rough amber.

Baltic Amber, hand processing - rough bottom
Baltic Amber, hand processing – rough bottom

On the technical side, apart from the first phase of stripping the bark, for which I sometimes use diamond drillbits, all further processing, i.e. forming, smoothing and polishing, is done manually using various gradations of sandpaper, water and polishing paste invented by me. The change between my amber processing techniques and those used since the early Neolithic is really small. In the first phase, flint scrapers (still in use in the early twentieth century in Kurpie) and various porosity of stones have always been used. In the smoothing and polishing phase different thicknesses of sand, clay, ash, powdered chalk and soft leather were in use. In fact, the tools I use are nothing more than simple yet contemporary and improved copy of the workshop of old masters.

You might think that manual working in the age of computer-controlled grinders and fully automated production processes is just a whim, but it’s not. Thanks to this, as in any field, where handicraft rules, the quality of my works far exceeds what items processed mechanically can offer. My ambers fits perfectly into hand, providing a whole set of extremely pleasant feelings. They simply love to be touched.

Baltic Amber, hand processing - sandpaper and water
Baltic Amber, hand processing – sandpaper and water