Meet the Artists
Materials and Availability
Sterling Silver - usually ships same day.
Gold Vermeil- (22 Karat Gold Plate over Sterling Silver) - charms, stick pins and earrings usually ship same day.
Tie tacks and lapel pins are special order and can take up to 1 month to process.
14 Karat gold is by special order and takes about one week to process.
If you are not fully satisfied with our products, for any reason, simply return the charm for a Full Refund within 30 days of receipt. (No C.O.D.'s accepted) All charms carry a full Lifetime Replacement guarantee for any defects in material or workmanship.
Custom Designing, Casting and Finishing Services
In addition to making our own line of charms we offer casting and finishing services to producing craftspersons and jewelers. Services include mold making, casting, and finishing. We can also design and create logos or special corporate gift items for companies. We believe in working with our customers to help them achieve the finest results possible.Contact us for more information.
Microsculptures (also known as Charmworks) began with master sculptor Patricia Frey making custom jewelry in a kiosk in a mall. It has become a collection of unique and beautiful charms.
Pat began her career as a sculptor in 1954. Amazingly she is self taught. While raising four children she was able to study the techniques and processes of jewelry making. From stone setting to forging, Pat has done it all. Gathering information and equipment along the way, Pat eventually chose casting as her preferred method of jewelry making. She is a superb model maker, carving in both wax and metal. Casting is the best way to reproduce her art.
Over the years she has produced a large body of work. She has perfected the techniques of finishing that Microsculptures still uses today. She takes her inspiration from the world of nature, including the creatures of the earth, sea and air. She is an avid gardener and at age 74 she is still making these unique and truly exquisite "micro- sculptures"!
Pats daughter Rachel joined the business in 1985 after earning a degree in fine art and working in the field of graphic design and printing. Her designs reflect this background and compliment the more organic nature of Pats work. In addition to designing, Rachel handles all other aspects of the business such as mold making, casting, finishing and assembly.
Not long after joining the business, Rachel had the opportunity to train with a casting firm on the east coast. She also attended workshops on mold making and waxing. After that experience Pat and Rachel were able to purchase their own casting equipment and have since been making all of the jewelry in house. This allows them to maintain a very strict quality control and quick turn around on products. Rachel’s designs represent a love of animals, both domestic and wild, but she is especially fond of horses.
As the business continues to grow the line has expanded to over 1000 designs. Every design is an original and each charm that is made gets individual attention. From designing to packaging all work is done in the Microsculpture shop. Over the past 36 years this quality of craftsmanship has been the corner stone of the success of the business and it shows in each charm.
How we make our charms
We use the lost wax method of casting to make our charms. Lost wax casting is one of the oldest of art crafts. The original piece, or master design, is either carved in wax or cut out of metal. If carved in wax the master is then cast in sterling silver so that we have a metal master. The metal master is then placed between sheets of rubber and the rubber is vulcanized to harden it.
After the rubber is "cooked" we cut it open, remove the master and are left with a rubber mould. We can then reproduce the charm in quantity. The next process is waxing. The rubber mould is filled repeatedly with wax and those wax pieces are then "sprued" onto a "candle". This wax candle is placed in a steel container, the flask, and encased with a special plaster, investment. After the plaster hardens the flask is placed in a kiln where the wax is melted out- hence the term "lost wax casting".
Now we have a plaster mould with empty spaces where the wax was. It is then ready to be filled with molten metal. We use a spin casting machine. It uses centrifugal force to fill the flask with molten metal. The metal is melted in a crucible and at just the right temperature, the crucible is pushed up against the opening in the flask and a spring is released that causes the flask to spin which in turn causes the molten metal to be forced into the empty spaces in the flask. The spinning continues until the metal solidifies.
The plaster is then cleaned off and the metal pieces are revealed. Each piece is then cut off of the candle and the finishing process begins. The sprues are clipped off and that cut area is then smoothed off with a series of progressively finer sanding wheels. The piece is now ready for polishing. Polishing will bring out the shine of metal- silver or gold. Polishing is achieved by tumbling the charms in progressively finer medium until the surface is smoothed and shiny.
The charms are then ready to assembled and shipped! Each charm gets individual attention. This ensures the highest quality control. We can make our charms into earrings, pendants, tie tacks, lapel pins, even cuff links or stick pins.