Yemenite Filigree 1
Prior to 1950-53 Yemen had a large Jewish population (50,000+). One of the main occupations of the major Jewish tribes was silversmithing, and they had developed a filligree style unique to the Middle East. When they all moved to Israel they brought the technique with them, but faced with a multitude of job options not available to their ancestors, the next generation of Yemenite Jews did not all faithfully learn the craft. So the masters of this craft are now either very old Yemenites in Israel, or those who did preserve the craft.
Among them is Yehuda Tassa, www.sabrajewelrydesign.com. From: Spinning silver into Yemenite filigree — in Silicon Valley by janet silver ghent
In a corner of his Palo Alto garage, Yehuda Tassa turns threads of silver into intricate Yemenite filigree jewelry and Judaica. He fashions layered flower petals that form a pendant or the base of a chanukiah, necklaces replete with Yemenite Jewish symbols, drop earrings with stones or colorful beads, pendants set with fusion glass, stones or enamel.
He works with two kinds of torches, soldering or creating layered designs with a fusion technique he developed himself. He also uses a crock pot for creating pickled finishes, and a rolling mill for flattening beadlike granules of silver into a wire frame. The delicate designs must be flattened on a surface of soft, charred wood, which provides cushioning.
“Yemenite filigree is a very unique style,” says Tassa, who learned the craft as a child in Jerusalem from his Yemen-born father. He says it’s far more precise and detailed than the work done by other cultural traditions. Unfortunately, most of the Yemenite Jewish artisans have passed on, and their children have adopted other professsions. Tassa’s lapidary teacher calls it a lost art. But Tassa, 70, who worked for 40 years as an aerospace engineer and professor before returning to the craft of his ancestors, has gone several steps further. Using his knowledge of chemistry and physics, he augments a past tradition with new designs, formulas and techniques.
From his website: