By the mid 1990’s Michael and Ruth Anne Grove had become masters of what was then called the “step blend”. They used the technique not just to add shading within their cane but to create intricate texture and pattern as seen in this brooch.
Michael Grove, Insect Necklace, circa 1996 In a finely crafted work one senses that the artist poured almost as much attention in to the back side of the piece as the front. Look carefully at the top of this image where you can detect the backside of the fifth bead in this necklace. Michael applied tiny luminous insect canes to the back, matching the caned detailing on the black spacer beads.
Michael writes about these pieces,” They were … from a flower bug series. I always told people who asked about them, that the bugs evolved to look like the flowers they pollinated to confuse predators. And in fact the flowers came first. The pin is a later version of the development of those canes maybe a year or so later than the necklace. I began to move in a more sculpture direction culminating in the flower/feather masks. These canes were made by me using my custom cutter to create the tight slicing, both in the broach/necklace elements and in the actual making of the step canes.”