In his carved wood jewelry, Louisiana’s Daniel DiCaprio hopes to create biological forms, like orchids, that are weird yet beautiful.
The artist: Born in Albany, DiCaprio grew up in the Hudson River Valley of upstate New York. He graduated with a degree in art education from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, and later earned his master’s degree in metal design from East Carolina University.
After graduating, DiCaprio got a jewelry job at Hoover and Strong in Richmond, VA, where he learned and practiced goldsmithing. He worked there for five years while continuing to create his own artwork in a home studio.
In 2014, he moved to Lafayette, LA, to teach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The company/studio: Daniel DiCaprio, based in Lafayette, started working professionally in 2009. The artist’s studio is an outbuilding in his backyard. The building was originally a small antique store.
The art & materials: One-of-a-kind carved wood jewelry, mostly brooches, usually in ebony or holly, and combined with different metal adornments.
Sometimes this is metal wire inlay or cast elements with flush set stones. Other times it might be carved pewter, champleve enamel or cast resin.
What’s popular: Brooches ($1,000 to $3,000).
Other favorites: Earrings ($200 to $800) that often reference his brooches.
- Biological forms and unusual adaptations in both plants and animals.
- Orchids because of their variability across the world. “They’re so weird and beautiful, something I hope to achieve in my own work,” said DiCaprio.
- Artists, including Martin Puryear, Liv Blavarp, Ruth Asawa, Helen Frankenthaler and Louise Nevelson.
Claim to fame: Some of his earrings were featured in a photo shoot with singer songwriter Alicia Keyes for Essence magazine.
Fun or unusual requests: Later, the Essence magazine photographer requested a big necklace — and needed it in a week. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen.
Big break: When he started working with Charon Kransen Arts in New York City in 2008, DiCaprio gave Kransen all of his work to exhibit at SOFA Chicago. All of DiCaprio’s jewelry sold.
“It gave me a lot of hope that what I loved doing could become my career,” said DiCaprio.
Awards & honors: Many, including:
- Some of the research grants he has received in collaboration with university colleagues to help build a digital fabrication lab.
- A solo exhibition at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in 2019, an art museum in Lafayette. It was special because his friends, colleagues and students were all able to be there.
- Working on an elaborate, large-scale woodcut using Mardi Gras bead imagery for a printmaking exhibition at the Hilliard Museum in Lafayette, Sept. 10-Aug. 20, 2022.
- Online workshops, including a class on carving wood earrings in September through Metalwerx, a non-profit jewelry making and metal arts school.
- Charon Kransen Arts, which represents DiCaprio’s work in the country, will participate in Intersect Chicago (formerly SOFA Chicago), Nov. 4-7. Also at New York Jewelry Week, Nov. 15-21.
Where to buy:
Get social at:
- Website: dandicaprio.com
- Instagram: @dandicaprio