Johanna Dahm – Ashanti Casting

Zurich born, Cape Town raised, Johanna Dahm creates and teaches about jewellery. She’s packed a lot into her life so I’m going to bullet some things here…

  • Early works included use of non-traditional materials  – aluminum, resin and plexiglass.
  • Developed a fascination with the connection of jewellery to clothing, designing the pinless brooch, eliminating the 2 faces (as in pretty front and messy back).


  • 1990 – 2005 Became a tenured professor at the University of Design in Pforzheim, Germany.
  • Late 1990’s took sabbatical leave, traveling to Ghana to study the ancient ASHANTI casting method (developed 6000 years ago there), apprenticing under goldsmith, Nana Poku Amponsah, the only practitioner under licence from the late King Otumfuo Opoku Ware III. Traditionally females aren’t permitted to learn this technique and you can learn more about the Ashanti casting method here.
  • 2003 – 2004 through her research discovered a similar and isolated closed-cycle casting method being practiced by the Dokra casters in East India (4000 year history) and worked in Odisha with craftspeople there to refine her casting techniques.1 Ashanti, ring, gold 18k

Ashanti, ring, gold 18k

2 Ashanti, ring, gold 18k
Ashanti, ring, 18k
Ashanti, ring, gold 18k
Ashanti, ring, gold 18k
  • Developed the fast ASHANTI method (because she was short on time) which involved skipping the making of the initial wax model and instead directly forming a hollow space in the clay.

fast ASHANTI, ring, 2003, 24k, rough diamonds

fast ASHANTI, ring, 2003, gold 24k, rough diamonds

fast ASHANTi, ring, 2003, pure silver
fast ASHANTI, ring, 2003, pure silver
fast Ashanto Heritage, ring casting head, 2007, gold 24k medelled in clay in negative with traces from a 1950's diamond ring
fast ASHANTI, “Heritage”, ring casting head, 2007, gold 24k, modelled in clay in negative with traces from a 1950’s diamond ring
  • 2012 Enhancement Collection – elaborating on the chance nature of the lost wax process Dahm uses the existing unexpected forms in some of her practice pieces, adding jewels and other precious metals, giving them new life.
Enhancement, ring 2011, pure silver (silver ring- fast ASHANTI with casting head, modelled with clay in the negative), pure gold 24ct, black rough diamonds
Enhancement, ring, 2011, pure silver (silver ring – fast ASHANTI with casting head) modelled with clay in the negative
Enhancement 8, 2012, ring
Enhancement 8, 2012Enhancement 3, 2012, ringEnhancement 3, 2012, ring
  • 2011 – Wilhelm Tell’s Shot (Tell is a 14th century Swiss folk hero who, increasingly frustrated by foreign meddling in monetary policy is said to have assassinated the Hapsburg installed tyrant Albrecht Gessler). In this series Dahm shot bullets through precious metal as a response to the 2008 global financial crisis, thereby altering it’s perceived preciousness from purely monetary to that of adornment object.
Willhelm Tell's Shot fine gold, silver
Willhelm Tell’s Shot fine gold, silver (Photo:
Johanna Dahm Ring; Willhelm Tell's Shot fine gold
Willhelm Tell’s Shot Ring fine gold