CAMDEN — It can only be described as a ray gun.

Sitting in the window at Thomas Michaels Designers on Elm Street is an artifact from the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Here is a weapon worthy of Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. With its energy coils and flared barrel, its sleek bronze grip, it evokes art deco, the early 20th century. It is plucked from a comic strip panel and made real.

The ray gun is the work of artist Scott Nelles, who has his studio in Northwest Michigan, near Traverse City.

The sculptor runs a foundry and does casting. Nelles pours melted metal into sand molds to create his works of art. The sand is bonded together with clay and oil. He said the same process, which is a very old one, is used to make engine blocks.

The sand leaves a texture on the metal, which can be polished down. The ray gun is made mostly of aluminum with bronze handgrips and trigger.

Nelles said he has a new ray gun design coming out. He added that people are drawn to the art deco style and science fiction imagery, some collecting pieces including his own of rockets, flying saucers, aliens, and energy weapons.

Thomas Michaels said a doctor visiting from Florida had to have one of the ray guns for his collection. Apparently, the wandering M.D. has an entire wall devoted to such treasures. The Camden business sold three of the ray guns last year.

Thomas Michaels holds a car created by artist Scott Nelles. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

However, the most popular Scott Nelles item is the bronze Tree of Life Menorah. Nelles said he will soon have a Monterey Cypress Menorah available.

Thomas and Nora Hattman Michaels have worked in Camden since 1984. Their business specializes in unique jewelry design. They hold numerous trademarks, copyrights and patents for their innovative creations. An entire wall in their work area is devoted to tools of the trade. Their showroom includes multiple glass cases of contemporary American jewelry.

One does not always associate science fiction with high-end jewelry design, but it just goes to show that creativity knows no bounds.

Nora Hattman Michaels works at Thomas Michaels Designers in Camden on April 7. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

The bronze Tree of Life Menorah by artist Scott Nelles is a popular item at Thomas Michaels Designers in Camden. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Tools are carefully organized at Thomas Michaels Designers in Camden. Thomas Michaels and Nora Hattman Michaels are master jewelers and innovative custom designers. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

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