2016 Metal Clay Survey

12I have a very short survey for metal clay artists.  This information is only for Creative Fire so that we can better plan out our next year and bring you the articles you’d like to read!
Thank you!
Jeannette Froese LeBlanc, editor Creative Fire

Update: We have reached the maximun amount of responses for the survey.  But have no fear–you can fill out this word doc and email it back to me. survey-2016




Product Review: OneFire Sterling PMC


A beautiful bracelet by Terry Kovalcik made with Sterling PMC Photo: Corrin Jacobsen Kovalcik

I was recently asked by PMC Connection to test the new sterling metal clay by Mitsubishi.  I was excited, but also a little intimidated when I thought about all of the beautiful pieces made by testers of PMC products over the years: Hattie Sanderson’s rings, Celie Fago’s rings and charms, Terry Kovalcik’s bracelets. I worked hard on my experimental test pieces, but I didn’t end up with anything that will grace the posters and ads for the new clay. I did learn some things that I’m sharing in the hopes that my mistakes benefit other metal clay artists.

pmc-onefire-sterling-45g-50-6g-clay-weight-2962-pThe new “OneFire Sterling PMC” is a marvelous new clay.  Celie Fago’s idea to combine metal clays into a sterling 960 was a brilliant twist for metal clay artists.  And now Mitsubishi has taken the clay one step further and it can be open shelf fired. Continue reading…

Every Breath You Take by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

fan3So what’s it like in your studio?  How’s the air you breathe? I work with many different media types and use several different processes. For example: metal clay, metalsmithing, metal etching, polymer clay, paint…and sometimes my work makes me feel ill.  Sometimes I’m affected by just the smell of certain things in my studio. So I started to think about installing an exhaust fan.  I looked at some “industrial” options and found most to be out of my budget.  Then I came up with an idea-and it cost $43.  Can’t beat that!

I bought a brand new kitchen stove exhaust fan at a “Habitat for Humanity-Re-Store”. Then I brought it into my studio and realized I had no wall space where I needed the fan.  My solution was to take the fan out of the range hood and to put it in a box. Below I show the steps I took to install a fan to help with drawing out the air in my studio.  I always try to have a window open a bit to bring in fresh air (even in the dead of winter) but I didn’t feel the air in my studio was being changed fast enough. Continue reading…

Marketing Your Work: The Basics BY CAROL AUGUSTINE

isgLet’s face it, as artisans most of us fail at marketing ourselves and our work. We hope buyers will flock to us out of nowhere and our pieces will magically sell themselves. For some of us the very thought of it fills us with fear and trepidation, so we chose to ignore it. If we do, then we are not hungry enough, or if we are, we choose to scratch out an existence instead—hunting for change between our sofa cushions, eating beans out of a can—and foresee ourselves spending our nights on a car seat. Well, maybe it won’t get to that but we will spend our time wondering why we have few buyers and agonizing over whether or not our work is good enough. This is not the artisan life we want; it is counter-productive and barely surviving.

Without a well-thought-out strategic marketing plan chances are slim you will be successful at making money at your craft. You have to conquer your fear and change your attitude. If you don’t know how to market your items, then it’s time to learn. If you think of it as an extension of the creative process instead of separate from it, then your attitude will change and you might even develop a passion for it. There is nothing like a few sales as a result of your efforts to spur you on. Let’s get busy and see what you can do to get your name and your work out there in front of the buying public. Continue reading…

Book Reviews by Pat Evans (Soldering, Leather and Architecture in Metal)

MCAM 5.4_Page_24_Image_0001SOLDERING BEYOND THE  BASICS By Joe Silvera, Kalmbach Books, 2014.

I always tell my metal clay students that adding basic soldering to their repertoire can add versatility to their work. Until I took a class on production soldering with Joe Silvera, however, I didn’t realize just how many possibilities there were for more advanced soldering techniques to enhance my metal clay practice. Not everyone has such a skilled teacher available. Luckily, anyone with basic soldering experience and access to a torch can use Silvera’s new book to ramp up their skills.

Section one is full of information about tools, including types of torches and how to set them up and adjust them. It gives in-depth descriptions of materials such as flux and solder as well as some basic stone-setting directions. The author understands the limitations of home studios and his section on setting up a studio is down-to-earth and practical, with an emphasis on safety. Throughout the book Silvera suggests nontoxic products whenever possible. All the projects can be completed with the reader’s choice of a butane torch or a small tank torch system.

The second section has 16 projects. Silvera guides the artist through each project with clear, specific directions that sound as if he was standing in the same room. Ample photographs complement the directions. Projects specify the type of torch or torch tip to use, what size flame and even which type of polishing abrasive to use for finishing work. They begin with simpler concepts such as soldering jump rings or working with mixed metals and adjusting for different melting points. They progress to more difficult projects including prongs and making a bezel from gold gallery wire. It’s well worth studying even projects that you might not plan to practice, as the details can be helpful in metal clay projects as well. Ways of shaping prongs, tips for forming angles on bezels and ideas for interesting tube bails are all concepts that transfer directly to metal clay projects.

The book ends with a section reviewing basic jewelry making techniques. I especially appreciated the overview of polishing with power tools and the pros and cons of different abrasives. The section on sizing rings with its chart of ring blank lengths by band thickness/metal gauge is worth photocopying and posting on the wall by your work area.

If you are ready to take the next step in your soldering skills you can’t do better than to study Soldering Beyond the Basics.

MCAM 5.4_Page_24_Image_0002BEAUTIFUL LEATHER JEWELRY By Melissa Cable, Kalmbach Books, 2014.

Leather jewelry is hot right now and combining metal clay accents with leather is an excel- lent way to serve up a contemporary look. Melissa Cable’s new book is a great introduction for jewelers who want to explore this material.

Artists who have never worked with leather will find all the basics they need in the twenty-page Basics section. Cable explains the different types of leather and how to source them, specialty tools and how to maintain them, and finishing products. Since leatherwork requires a completely different set of tools than metal clay, I especially appreciated the chart separating out “bare minimum essentials” from “basics to grow with.”

The projects section of the book begins with a tutorial on basic cuff techniques that teaches concepts that will be used throughout the following projects. Thirty- one projects build on the basics and add even more techniques. The projects include ways to make leather beads that made me immediately think of using metal clay for the cores or bead caps. There are also a wide variety of cuff bracelets and a scattering of necklaces. Each is lovely as written, but I couldn’t help imagining adding metal clay to most of the designs. The instructions are simple but well illustrated and include enough detail for a beginner to follow.

The author says in her introduction, “Each lock has many keys….Enjoy the reckless pursuit of finding your own.” With the guidance provided by this book artists who want to explore leather either on its own or in combination with metal will have the tools to unlock many possibilities.

MCAM 5.4_Page_25_Image_0001ARCHITECTURAL JEWELRY IN METAL CLAY By Hadar Jacobson, self-published, 2014.

Before Hadar Jacobson became famous for her line of base metal clays she was known for her distinctive architectural jewelry rings that resemble little cities, pendants that portray rooms in perspective and scenes of landscapes seen through miniature windows. In her latest book Jacobson reveals the secrets behind these architectural wonders.

The book begins with a practical approach to drawing in perspective without measuring or using special tools. Next the author takes the design process a step further by demonstrating how to use scale models and photographs to make patterns and further develop perspective. This section will be especially valued by anyone who hesitates to tackle any projects requiring drawing skills. The simple process results in complex designs that can readily be translated into metal clay.

A variety of techniques for creating architecturally inspired pendants, rings and sculptures are presented through 35 step-by-step projects. The projects include low reliefs, hollow forms and combinations of the two. All of the projects are made using Hadar’s Clay although most could be adapted to other clays.

One of the fascinating aspects of the projects is how complicated-looking shapes are achieved by using simple objects such as a disposable lighter, an index card or a beach stone as supports. Each technique is demonstrated with clear directions and plenty of photographs, and although the projects are all centered on architectural designs and landscapes the techniques can be interpreted in myriad ways. Scattered throughout the book are pictures showing variations on each theme as interpreted by Hadar’s Clay accredited teachers.

In the introduction Jacobson says that this book “leans heavily” on her previous five books, her blog and the directions which come with her clays. Beginners will certainly want to use this book either in combination with other sources or under the tutelage of an experienced metal clay teacher. Basic and intermediate techniques, from proper rolling procedure to how to ball wire, are mentioned without any directions for accomplishing them. Intermediate and more experienced artists, however, will appreciate not having to skip over chapters of material with which they are already familiar.

Anyone who is interested in creating their own little worlds or in working with layers and hollow forms will certainly want a copy Architectural Jewelry in Metal Clay. It is available on Hadar Jacobson’s website, www.artinsilver.com.

MCAM 5.4_Page_27_Image_0001Pat Evans keeps her hoard of jewelry making tools in San Jose, CA. She is a Senior Art Clay instructor and holds PMCC Level III and Rio Rewards PMC certifications. Pat has been teaching about crafts and creativity to both children and adults for more than 20 years, and she loves to encourage students in finding and playing with their inner artists (generally along with a nice selection of tools).

No Mirrors-My Dream of an Art Retreat by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

Last week I went camping. While away I didn’t check the news. I had no phone calls. And no mirror. For a week it was just me and my family. On the way home we decided to drop in on a relative for a visit. It was then that I suddenly saw what we were wearing and realized my daughter had not combed her hair in days. Then I realized I hadn’t combed my hair in days either. It’s not that we didn’t have time! It just wasn’t important.
Continue reading…

Metal Clay 101-Syringe Extrusion by Teva Jane Chaffin

Chaffin RingsThe syringe is my go-to form of metal clay for many techniques and applications. Not only is it great for setting cubic zirconia (smaller than 3mm) but also for creating texture and pattern.

unnamedOne of my favorite uses is creating a filigree-type tree of life. I also use as a fill in for seams or gaps that may appear when creating dry construction pieces. Using steady pressure and a moist brush for smoothing will make a smooth join.

Holding syringe(1)Holding the syringe – Avoid a death grip!
It is important to hold the syringe in a way that is comfortable for you. My recommendation: grasp the syringe barrel using four fingers of your dominant hand and place your thumb on top of the plunger. The “wings” of the syringe will rest on top of your index finger. Use wrist movements to guide the direction of the syringe.

Cutting the tipTo trim or not to trim the tip:
The amount of the tip you cut off will determine the size of the line to be extruded. The more you cut, the large the line. It can be useful to have multiple length tips available for a variety of uses. Be sure tips are on a syringe and kept moist in a cup of distilled water or a syringe saver in between uses.

When setting a cubic zirconia, I use the syringe with no tip at all. This creates the largest possible line and allows me to perfectly form a mound for the stone to be set in. I push the stone in until the syringe clay is nearly level with the crown (the top, flat part of the stone.) When the clay is fired and shrinks, it grasps the girdle (widest rim of the stone) and secures it. Note:

Applying SyringeApplying syringe:
To achieve a complete and unbroken line of syringe clay, always hold the syringe tip approximately one-half inch above your intended design and use consistent pressure of the plunger. Control the placement of the syringe with your wrist movement. A moist brush is great for adjusting the placement of the line after it has been extruded. To stop the flow of syringe, lightly touch the tip to the surface you are applying it to. Tip: I recommend checking to be sure the syringe line is securely attached to the surface you are embellishing. If applying to a clay shape, a little moisture may be helpful to ensure the contact is secure.

Chaffin braceletDrawing with the syringe:
For filigree use of the syringe, draw your design on paper and tape to a piece of transparency film. This will allow you to use the syringe to trace your design. Allow it to dry completely, turn over and apply another layer. Once this double-layered filigree is dry, you can then use the syringe to fill in the seam/gap on the sides using the syringe. For drawing on a clay slab, simply draw your design on the dry shape and apply syringe as you trace your design.

Pic of TevaAbout Teva
Teva is a PMC Senior Instructor, as well as the creative force behind TevaJane®, Timeless Earth Collections. Her work has been featured in publications such as “Nashville Arts Magazine” and “Metal Clay Artists” and on loan as an exhibition to locations such as Purdue University, Franklins’ Gallery 202 and most recently Brentwood City Library.  In 2012 Teva began teaching at the prestigious William Holland School of Art. While her skills as a designer and jewelry maker have been practiced and developed through the years to create her art, the vision and creative imagination for her art and nature is the same today as that little girl collecting stones in rural Tennessee at the age of seven.

Clean your Studio, Heal your Artself By Ann Davis

This article is a reprint.  To see the original article click here.  Over the years Ann and I have heard from so many artists how her article changed their lives. Read on and heal your “artself”.
ann davisMy studio has always been an active working space, more of a workshop where things are made than a quiet space for inspiration. I’ve never needed a girly-girl space because I was a “Serious Working Metalsmith” and my professors, teachers, smithing friends all had, for want of a better description, tool shops. Everything creates grime!! To me having a clean space to do enameling meant one square foot of clean tabletop.

I used to do casting production runs. If you are not familiar with that, it’s often making one hundred of one thing in a week, after which of course it was a really dirty workshop. But I never questioned it. My work was fulfilling and profitable, and I loved it. And so it went for 40-plus years and several different studios.

Viewing a Crafthaus exhibit, Studio Sanctuaries, created by Pat Morrow caused me to contemplate and reevaluate the space where I spend so much of my day. I felt it had become divided between the computer desk, bookkeeping, and fun-interacting with friends and the overstuffed, chaotic workshop side. This was something that had been bubbling up in my thought process and banging at the door of my conscious awareness for some time. The struggle between the messy “get to work” side and the computer “play” side finally crystallized into a thought. I had been disrespecting myself, my work- er self and my inner self, my whole self.

We all get busy and have to make choices on what we can spend our time on. Even though I’m very active in the art community, I had obviously been making the choice that everything else was more important than me taking the time to order my life, my art, my being, my whole self, my Artself! It was a cathartic moment! Oh, my poor studio, my poor Artself!!! Looking around, I realized that my Artself was in chaos. Was that what was inside my head? My soul? Certainly not! Where was the calm and serenity I knew I possessed in my inner being?2

Buried somewhere under the chaos of too little time and too many commitments?

I decided to excavate!

Taking out my little calendar/year planner, I scanned for empty days. For the next two months I wrote in “Clean my Studio” on every empty day, even the weekends. My first step in taking back my Artself was simply by penciling myself in!!! I looked at all the junk stuffed under my jewelry and glass benches and realized a trip to buy plastic drawers was in order. I took measurements and shopped for days until I found a size and style that would fit the most number of drawers. I felt it was a guilty plea- sure…shouldn’t I be working???? Just that little bit of shopping for plastic was somehow comforting and rewarding and filled me with anticipation! In came the new drawers!

No matter how many ways you re-arrange your stuff, it’s still Your Stuff, your baggage from life. When you take out each piece of junk/treasure one by one, memories are conjured up. As you go through your stuff, all kinds of thoughts spark in your mind, emotions are triggered, and the re- ally good experiences are released to enjoy all over again. You kind of get reacquainted with your art life. But I also realized that the artsupply hoarder in me needed help. I enlisted my hubby (and photographer) Howard. I mean really, how was little old me going to get that new butcher block table from Ikea put together? Who else would help me let go of bag after bag of stuff that I had been holding so dear for so many years? In came the new tables!9

I still have my first bezel rocker from college, and the first stone I cut there… it was fancy lace agate. I remember each and every stone, like the time I picked up turquoise nuggets off the ground in New Mexico… I still have those. Was I saving those to make into jewelry, or was I keeping them as a treasured memory? As I went through my boxes of precious stones, my mind began to wander contemplating their beauty. It’s a funny thing about gemstones: Buddhists say they are a life form be- cause they grow… ever so slowly. I like that. If you could reincarnate as a stone, which one would you choose? Would you be in a state of eternal bliss if you were a diamond? You would have eternal beauty but not be able to move and perhaps only think a thought every millennium. Hmmmm… the Artself inside me wonders about that. This is also known as creative procrastination, something I’m good at. But it’s time to delve into the next box of stuff.

Found objects, fake found objects, old game pieces, fake old game pieces and plastic flies! What was I thinking? I guess that was all left over from my recycled jewelry phase. I never really connected to that concept very well, but I sure had a good time collecting stuff. Now I have a big box of stuff. I determined that it all had to fit in one small storage box because I hadn’t touched it in years. But who knows when I would need some of it? Better to hang onto just a little bit. I can’t quite let that past go. Not the plastic flies.unspecified

Another box. Full of glass sheeting. When I started making lampworked beads in the early 90’s it was hard to get rods in many colors, so I strip-cut glass and melted that instead. And a frit maker! A giant piece of pipe welded to a backplate with a pounder, a heavy thing that probably hastened my arthritis, but after all, you couldn’t get frit back then either. Did I really need to keep that stuff?? Out it went.

And tracing paper. I guess I never could find it when I needed it because I had dozens of old pads of it squirreled away in different places. Out went all of it, save one. Airbrushes. I have one in every flavor, but I had sold my compressor with my sandblaster. Yet I still love airbrushing – how could I ever have put them away? In came the new compressor!

Books. On every possible art subject. I have a voracious appetite for process. I don’t read fiction. I would rather curl up with a copy of how to build your own forge, or how to take yourself off the grid by becoming an electric power station. I kid you not. There is actually a book on that. Barring WW III, I probably would never use these books again. Into the back of the SUV they went. By the time I was done, the whole back end was full. Now, you can’t just throw away books, that’s not right. Instead I snuck up to the library late at night and filled their book deposit to the brim. An anonymous donation to Fairfax County Libraries. They would find good homes for the books.

Maybe the books more than anything re-introduced me to the curious artist I had been. When did I have time to do all that stuff? I was quite surprised by all the various journals and scrapbooks I had accumulated over the years. I didn’t realize it but I’ve always written down my thoughts while drawing jewelry designs. I’ve left sooooo many notes to myself! And now I can say hi again to my Artself. Gee, some of those drawings could benefit from further contemplation. I saved the promising ones and tossed the rest.

Files. Files going back decades. Twenty-year-old business files. Seriously, Artself? That’s just taking up space. Out they went. Many, many old portfolios. A dozen prints from Lithography 101 class. They all had to fit in one large portfolio folder: it was me or them. Out the rest went. Silkscreens. Really? How many did I need? And frames for canvas. I had hoarded those. I would never live long enough to stretch that much canvas. Out they went.

For over two months I focused on getting rid of old ideas and accumulated stuff. Trash can after trash can, I tossed stuff that had become artistic baggage. The Latin word for baggage is impedimentum. That was something that struck a chord with me back in high school but has really come full circle into my awareness now. The Roman Legions moved slowly with impedimentum. Apparently, so did I.

At the end of the cleaning I had released my-self from a whole lot of baggage and created a lot of space in my head and in my studio. Now it did need a little bit of a girly touch. In came the silk wisteria. I also realized that I had been fussing for years about the studio’s lighting but had not given myself time to do anything about it. In came the new lights. My past life had a practical floor covering. In came the new carpeting, purple no less. Finding the first stone I ever cut reminded me of the charts of minerals on the walls at college. Ya gotta love Google. In came the original charts, but laminated this time!10

Now I smile every time I see the old charts on the wall over the modern equipment. A nice touch. Old and the new. Peace inner and outer. Kind of a joining if you will, of the Artself I am now with all the art I have done in the past. It is amazing how much what you have and see around you controls your thoughts and feelings. Study a problem in jewelry construction and then look around your studio with that in mind…each thing your eye falls on sparks a different solution. The ebb and flow of ideas so often seems to be based on what you are seeing. Now I was seeing one continuous whole.7

I don’t think it was just the cleaning, dusting and vacuuming that made such a change for me. It was picking up every single thing I owned as an artist and either owning it or letting it go. Claiming it as still my stuff or saying to some things, “you are not my stuff anymore.” It was truly liberating. Do I miss any of my old stuff? Not one single thing.

Years ago I used to own an art rubber stamp company, and one of the stamps I created really celebrates the way I feel now: “Welcome to the State of Bliss. No baggage accepted.”

I still don’t clean up every night, because I like to find my tools  and work pieces exactly where I left them, so I can get straight back to whatever current idea I  was  working on. It’s like a bookmark for me. And I love having a home studio where the dogs and I can go anytime day or night to pick up where I left off,in process and inspiration. It’s so right for me, my Artself, and I.

ann2ANN DAVIS is a pyrolytic artist who loves to melt things until they look like jewelry. “If it’s a torch I own it, if it melts I’m there,” Ann was infamously quoted as saying. She got her first box of matches when she was 5 and never looked back. She has spent most of her artistic life eluding definition.


Editor’s note: The alternate title for Ann’s article was “How to Enlarge Your Studio Without Moving”.  Yes…that is her metal clay kiln in her bathroom!!!  Her kiln is happily in her studio now. While this image is really funny and a lot in Ann’s article shows her sense of humour, the big point she made was about healing your “artself”.  This is has been an amazing realization for many people who have read her article–that the art stuff in our studios could be holding us back.  That these things are full of memories, represent a different time in our lives or remind us of the money invested.  Thank you Ann for sharing your journey with us!  ~Jeannette Froese LeBlanc8

Artist Profile – Linda Kaye-Moses Interviewed by Julia Rai

1Khaleema Neckpiece 300 dpiLinda Kaye-Moses has been a leading light in the metal clay community since its earliest days. I first encountered her on the Yahoo Metal Clay Group, the original community forum for metal clay artists, which was the go-to place for information and answers before Facebook came along. A regular contributor to the group, Linda’s posts in response to questions were notable by their thorough and considered answers, always based in her personal experience and depth of knowledge. (Image: “Khaleema Neckpiece”)

7THE WAY INI first met her at one of the PMC conferences in the US and when I was setting up the Metal Clay Academy website in 2008, she was one of the first artists I approached for permission to include her work on the site. We met up during her vacation in Cornwall in April 2016 and she showed me some images of her latest body of work which is amazing. She agreed to be the subject of an artist profile for Creative Fire and has given us permission to show you this new work which is really exciting. (Image: “The Way In”)

A studio jeweler, Linda lives in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA with her husband Evan who I had the pleasure of meeting when they were in the UK in April. “My husband, art photographer Evan J. Soldinger, and I have been married 39 years,” she told me. “When we met several years before we married, we were both performing folksingers, and we met on a piano bench at a music party, while I was playing a ragtime tune on the piano. He joined in on autoharp and we became instant friends. His thoughts at the time were, ‘she’s a really interesting woman, but she’s wearing too much jewelry!’” She continued, “Evan became a loving stepfather to my daughter and son, Jude Roth and Adam Michael Rothberg. Jude is an actress and screenwriter, who has produced a number of award-winning shorts. Adam is a singer/songwriter who can play anything with strings and keyboard too, with five CDs out and working on a sixth. He also produces and performs on albums for other musicians.” (Images: “A Yodh for Exodus”)1A Yodh for ExodusPendant 1A Yodh for Exodus Brought up in Manhattan and Queens, New York, Linda has been an artist all her life. “I was constantly drawing as a child and when I was seven I drew a collection of women’s hats. I also attended summer camps, beginning when I was four until I was 15, and eagerly participated in their arts and crafts programs, weaving, potting, and just making anything and everything.”

You may be surprised to learn that Linda hasn’t always earned a living from artistic pursuits though. “I was once, during a period of time before jewelry making, a correctional officer counselor in an offender educational training program.” She discovered metal clay very early in its development. “I read Tim McCreight’s first article in 1995 in one of the trade periodicals here in The States, and was intrigued by the potentials inherent in the material,” she explained. “In 1996 Kevin Whitmore (from Rio Grande) demonstrated PMC Standard at the Society of North American Goldsmith’s conference that year, and I was compelled to buy my first package of it.” Her first impressions of it? “I was nothing short of blown away. I knew that it would allow me to add elements to my repertoire and was anxious to bring it home with me and fire it instantly.” (Image: Winter’s Blue Promise Neckpiece”)1Winter's Blue Promise Neckpiece 300 dpiaI asked her what she made first. “I decided I wanted to fire stones in PMC (seemed like a great idea), and having nothing but an old enameling kiln, I made a simple earring, jammed a small sapphire into it, and fired away, kiln-sitting while the kiln heated up and down, opening the door to allow the temp to stabilize, turning the control up and down, praying to the kiln gods, for two and half hours (just to be sure).”

“After that experience, I decided I needed more information (oh yeah!). At the time, I was Head of the Jewelry/Metals Department at a local Art Center, in charge of programming classes, so I call Tim and asked for an instructor of metal clay. Fortunately, Tim was able to arrange for Fred Woell to come teach. Fred’s class was the very first class in PMC to run in The States. I set up the class, filled it to overflowing, with a long waiting list, and scheduled a second class. When I called Tim about finding an instructor for the second class, he invited me to participate in a Master Class, so that I could teach metal clay. And… I was off and running.”

“During the first three years of teaching, I taught 21 classes, all in The States. This was in addition to running the department at the Art Center, plus exhibiting my work at shows!!! However did I survive that???” she laughs. “Around 2001 I curated the first juried exhibition of metal clay in The States, Millennial Metal at The Tendler Gallery at Brookfield Craft Center (Brookfield, CT), where I had been teaching metal clay for around five years.” (Images: “Dreamdance”)1Dreamdance NeckpieceDreamdance in blueAs one of the first metal clay teachers in the world, I asked Linda if she still teaches. “I taught workshop classes from 1996-2015, in art and craft centers and schools in The States and, in 2002, in New Zealand. I have also taught privately in my studio. I will no longer be teaching classes, but if I am asked and I choose to, I will teach metal clay, jewelry fabrication, including soldering privately.” She went on, “I have primarily always taught metal clay in its many aspects, from hollow forms to pendants, from enameling to all kinds of color, from stone setting to all types of texturing etc.” I asked her what she particularly likes about teaching. “The challenges,” she said. “And what am I most uncomfortable with teaching?… the challenges!” she laughed. “I love learning from my students. I love sharing what I know about metal clay and other skills, techniques and materials.”

Linda says she spends an average of about six to eight hours a day, five to six days a week in her studio so I asked her to tell me a bit about her studio space. “I have a full, private, working studio” she explained. “I am a tool acquisitor although I’m currently paring down the collection as I’ve retired from teaching. So my studio is equipped with a full range of equipment and tools needed to make the work I want or need to make.” (Images:“Vashti Nesting Case and Necklace”)
6Vashti Neckpiece 300 dpi 5Vashti Nesting Case and Necklace 300 dpi“One wall is devoted to kilns, one for metal clay, and one for enamelling. I prefer a small enameling kiln, uncomputerized, because I think that using a computer controlled kiln for enameling ‘ages’ the circuit board prematurely… this may or may not be true, but this set-up works for me. On this same wall is my soldering bench and an hydraulic press, along with a series of drawers for storage of tools for all these stations. On the opposite wall is my jewelry fabrication bench, forming bench, and in a u-shape set up, a bench for my flex shafts, dust collector, engraving block. Extending the legs of the ‘u’ is a bench that holds my bench shears, rolling mill, vertical vice and under that is a series of drawers that hold circle cutters, bezel blocks, miscellaneous hardware, and accessories for the flex shafts. Extending along the wall of the fabrication bench is a small reference library for benchtop use, several more sets of drawers, a sink, and a bench for a hotplate and a rotary tumbler. Facing the window in the studio is a set of drawers and a bench for metal clay/enameling work.”

“The sets of drawers I’m mentioning are the kinds of tool drawers one finds at hardware stores (and in use at garage service stations). They are infinitely adjustable and indispensable, holding everything from saw frames to glues to enamels to metal clays to kiln pads, well, everything!” “Along two of the walls is shelving, holding miscellaneous storage, CDs, CD player, books, materials, found objects, etc.” Phew, who wouldn’t love to roam through that lot?! Check out Linda’s video for her Indigogo campaign and get a glimpse of her studio. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrU7VCd2KmQ

With such an organised studio, I asked Linda if she was as organised as she sounds when she’s in full on creative mode. “I am very organized, that is, there is a place for everything, and I can generally grab what I need, because I know where it is (or should be),” she explained. “However, when I am in the midst of a project, tools and materials may not be put away right away. When things begin to pile up, I make the time to clear the decks…put everything where it belongs, so I can begin again to work with greater efficiency (and mess it up again). I do love walking into the studio at the beginning of the day and seeing that clutter. It is a reminder of how immersed I’ve been, and I kind of treasure that first impression. That aside, too much can be, well, too much, so I will start the day by rapidly placing everything in its own niche. This is a kind of meditation, a reminder to pace myself as I begin to work.”

She continued, “My studio is in a long room, the entrance to which is my main jewelry reference library for the studio. I’m a book person, preferring to learn from books, rather than videos. Actually my true preference for a learning experience is workshops, and I’ve taken a number of them over the years. At this point in my career, there are few classes that I feel I need to take, and would rather work things out on my own, when necessary. My books include: jewelry books including contemporary, ancient and ethnic jewelry, design books, ornament books, illuminated manuscript books, jewelry making books, monographs, naturalist books etc. Also on those shelves are components for future boxed pieces.” (Images“Vernalia Brooch Case”)4VERNALIA BROOCH & CASE 3Vernalia& chain vessel

I think that browsing her library would be pretty relaxing but I asked Linda what she does when she needs to relax. “Read, garden, walk, take naps, knit/crochet, go to movies, spend time with friends, write, draw,” she said, although with so much time spent in the studio, it’s hard to imagine when she gets time for relaxing!

I was really interested to find out about Linda’s creative process. Her pieces are often complex with a strong story so I asked if she did much planning before starting work. “I do plan each piece. For the major pieces that will include an enclosure or box, there is a great deal of engineering involved in order for the piece, generally a neckpiece, to rest in its enclosure properly,” she explained. “For the jewelry itself the complexity of sketching involved depends on the type of jewel. For a neckpiece and earrings, I do a complete drawing, including simplified rendering in colored pencil. For finger rings, the drawings are limited to the shape and design of the shank, with other elements worked out as the piece progresses.” (Images: Sketch and piece “Astonishing Vistas”)sketch1ASTONISHING VISTASI asked Linda to tell us a bit about her style. “I would describe my work as ‘narrative’. My pieces explore the fusion of many elements, for instance, the components, color, process or form, with the stories the objects relate to; each object speaking as a chronicle of connected imagery, symbols, and concepts that reflect an intimate symbology. They are complex and complicated structures that speak on many levels of human experience, especially humanity’s delight in the body-embellished.”

“As a result, mine are multitasking jewels, accessible on more than one level. Each jewel is essentially and intrinsically wearable art…adornment, for without that, they would not be jewels; they would be solely small sculpture in precious metal and gemstones. The engine that drives my creativity is the wearability of my work, and also the narrative quality implicit in the combined elements of each piece.” (Images: Sketch and “Mixed Messages”) sketch21MIXED MESSAGES“Therefore, there is more to my work than its wearability, however sufficient that aspect is. Aldous Huxley noted that human beings appreciate the transformative quality of stained glass windows, fireworks and gemstones. It is the possibility of that transformation that I hope to bring to the wearer of my jewels. Quite obviously, jewels are costumes; we put on jewelry as an element in which we cloak ourselves. We become the outwardness of the jewels we wear.”

Looking at Linda’s work, it is clear that she draws from a wide range of sources for inspiration. I asked her to let us in on her main influences. “Color, color, color…I’ve always incorporated multiple gemstones in my pieces, to add the vibrancy of color to my work. Recently I have been working on a series that is all about color, using vitreous enamels, and I’m finding that to be very exciting. Some primary influences are: the architectural fantasies of Brodsky and Utkin; the forms and materials of mediaeval reliquaries; the mysteries inherent in the work of William Harper, Keith LoBue and DX Ross; ancient jewels; the curiosities of Morgan Brigg; and science fiction. (Images: “Summer Breeze” and “Syncopator”)9SUMMER BREEZE 9SYNCOPATOREven more central to my work is an appreciation of historical art forms from the ancient Middle East, specifically the Fertile Crescent. The Fertile Crescent is the region in the Middle East which curves, like a quarter-moon shape, from the Persian Gulf, through modern-day southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and northern Egypt. Sculpture, jewels, written (some untranslated) languages, embellished and decorated ceramics are all influences. I feel connected to the design concepts, not in a whimsical, transmigrational way, but am drawn to the available materials and textures. I feel the same way about Sichuan ancient bronzes and their textural qualities. These interests certainly translate well using metal clay, as well as milled sheet.”

“Certainly DX’s and Harper’s influences are their freedom inherent in their design concepts, and their use of enamels, both of which I have found to be instrumental in encouraging me to break boundaries and add enamels to my work. Keith, well, he’s just Keith, where everything is fair game and nothing can be discounted and nothing can be considered too precious to mess with.”

With such a wide range of influences and some stunning work in her back catalogue, I asked Linda if she has one piece that holds a special place in her heart. “When my son was about five, he drew a caterpillar. When I began to enamel on metal clay, I made a pendant based on his drawing,” she said. Oh how sweet!

Linda uses a wide range of techniques alongside her work with metal clay. “I use the following techniques, each dependent on what an individual piece requires: Die-forming, patination, forging, soldering, chain making, cold connections (I am very fond of riveting), enameling, sawing, engraving, stamping, fold-forming, block printing, engraving etc. For my neckpieces I generally use a simple s-hook clasp normally combined with more elaborate ends to the chains.” (Image: “The Gift”) 8THE GIFTThere are some techniques which she feels are important for anyone working in metal clay to learn. “Stone setting, soldering, sawing, filing and finishing are all important skills to acquire,” she said.

Linda’s pieces are highly desirable and I asked her where she sells her work. “From a period of time when I once did 21 shows a year (four of which were trade/wholesale shows), I am now only exhibiting my work at four shows, The Paradise City Arts Festivals. I am represented by one gallery: The Diana Felber Gallery, in West Stockbridge, MA.”

I asked Linda to tell us more about the amazing body of work that she has just completed. “My love of color has pushed me farther than just the inclusion of gemstones in my work. I have been pushing myself to learn more and more about the use of enamels, and the pendant neckpieces in my current indiegogo campaign, ‘From Drawings to Jewelry’, are prime examples of that investigation.” As the largest global site for fundraisers, Indiegogo helps individuals, groups and non-profits raise money online to make their ideas a reality through crowdfunding. (Image: “This Gathering”)7THIS GATHERING“Here’s how that happened. Since doing the drawings years ago for my book, ‘Roots, Stems, and Branches; A Recollection’, so many of my jewel collectors (and others) have noted the resemblance of those drawings to jewelry, that I finally took a long, hard look at the drawings and realized they were right! It was a nice surprise to me, as I wasn’t thinking about drawing jewelry when I created those images. The artist is always the last to know, right?”

“So, over a year ago I began to explore making jewels based on the drawings, and the result was a long, exhausting, pleasurable, obsessive time at the bench, making ten pendant neckpieces. The cost in time and money was also exhausting and I thought it might be a good idea to try to offset some of the cost by starting a crowdfunding campaign. ‘From Drawings to Jewelry’ is the result of that.” (Image: “Walking Through Ancient Lives”) 2WALKING THROUGH ANCIENT LIVES“As you can see from the images, the drawings, sketchbook pages, and the pendant neckpieces themselves, color is paramount in these pieces. And color for me is enamels. Not resin, not paint, not pigment… just vitreous enamels in all their glorious colors.”

Finally, I asked Linda what she would like to achieve creatively in the future. “At my age, I want only to be able to continue to make (and sell) my work to collectors who ‘get it’” she began. “It would be nice to achieve the credibility that having the work in museum collection affords, but, since the work is designed to be worn, and since museum collected jewels are never worn, I’m rather torn on this issue. Reality Check: I have not been invited to donate my work to museums…that’s a whole other story. I think I would rather continue to see my pieces worn.” So would we Linda!

See more of Linda’s work on her website – www.lindakayemoses.com. To contribute to her Indiegogo campaign, visit her page here – www.indiegogo.com/projects/from-drawings-to-jewelry

MCAM 5.1_Page_34_Image_0001Julia Rai is a teacher, writer and artist working in a variety of media. She is the director of the Metal Clay Academy and runs the Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery. She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.

“I’d love to visit your studio!” by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc


Not my studio…

Nothing stops me in my tracks quicker than a friendly offer to come to my studio.  My studio has been a mess for years. Last summer I started the mammoth task of cleaning it up. I think it looks pretty good now, but I still fear company. I used to blame the mess. I’ve recently come to the realization that I have other reasons. (Photo is NOT my studio…this is from the magazine Where Women Create, May 2014.)

One of the reasons is that my space is very personal.  I have treasures on display…but not on public display. Rocks collected in Newfoundland, a kazoo Santa gave me, my military dog tags, a metal toy kitchen that was my mother’s, an old lamp in the shape of a green Buddha…stuff I like but that I don’t want to explain to another person why they are special. Continue reading…