Award winning artist Wendy Wallin Malinow lives in Portlandia, Oregon. “I have lived here all my life except for a brief stint in NYC,” she told me. I first saw Wendy’s work in 2010 when she won first place in the Saul Bell Design Award with a piece of work that was totally different from anything else I’d seen. Colourful, edgy with some hidden hidey-holes which called out to be explored – oh I wanted so much more than the picture gave me! There’s more about this piece later. When I was asked to interview Wendy for this profile, I was keen to find out more about her.
Wendy has an interesting career history which I got a glimpse of when I asked her what she considers to be her job title. “Well, it’s always changing,” she began. “I used to be a professional art director/ designer/ illustrator. Then a freelance illustrator/ painter/ jewelry designer. Now I think of myself as an artist/ designer/ maker.” She also gave me a few fun facts about her previous lives. “I was a disco queen at Studio 54 back in the day AND a deadhead at the same time, briefly was a leg model, and expert sudoko player.” What an intriguing woman! Continue reading…
I first fell in love with Wendy’s work when I saw it in an ad showing her Saul Bell Design Award necklace in 2010. Her necklace had so many interesting parts and it told a story. Over the years Wendy’s work has evolved and become more sophisticated. Her necklace (shown above) “Thorn Bird” was a finalist piece in 2017. Wendy created a companion brooch and is sharing her process with us. This project is presented by PMC Connection.
To begin her project, Wendy sketched ideas.
The brooch and the necklace pendant compliment each other.
Liz was brought up in Western Pennsylvania. “I grew up on a dairy farm with my six younger siblings, and was known for planting the straightest corn rows in the county. You could see from one end of the field to the other down the rows.” She currently lives in Pittsburgh. “I have two great kids, and we all love animals, so we have several different kinds of pets – dog, cats, chinchillas, rabbits, guinea pig, and fish! The crowd makes our home very entertaining, and never lonely.”
I asked her about her studio as with such a busy household I imagined that a home studio might be a bit tricky. “My studio is in my home, but was scattered all over – garage, dining room, kitchen, basement – complete chaos! I have been working to consolidate more of the different tasks to the space where my flex shaft is located – a slow process, but turning out to be much more productive all together.”
She has always been creative. “One of my earliest memories is deciding to decorate my bedroom by drawing pictures on the wall, somewhere around 1st grade. I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I mimicked my younger sister’s drawing style, and well enough that my parents believed they were her drawings!” she laughed.
I asked Liz how she discovered metal clay. “I remember seeing silver clay in the Fire Mountain Gems catalog several years before I started making jewelry,” she began. “I dreamed of trying it someday. That day came when I was looking for ends or bead caps to complement my lampworked beads, but couldn’t find any commercially available options that worked for me. So I signed up to teach some after-school art classes to students at my children’s elementary school, and used the instructor pay to purchase a kiln. The first things I made didn’t sinter correctly. It was a frustrating month of testing and research before I found a good firing schedule that worked with my kiln. After that, it was pure love!”
Liz’s work bursts with colour, beautifully blended and with great depth. I asked her to tell me a bit about her process. “My current work could be described as a form of cold-enamel Champlevé. I wanted to find a way to bring my unique drawing and doodling styles to the clay, so I developed a process to make molds from my art with plexiglass, and apply color and resin. The result is a fantasia of flowing metal lines and color.”
The fairy tale and fantasy which inspires some of her work is particularly evident in the piece which was a silver award winner in the Italian A’Design Award and Competition in 2017, ‘Sleeping Beauty’. “For my Champlevé pieces, I always sketch out the design first. Sometimes I start with a concept, idea or feeling, and sometimes I just start doodling. I can see very clearly in my mind what the final piece will look like, so I don’t make models. If a very complex piece doesn’t quite work out as well as expected, I just call it a prototype.”
Liz uses a number of techniques in her work. “When I first started out working with metal clay I found it really frustrating trying to achieve a smooth mirror finish, so I took some metalsmithing classes to learn other techniques that would help me get the final results I was looking for,” she explained.
“I make my bails in clay. Using sheet and forming would be faster, but I find the bronze stock does not match the bronze clay color closely enough. I am starting to make a variety of clasps and slides as well. I made a metal clay chain once, but that was very time consuming!”
She went on, “I don’t like to fire stones in place because it limits the metal work I can do after firing and the gemstone varieties. Sometimes I make the bezel with clay so that it is more integrated into the piece. Other times, I make a traditional metal bezel and solder it on after.”
Liz is currently developing an approach to teaching metal clay. “I just started teaching metal clay to a friend a couple months ago. No specific curriculum – I just focus the instruction around whatever specific piece she wants to make that day. I find that I’m thinking outside the box more, and trying new techniques in the process of figuring out the best way to show her how make her piece.”
Thinking about her busy home, I asked Liz what she does to relax. “Drawing new designs, trying new techniques, research, buffing jewelry on the polishing arbor, reading, watching TV, and the occasional Candy Crush fix. Maybe too much relaxing?” she laughed.
I asked Liz if she sells her pieces. “I sell my work at a couple of arts festivals, shops, and some private events. I plan to expand into more galleries and boutiques, and to open an online store soon.”
I asked Liz what she’s currently working on. “Circles are my favorite shape, as reflected by most of my pendants,” she began. “To mix it up, I’m exploring some more organic shapes. A couple new pieces along this line are in the design phase – Swanlake and Hanging Garden.”
Finally I asked her where she sees her work going. “Bigger and better!” was her simple reply.
Julia Rai is an award winning artist, teacher and writer well known in the international metal clay community. Her work has featured in a wide range of publications and she writes regularly for print magazines and online. She teaches in her home studio in Cornwall and travels to teach by invitation.
“Swanlake Pendant” by Liz Sabol is the ninth project in our series and it is proudly presented by Cool Tools using EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay. Once again we are blown away by the level of work by this master artist. In this step-by-step, Liz shares how she creates her Saul Bell Design Award winning work. Liz’s project is so detailed, we had to break her project in two parts. Click the link at the end of part 1 to go to part 2.
The basic idea of Champlevé is a design that utilizes colored depressions in a solid piece. There are many different methods available to achieve a Champlevé look. The tools and supplies needed vary vastly for each technique. You can customize the tools and supplies to suit the equipment you have available, or to the technique you are most comfortable with. I use oil paint and epoxy resin, but there are many other methods: vitreous enamel, alcohol inks, colored pencils, gilders paste, acrylic paint, colored resins, and even nail polish! Continue reading…
A solar eclipse is rare and unusual, so is this creative bracelet by Cynthia Thorton! Create something unique with this multi-media project that combines EZ960™ Sterling Silver Clay, resin, polymer clay and beads and finishes of your choice! Thank you to Cool Tools for sponsoring this series of projects. Continue reading…
In January we put out a call to those interested in a design challenge. We offered up identical boxes of vintage jewellery making supplies from CJS Sales in New York City. Each designer received the same collection and could make whatever they wanted to. The only parameters were: -You can use the materials you were sent any way you want and with any media. -Must use 4 pieces of design kit in your finished piece. (1 piece = 1 bead, 1 component, or 1″ of chain)
Twenty packages of vintage jewellery components went out to artists in 4 different countries!
Our Judge: Donna Greenberg, a mixed media artist from New Jersey. She enjoys mixing materials, colours, and textures in her jewelry and sculptures in unexpected ways. “Pairing smooth, dull surfaces with a coarse piece of glittering pyrite; delicate pearls perched in a volcanic explosion of highly textured polymer; low end man made materials paired with the luxury of silver or bronze are the kind of studies that gets my heart beating loudly. The thrill for me is in balancing these diverse elements into a cohesive statement.” Continue reading…
Syringe clay is a fun and whimsical way to add delicacy and design interest to your work. Unfortunately, most of the metal clay artists I know seem to be adverse to working with syringe clay because it can be difficult to control. It’s true for me too! However, using the water brush method described below, most imperfections in application can be easily corrected so don’t limit your possibilities. Syringe away!!
At the end of the article, Roxan has included several images of her syringe work for inspiration! With thanks to Mitsubishi Trading Materials and PMC Connection for sponsoring this special series of projects.
I have been fascinated by automata since childhood visits to the Science Museum in London. I remember turning the handle on the Archimedes screw exhibit and seeing the little man turn his own handle in time with me. As the water came up through this cause and effect, I was totally fascinated by how that worked. When I first saw Kim Nogueira’s metal clay automata I was blown away by the ingenuity of the technical aspects but also by the stories and themes behind the pieces.
Kim was born and raised in the small New England town of Northampton, MA and now lives in St John, in the US Virgin Islands. “For the past 25 years, this little island has been my home, where I raised my wonderful son,” she explained. “Two thirds of the island is protected by the National Park, and the hiking and snorkeling is fabulous here. It is a very tiny island however, measuring about nine miles by 12 miles. Elevation reaches from sea level to 1200 feet, which if you ever run or walk our annual famous 8 Tuff Mile Race, which runs through the center of the island from one end to the other, you will get to experience most of that elevation change. I have only done this once, and that was enough!”
Rachael Osborne has created with the help of Lisa Cain’s expertise, quite possibly the largest item to date in metal clay! The bowl pictured measures 290mm x 140mm (approximately 11.5″ x 5.5″).
Their epic journey began with Rachel winning the prestigious Goldsmiths Precious Metal Bullion Award in 2016. This enabled her to recreate her pewter bowls in sterling silver. As Rachael and her tutors at college pondered over the construction of such a bowl, they considered several traditional silversmithing options. Casting, Etching, Raising and so on. However, each technique presented specific obstacles. Continue reading…