Our third interview is with Terry Kovalcik from the USA. Terry’s locket “A Tear for Icarus” (2005) was the first piece that caught my eye and made me really look at metal clay. As you can see by Terry’s finalist piece for the Saul Bell Design Award, his attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship have not wavered at all.
Creative Fire: How long have you worked in metal clay? Is there one kind of metal clay that is your favorite?
Terry Kovalcik: I was first introduced to Precious Metal Clay in 1999 and have worked with it ever since. So that makes it 16 years. As for a favorite, it’s hard to say, I do find myself using the 960 hybrid PMC clay a lot lately. My approach is to pick the best clay for the job. PMC 960 works well for many different techniques, it’s strong and versatile.
Do you have any favorite tools for metal clay?
I don’t know if I have a favorite tool. I do have tools I use when working in a specific technique. My Windsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable 00 brush is my “go- to” tool for my Viscosity Painting. For carving on metal clay I use Dockyard Micro Carvers.
Have you run into any trouble or obstacles while working in metal clay?
No, if I had a problem creating something, I work on finding a solution to solve it. So far, knock on wood, I never give up and I’m determined to find a way to make it work.
Have you worked with metals other than metal clay in your jewellery making?
If you are referring to traditional metalsmithing, yes I have created jewelry in that fashion. Most of my latches and bails are created from sterling silver wire that has been hammered and forged into shape. I would love to learn more traditional techniques. My belief, for anyone in the metal clay community, is to become a well rounded metal clay artist by learning how to use traditional techniques in conjunction with metal clay—especially soldering, creating cold connections and wire work.
Could you tell us more about your Saul Bell Award piece? What were your inspirations? Did you use any special techniques?
I designed this piece with a hidden hinge and incorporated that element into the body of the locket as part of its spine. The challenge was to push myself to create all of the components—including the bail and latch—from one material, PMC Sterling. My appliquéd designs and it’s namesake, Fougéres Bébé were applied to both the front and back of the locket. The drawing was converted to vector art and cut using a Silhouette Cameo machine. My wife, Corrin, worked with me to test the machine settings and cut the elements from two-card thick sheets of PMC Sterling clay. For contrast and pop the background behind the mirror-polished appliqués was scratch-etched to create a tonal surface that would hold the kiln-fired matte (white) patina.
Has your work been influenced by any other artists past or present?
I’m always looking around for inspiration. I usually find it in the most unusual places—nature, shadow patterns, architecture, and mechanisms. For this locket, there wasn’t any direct influence but as I drew the design all of those images that have inspired me in the past are, in some way, influencing the finished piece.
Some people have marveled that Terry’s piece, “Fougéres Bébé” is really made from metal clay! “It is so slick, so perfect–how could it ever have been formed from sticky metal clay?” wrote one reader on our FB page when we first showed off his work. Well–lucky for us Terry took process photos while he was making the locket! Thank you Terry for all of the images and for the interview.