Monday’s are not all bad! Let’s start off the week with something really good. Holly Gage is a never ending river of good things! As a teacher, mentor and motivational speaker she has touched many lives. She has been a supporter of Metal Clay Artist Magazine before our first issue came out! I think we chatted at the Art Clay Conference about magazines in 2009. Over the years she has had images in the gallery and she has contributed articles. Maybe some of you remember this piece from an MCAM gallery? Below is our fifth interview with the Saul Bell Award finalists in the metal clay category.
Creative Fire: How long have you worked in metal clay? Do you have a favorite brand or metal?
Holly Gage: I’ve been working with Metal Clay since 2002. When I first saw it, I wasn’t sure if it was silver toned clay or what it really was, but when I found out it was real metal I was intrigued. My lack of ability and control over it made my introduction a bit chilly, as my first pieces seemed thick and unrefined. I put it away for some time and came back to it after a period of time giving it one more try. Learning by trial and error how to refine it made all the difference in the world. My favorite clay type is the Silver, whether it be Fine Silver, 960, or Sterling, I love the color of the metal, the varying lustrous colors and patinas you can achieve to finalize the look to match the tone of the subject matter.
Do you have any favorite tools for metal clay?
My favorite tools are usually the simple ones. My number 2 taklon brush, my pin tool, and a handmade rubber tool I’ve designed for smoothing and tamping clay into my deep handmade molds.
Have you run into any trouble or obstacles while working in metal clay? Have you worked with metals other than metal clay?
I started my interest in jewelry making when I was 13. Metal Clay wasn’t around then, so it was the traditional sawing, soldering, and hammering. For me, Metal Clay has freed the obstacles of creating because of its ability to be molded and formed. I often feel like I am making small sculptures in miniature. Several of the techniques I use combine metalsmithing with Metal Clay, which is the perfect balance of skills.
Could you tell us more about your Saul Bell Award piece? What were your inspirations? Did you employ any special techniques?
The Saul Bell piece is a love story expressed in dance. The pose you see is the final movement in the lover’s dance. As their love grows, they emerge from a blossom. Many expressions of art inspire me, but the art of dancing and the graceful movements of dancers in motion tell a beautiful poetic story I wish to capture in my piece.
A technique I developed called, Repoussé Effects in Metal Clay is used to make the piece. After the main forms are made, I carve into the piece with various tools to create the detail. The large pearl is bezel set, the Sun Stone is set in a square Metal Clay tube, and the small pearls are each set on a stem. Pearls add romance and signify the purity of the dancer’s love. I wanted to complement the softness of the pose with the soft peach color of the Sun Stone and the subtle sparkle of the cut hematite. Finally, it is strung with faceted hematite, and closed with a hand carved closure.
Were you influenced by any other artists past or present?
Although not a jewelry artist, Georgia O’Keefe, has influenced me from an early college age. Her big beautiful flowers are meant to show the intricate detail, flow, and grace of the subject. I love her vision and expression of form along with her interpretation of life.
You can see nature in much of my jewelry, my forms echo the original, and I try to capture the flow of the lines, the symmetrical interiors, and the details I see in the textures which drew me to the dried up pods, moss or flower in the first place. I do not enlarge them as Georgia O’Keeffe did to get your attention, but I do encourage people to pick the jewelry up to observe the intricacies and take a closer look.
My jewelry often tells slice of life stories. Observations of things I find in the woods on a walk; sitting by the pond watching the Koi; or places of culture I have been while on teaching trips. I enjoy showing my students how to use the small inspirations in their own life to create art as well.
Thank you Holly for sharing details about your piece with us. Best of luck to all five finalists! We can’t wait to hear the results!