Artist Profile – Anna Siivonen by Julia Rai

Swedish metal clay artist and designer Anna Siivonen has a very distinctive style which makes her work endlessly interesting if a little disturbing at times! She’s uncompromising in her subject matter and is equally comfortable producing cute or disquieting pieces. I’ve never met Anna but have admired her work for quite a while so I was really interested to find out more about her.

“I live in the suburbs of Stockholm in my grandmother’s old house,” she told me. “I live with my man, daughter, and cat. I work from home and spend most my days creating, dancing, doing yoga and hanging with my family. My childhood home is just a few kilometers from here and my mother still lives there.”

Anna has always been creative. “I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t creating in different mediums,” she began. “During the summers I spent weeks with my grandmother in the country side in Finland and she didn’t have any crafting materials so I came up with my own. Among other things I made monster sculptures with old newspapers that I wrinkled together and twisted thread around. I was an introvert kid with lots of imagination and time to kill. So I read and drew and crafted.”

She discovered metal clay quite some time ago.  “I first heard about silver clay in 2005 when I was searching the net for some information regarding ceramic clay. I got intrigued and signed up for the only metal clay class in Sweden that was available. I was blown away with the possibilities of the material but underwhelmed with the class since the teachers was nearly as new to the medium as me and didn’t seem to want to experiment and explore it as I did. The first thing I made was a G-clef that I later repurposed by melting it down to small balls that I made in to a raspberry.  I continued to explore, experiment and learn by myself and I ended up writing the first book about silver clay that was published in Sweden and Finland.

Anna works from home. “I mostly work from a workstation in our living room,” she explained. “I like to work where I have lots of lights and windows. I do the messy stuff outside when I can or in the basement.

I asked her how she creates her pieces and what inspires her. “I’m a very tactile, hands-on person, I hardly ever sketch, but when I do I mostly sketch in some kind of clay. Usually, I go straight to working in copper or bronze clay and things kind of evolve naturally. I make a rough shape with fingers, then dry it and then I add and subtract clay, carve and shape until I’m pleased.”

She went on, “I like surreal art and fairy tales, but mostly I get inspiration when making things, I start thinking ‘what if I did one like this or this instead?’ and that can lead to a whole new design. I think most of my designs are creepy-cute, sculptural and sometimes funny, so I guess that’s my style.”

Although Anna’s work is mainly metal clay, she does use other techniques to produce her pieces. “I picked up most of the techniques I use now through trial and error, weekend classes and things I read about.  Some are traditional silver working techniques, but I’ve also picked up ideas and techniques from working with ceramics, dabbling in bronze casting, glass fusing and lampworking. I solder, I wire wrap and I make things with molten silver.

Anna’s work is in such demand, she doesn’t teach as much as she did. “I used to teach more but now most of my time goes in to completing orders, making new designs and managing a small shop I run together with other artists.  I still teach a metal clay sculpting and production class that is based on the techniques I use now. But that is only for a small group that gets together once a week, a couple of times every spring and autumn season.”

She sells her work through a number of sources. “I sell a lot through Etsy, and through a couple of shops and museums here, also I run a small designer shop with three other local designers.”

She told me about her current piece. “I just completed a badger sculpted in bronze that I made by request from a customer. My favourite piece is usually the latest new design I’ve made. I love the feeling of being in the flow when creating, to take an idea and let it evolve and give it a physical shape and the satisfaction of finishing it. I love my latest design most not because it’s good or bad but because of how it made me feel when making it. Then I get a new idea and it starts again.”

I asked Anna what she’d like to achieve with her work in the future. “I just want to be able to keep supporting myself through making art. Lately, I have been working more in ceramics again; maybe I will continue on that path and make larger sculpted items for other use than jewellery.

I’m so looking forward to meeting Anna in 2017 and hopefully seeing some of her work up close.

To see more of Anna’s work, visit her online:
New How-To Project!
instagram @annasiivonen

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.

Julia Rai’s new book, Making Metal Clay Jewellery. Read our review here. 




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