Artist Profile: Liz Sabol by Julia Rai

Pennsylvania native Liz Sabol is a metal clay artist with a stunning portfolio. She was a finalist in the metal clay category of the Saul Bell Design Competition in 2016 with her ‘Mad Hatter’ cuff. Then this year, her necklace ‘Cheshire Cat’ won second place in the metal clay category and she told me it holds a special place in her heart. “My favorite piece so far is the ‘Cheshire Cat’,” she began. “It’s really special to me, because it shows what can be achieved when you don’t give up.”

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.

 

 

See more of Liz’s colourful and interesting work online at the following places:
Website: www.lsabol.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeadLizzy/
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/lizsabol_jewelryart/

 

 

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.

Artist Project Series: Liz Sabol Part 1

“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…

Artist Project Series: Kim Nogueira

This special series of projects by master metal clay artists is proudly sponsored by Cool Tools. (Please note: click on images to enlarge.)

The beauty and enchantment that I am surrounded by here on this extraordinary planet keeps me feeling like I never grew up. I share this child-like feeling of awe and wonder with others by adding the surprise of movement to my jewelry. I hope you give it a try too!

For this advanced project, I will be making a hollow form box pendant with a side lever that creates a seesaw movement of two figures inside. In mechanical terms, this is a fulcrum; in jewelry terms, it’s magic!  The pendant has a back panel that can be removed by a screw. Read through the instructions several times to get an idea of the steps involved and the design possibilities, considerations and challenges to watch for as you construct the piece. Continue reading…

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.” Continue reading…

Artist Profile – Iwona Tamborska by Julia Rai

As soon as I saw Polish artist Iwona Tamborska’s work, I knew I had to find out more about her. As a fan of fantasy, myth and fairy tales myself, her work really spoke to me. I asked Iwona what she considers her job title or profession to be. “That is a very good question as I noticed it is quite hard to explain,” she smiled. “I usually start with: ‘I am an artist and work with metal.’ If someone wants to know more, I continue: ‘My works are usually minimal scale sculptures and often have a use as jewelry’. I used to try to use the term ‘art jeweller’, but somehow people had the wrong idea of my work.” Continue reading…

Artist Project Series: Iwona Tamborska

The 3 Fish

This is the 5th project in our ongoing series of tutorials sponsored by Cool Tools.  All projects use their new silver metal clay EZ960™ Sterling Silver. This project is quite advanced, however, artists of all levels will learn something new! Be inspired by the way Iwona uses a drawing for the plan and layout of her pieces, or by her use of colour as she adds stones and coloured paste to this project!  Those who want to learn about hollow forms can follow along and learn about using a burn out media.  This beautiful pendant is wearable sculpture! Continue reading…

Artist Project Series- Kathy Van Kleeck

Strata Ring by Kathy Van Kleeck is presented by Cool Tools and is part of a special series of projects designed by metal clay master jewellery makers.  Kathy’s unique style and openness about her process is as refreshing as her jewellery.

(Note: click on images to enlarge)

The inspiration for this ring was born out of my curiosity about how thin I could work with the new EZ960® Sterling Silver Clay and still maintain structural integrity.  Favorite themes in my work are repetition of form and layering of elements.  The image of stratified layers came to mind and creating this effect in rings seemed like a good place to start.

I started off making what I call “washer” rings, thin and flat, but with my signature “wonky and weathered” edges.

Wearing a loose stack of the new “strata” rings worked just fine, but as a project to share seemed a bit lackluster.  The idea of joining the rings via rivets, one small to stabilize the stack and one large to secure the group, seemed like it would be visually compelling, not to mention good fun. Continue reading…