INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION IN FRANCE: Metal Clay

At an invitational gallery show in France, Metal Clay jewellery by seventeen international artists is featured until June 11th. The show is the dream project for artist Angela Baduel-Crispin.  PÔLE BIJOU GALERIE in Baccarat, France will display the works for the next four months. Are you unable to travel to France to see the show?  We have a virtual tour of the show. The artists’ pieces and information is organized by country.

This exhibition is the first of its kind. It focuses on giving visibility to both this relatively new material and to artists of international renown who have pushed metal clay to it’s highest potential! Seventeen international artists (all women) each with her own their different styles and techniques. 70% of the work in the show is jewelry and the other 30% or so is composed of objects in metal clay. We were very thankful that number of artists were invited and submitted their work for the show. Selection was strongly based on originality of the work and technical proficiency.

The show started on January 16th and runs until the 11th of June. The official opening was on February 9th.

AUSTRALIA
Kim Booklass –  www.facebook.com/KimBooklassWearableArt

Tribal Warrior Woman symbolizes Every woman, at once simple and complex, guarded and protective, secure and vulnerable, functional and decorative. She stands strong, fights fiercely for her own, opens herself with love, enfolds all into her armour for both defense and nurture. Her chains are not only the ties that bind but also the connections between women around the world. Made from the very earth of Australia, Warrior Woman is accompanied by Wolf, a symbol of her visionary creator, loyal yet fierce protector/companion giving both strength and worldly knowledge.

Like every woman, Warrior Woman gives pieces of herself to nurture and enhance others, remaining whole in and of herself. Appearing to be nothing more than a statue, her armour is symbolic and trans-formative, revealing interconnected pieces of exquisite jewellery. Functional and decorative pieces include her arm guards becoming earrings; her shield, a stick pin; the bow and arrow across her back, a bracelet.

Warrior Woman was sculpted completely by hand from Aussie Metal Clay. Unlike traditional metalwork in which precise measurements remain true, metal clays shrink varying amounts during both drying and firing stages. Using five colours in two different firing temperature ranges, Kim combined beauty and functionality, seamlessly fitting the jewellery pieces, while accounting for the differences in shrinkage, malleability, and strength of the two High Fire colours of the armour and three Medium Fire colours of the body, the like types fired together. During her creation, Kim also perfected a unique metal clay glue enabling finer, more delicate pieces to be invisibly affixed.

Kim, a lifelong Australian, has been a renowned designer of dog jewellery and accessories for many years. She pioneered personalized pet sculptures using traditional metal casting techniques. A new world unfolded when introduced to metal clay. “Knowing No Boundaries” Kim’s motto, encourages her to be an innovator in metal clay. Warrior Woman’s inspiration appeared as both form and symbolism in a dream, with a personal message about life’s battles. Kim relates, “Sculpting Warrior Woman pushed me to areas I had not ventured before. She helped make me into the sculptor I am today, and for that I am forever thankful to her.”

CANADA
Suzanne McNenly –  http://suemcnenly.com

From studying economics to 20 years in the investment industry to full-time artist… “If something is holding you back from taking such a major step, start small. Work at night…weekends….whenever. Never think you can’t become what you wish to be. Find a way”.

“My love of small, detailed pieces was fueled as a child upon my first visit to that marvel of miniature engineering, the Queen’s Dollhouse at Windsor Castle. Tiny masterpieces have always tugged at my heartstrings. My homemade Barbie house was to die for, but I’m thankful my experiments with homemade braces never took off!

What began 14 years ago at an evening sculpture class at Alberta College of Art and Design quickly turned into a desire to become a full time maker. My introduction to silver metal clay a few years later allowed me to make smaller, more detailed pieces that may have been impossible using traditional fabrication techniques.

Although I have, for the most part returned to those traditional methods, I view my metal clay skills as a very valuable tool in my box.”

Vignettes are the art forms that make up most of my work. They immortalize cherished and wacky moments of my childhood……the wonky hair-do on picture day…wearing flippers around the house…learning to tie shoe- laces in the great century before velcro.

Sheep : « Let these sweet, charming ewe fly into your heart with their precious silver wings and whimsical expressions. Tiny treasures are hand sculpted from sterling silver, with round felted wool bodies. They are lovely alone, or gathered in a herd“

FRANCE
Angela Baduel Crispinhttp://www.angelacrispin.com/index.php/fr/

Angela Crispin was born in Sao Paulo to a Brazilian mother and an American father and grew up alternately between Brazil and Hawaii. In 1987 she flew to Paris to complete her studies in political science and chose to remain in France after graduation. She then decided to give her professional life a new direction devoting herself exclusively to her vocation: jewelry making and design.

She trained in Paris at BJO Formation and further trained in jewelry making and enamel at the LEI Nicolas Flamel in Paris. Thereafter, she followed several courses and certifications by Metal Clay specialists in the United States. Angela Crispin is constantly interested in new materials and new techniques.
Her work is in perpetual change and renewal, combining traditional and innovative techniques in the use of different metals that she occasionally combines with a wide range of materials such as resin, leather, Faux BoneTM, or with objects of everyday life and other natural elements. She is an internationally recognized metal clay specialist. Her work as maker/designer and Artisan of the Arts (« Artisan d’Art ») is recognized by the competent bodies in France, namely the Chamber of Trade (Chambre de Métiers) and the Ateliers d’Art de France, as well as in the USA by the PMC Guild, PMC and Art Clay World Connection, and in Europe by Art Clay Europe.

She draws inspiration from her philosophy of life, based on multicultural influences, which leads to constantly observing her surroundings to develop an inner knowledge of self and further build relationships with the world. She captures both physical and symbolic elements, from natural or man, which she then makes her own, combining them in order to reconstruct a personal and worldly representation through the original contact with the material in a contemporary interpretation.

The creative process sparks from an inner vision. Then, guided by instinct, the piece emerges, evolves and takes shape in her mind, until her hands take over to give it life in the appropriate material for the imagined object. Sometimes, on the other hand, it is a found object or a trivial subject that inspires her to imagine it out of context and beyond its original purpose and destination.

Armelle Burbaudhttps://www.facebook.com/Armelle-Bronze-Metal-clay- 655457871163459/?pnref=lhc

“I discovered metal clay in 2012 and immediately developed a passion for it. It is an amazing material, flexible, sprinkled with ribs and extraordinarily malleable. It is ideal to fulfill any whim of your imagination for modeling, sculpture and volumes. I like bronze for its color and also because it demands special techniques to design and bake it. I do not use much silver in my work, mainly because of its high price. My interest in technical matters quickly led me to create three dimensional objects such as boxes. L’Envol is the second one I made. I received an award for it from Metal Clay Artist Magazine in 2014. It is the creation I am most proud of, probably because, at the time, I made it in materially difficult conditions.

I have often used clay, making series of little balls or settings made with an extruder, which helps to create thin and regular wires just like in l’Envol. Then, I started to sculpt and carve clay with gouges or a scalpel. Sculpture has been like a revelation for me and has constituted a new step in my work. I made L’Eveil following a model I had imagined.
I conclude by saying that I like to model and sculpt birds whose wings make it possible to create beautiful movements. After the peacock, I am currently working on other series like songbirds or fantastic birds. ”

NETHERLANDS
Noortje Meijerink
–  www.noortjemeijerink.nl

Noortje Meijerink mix porcelain and Metal Clay (silver/bronze/copper) to obtain graceful objects . She’s living and working in Netherlands.

”Birds in all their freedom, gracefully gliding through the sky or proudly strutting on the ground. To capture those motions is my challenge.”

“As a ceramist I fell in love with porcelain. I prefer the craftsmanship of the throwing wheel and the precision of the sgraffito technique. Thrown porcelain pots are covered with a black engobe in which geometrical shapes or birds are scratched. After graduating in silver clay in the United States in 2003, some of the birds on my pots receive a silver wing. The combining of these two forms of “clay” is a technical challenge that’s more than worth the effort. The result is a graceful combination of matte black, bright white porcelain and lustrously shining silver. Currently my birds are becoming more and more figurative. The hand-formed porcelain bodies and heads are getting tails, necks and legs made of bronze clay or copper clay. The rich yellow hue of the bronze or the warm red of copper lends themselves perfectly to complete my proud porcelain birds.”

“Oh, to be a bird; fragile yet firm…”

Helga Van Leipsig –  www.laleipsigjewels.com

Helga Van Leipsig graduate a Bachelor “Art – Jewellery Design” on Maastricht Fine Art Academy. Then she work around 10 years as grafical designer for several company’s, before create her own business (grafical and jewellery work) in 2004. She live and work in Netherlands.
She present “Earth Collection”.

“Because of my traditional metalworking skills, I come to metal clay with the question, “What can I accomplish with metal clay that I can’t achieve with conventional techniques?”
All metal clays include moisture and some form of binder in their fresh or raw state. Because these are removed in the firing process, it follows that all forms of metal clay shrink during the sintering process. This makes it possible to incorporate elements such as other metal alloys or stones that can withstand the firing temperatures.

I have taken advantage of the fact that metal clay shrinks during the sintering to create my Earth collection. By pushing silver squares in the wet clay I mimic the furrows and ridges of a ploughed field. The back of the jewellery pieces show the shrinkage pattern after firing.
A ploughed field is soil turned around. It ensures the circulation of nutrients and aeration. Earth needs oxygen and water for the seeds to grow. The furrows and ridges that are created while ploughing form striking perspectives. We often only touch the surface. To go deeper we have to work actively to enhance our knowledge and handling skills. Repetition is key.

In the re-creation of small areas of my rural environment I discovered my language that evolves into powerful, meaningful jewellery. It are combinations of strong textures and stylized shapes. The textures are created by actively working with the clay, so fields, spaces and areas are brought into existence.
Then, they erode again, in the ever evolving landscapes.”

UNITED KINDOM
Joy Funnell –  www.joyfunnell.co.uk

Joy Funnell originally trained as a Graphic Designer and worked as a self employed graphic designer from 1981 until 1985. She began jewellery making as a hobby in 1985 working with silver wire, silver sheet and enamel. In 2006 she qualified as a Senior Art Clay Instructor and since started is own jewellery business. In 2009, she was made a Craftsman of The Guild of Enamellers and was the first person to be awarded this status by submitting all six pieces made using silver clay and enamel.

“I love colours and I love textures. These two things inspire most of my work. To see a rainbow will always bring a smile to my face. I try to be – Joy by name and Joyful by nature.
I work mostly in silver clay and I absolutely love it !
To add colour to my work I often set stones and enamel pieces. Enamelling allows me to add colour and depth to my work, and for eye catching sparkle I use small stones which are fired in place. These are laboratory grown stones and czs which are able to withstand the high temperatures of firing the silver. Some of my pieces are also set with beautiful natural stones after the firing process.

Enamelling is an art which is centuries old. Powdered glass is fused onto precious metals at high temperatures in the kiln to create a durable coloured finish. I use transparent enamels in my jewellery so the silver can shine through the rich colours. I have developed my own technique – Enamelled Accents – where jewel like colours are captured by fine silver wires on the surface of a piece to give a freestanding cloisonné effect.

By using silver clay and then enamelling it I make original jewellery which is unlike commercial high street jewellery. Mostly I create one-of-a-kind work – unique pieces for unique people. By exhibiting my work I can reach a wider discerning audience and I always hope my work will bring a smile to the faces of viewers.”

Tracey Spurgin –  www.craftworx.co.uk

Tracey trained in fashion design and textiles, working in the industry for a short time. She was always explor- ing new creative skills and techniques. She then moved onto teaching various arts and crafts in adult learning through colleges when life’s journey brought her to discover metal clay. She knew instantly this would be her devoted joy and passion!

As director, principal artist and tutor of Craftworx Studio Jewellery School in the UK, Tracey carefully and effi- ciently manages her time to promote her own studio, courses and workshops. She writes articles for jewellery magazines and works as a demonstrator for a major craft exhibition company.

“ My inspirations have come from many sources… my grandmothers “button box” which is where it all started, a curiosity for trying new things, a collection of random objects, travel from holidays where I enjoy taking pic- tures of interesting architecture, a love of the arts and crafts movement. These things together with the sur- rounding of where I live in the beautiful idyllic setting of the Yorkshire Wolds, where my studio is set on a farm – these all play a role to drive me forward.”

“So my passion is the share the wonders of working with this amazing material. I love to push the boundies of working with this material so the concept of attempting engineering in clay fascinated me, I adore creating hinged boxed and lockets in metal clay. These pieces were inspired by the architecture of a local Minster. The shape, the form and ornamentation where all details I observed on a trip around the Church.”

UNITED STATES
Barbara Becker Simonwww.bbsimon.com

Barbara Becker Simon studied Art in State University of New York at New Paltz, and then Metal and Silversmithing in University of Wisconsin at Madison, and completed her training through a variety of differents workshops (Arc and Gas Welding, Glassblowing, Lampworking, Custom Knifemaking…)
She present two necklace : Polygons and Linked.

Polygons was inspired by the shapes of the stone beads and their surface patterns. “I wanted to use metal clay beads that were compatible and had interesting contrast. The stainless steel cable adds another wonderful texture to the design and contributes to the comfort of wearing this piece. Most of the beads were constructed with dried, textured metal clay sheet in a variety of images and patterns. The sides of the angular beads were cut out and mitered before connecting them together which results in clean joints and allows the various textures on the boxes to flow visually flow into one another”

Linked was inspired by its own specific technical needs. Making hollow forms and interlocking them using metal clay is a thousand times easier in metal clay than using traditional metalworking techniques. “These hollow forms are complex to construct but result in an unusual form. The contrast between the hard-edged metal elements and the luxurious, organic quality of the pearls is very intriguing”

And the four bronze bangles, 4 Spirals/4 Triangles, Mountain Peaks, Little Details and Walk in the Woods were influenced by African motifs (Moroccan, ancient Benin civilization).” To made them, I roll out a thick piece of clay, cut out the inside circle, cut out the outside shape and let it dry. The sides and edges are sanded smooth and using carving V-shaped gouges, I incise the all-over patterns on the bracelet. It gets fired in a kiln and finished with a patina and soft shine. The surface and edges of these bangle bracelets will get more beautiful the more they are worn.”

Pam East –  www.pameast.net

Pam East is an internationally known artist, writer and teacher. Her work and instructional articles have appeared in many magazines. Her book “Enameling on Metal Clay” is considered the definitive resource for enameling on silver clay.

“My passion is combining metal clay and enamels, and igniting that passion in others. For me, the definition of the creative process is bringing rich, vibrant color to metal work and expressing different moods, feelings or visual impact through color. I began enameling on copper in 1997. In 2003 I was introduced to metal clay and was immediately captivated by the creative possibilities it represented. Metal clay is the perfect medium for enamels. With each new piece I create, I am always striving to take it farther, to push it to the next level, interlacing color and metal in new and unexpected ways. Over the years I’ve developed a wide variety of techniques to bring it all together. My latest work is a fusion of champlevé & cloisonné and Mokume Gane which is a mix of copper and silver producing woodgrain patterns.The addition of enamels to an already complex process has been as challenging as it is rewarding.. ”

Lora Hartwww.lorahart.com

She has been working with metal clay since the year 2000, and is a Senior Instructor and the Artistic Advisor for PMC Connection (PMCC). PMCC is one of the two importers of Precious Metal Clay brand metal clay in the United States.
Prior to 2000, Lora was a make-up artist working in Los Angeles, California.

“My little studio is an always changing cabinet of curiosity, populated by found objects, architectural photographs, and little containers filled with colorful gems, antique buttons and otherwise forgotten objects that help spark my creative imagination.
A long held fascination for historical decoration and architectural detail can be seen echoed in my designs. Softly glowing silver, bronze and gold gilt vessels and jewelry are warmed by velvety patinas and beautiful gemstones. Complex forms are assembled from individually hand formed elements before being finished with the delicate details that make each piece unique.

Vintage photographs may be set beneath high domed quartz to accentuate the fact that perception is often distorted when one doesn’t look at the whole picture. Tiny reliquaries and scent bottles remind us that hidden content is sometimes more intriguing than visible context.
A combination of lusciously malleable metal clay and traditional metalsmithing techniques come together to construct whatever contours my designs demand. Each piece is patinated and polished to accentuate its specific features.”

Kim Nogueirawww.kimnogueira.com

Kim Nogueira is an automaton maker and award-winning jeweler who learned the goldsmithing trade on the job as a production goldsmith and has taken intensive workshops with reknowned American enamelists and metalsmiths. She is based on the tiny island of St John, in the US Virgin Islands. She combines the mechanics and wearer intereaction of automata with the narrative power of text, found objects and three dimensional figures to create multi-dimensional stories in metal.

“Employing the traditional fabrication techniques of the goldsmith and enamelist in combination with the contemporary metalsmithing innovation of metal clay, I construct complex narratives in metal that speak to the curiosities, challenges and marvels of our time. By incorporating movement and wearer interaction with tiny automata that are activated by turning a crank, I hope to explore and keep alive the enigma that is childhood wonder as well as draw attention to the marvels of our everyday life and the preciousness of the extraordinary journey that we are all on together.

For about a decade I have collected early to mid-twentieth century vending machine toys and gumball charms, Stanhope peep charms, antique mechanical toys and lilliputian Victorian curiousities. These inspire me, and I also work directly with these diminutive oddments, making molds of them for use in my work, deconstructing them to make the mechanical figures and details in my wearable automata using the innovative material metal clay. I manipulate these to form my own narrative, integrating universal themes in tandem with the questions of my own heart.

For me, creation is intangible and magical, with a mystical element.The possibilities are infinite and manifested often, though not always, in material form. I focus on the mystical, unseen and enchanting aspects of creation in my work.”

Donna Penoyerwww.donnapenoyer.com

Donna Penoyer graduate as Certified Artisan on PMC certification program, and take part in several Art workshops on other techniques (metalsmithing, keum-boo, enameling, mixed media, etc.). Before that she study creative writing (poetry) and English literature.

“Metaphor gives us poetic, psychological, mythological, and metaphysical ways of looking at the world. I am interested in exploring metaphors and narratives that help me understand how one small story can be connected to an entire history of a planet, and that give me intuitive ways to navigate through time. Navigation and tools for staying afloat are themes in many of my pieces. The boat has become one metaphor for balance while moving forward, groundedness during surrender to the current, and the subtle work and constant adjustment required to produce a seemingly effortless glide. Dichotomies like these fascinate me, as they are charged with a practical but also emotional tension—like the strings that give a violin its beautiful sound, or the anchors that keep a tent from succumbing to the wind.

My whistle sculptures often elicit the response, “How useful these must be on a dark night when you are walking alone.” I don’t think they would be much literal protection, though I am always open to metaphorical possibilities. I have purposefully omitted the “pea” that would make my whistles sound shrill and discordant. They are more about pleasure and surprise than alarm and danger. Blowing and hearing a joyful whistle are interactive acts that keep me fully present, which is the best way I know to navigate through my life.”

Liz Sabolhttp://www.beadlizzy.com/BL/index.html

Liz Sabol studied Chemical Engineering and Art & Design in West Virginia University. She continued her education at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in Communication Arts & Illustration.
Though a relative newcomer to the jewelry world, she is a veteran in design and graphic arts. The eldest of seven children, Liz grew up on a dairy farm in Western Pennsylvania where she cultivated a lifelong love of nature, art and design. She nurtured that sensibility through the study of concert piano, chemical engineering, fine art, design, and technology. After a successful 25-year career in branding and corporate marketing, she found herself restless and sought new ways to express her artistic vision. In 2011, she experimented with intricate bead work, transitioned to the hypnotic experience of lampworking glass, and then began an exploration into metal in 2013. That journey led to a discovery and harmony she has achieved with a combination of technology and her signature organic forms. Inspired by fairy tales, fantasy and mysticism, each Champlevé piece is hand-painted and protected by resin, and hints at her love of oil painting. By combining metal with media and techniques not traditionally used in jewelry, Liz brings a different and unique perspective to metal.

PÔLE BIJOU STUDENTS

Pôle Bijou is also a training center in which you can learn several techniques (traditional metalsmithing, wax work, creativity … and also METAL CLAY). Metal Clay classes began 5 years before, and some of our students are now in their own journey … We are so please to show you some of their research

Elisabeth Le Dantec Munoz
Elisabeth was born in Lyon in 1970, she grew up in a family of Spanish immigrants and began studying foreign languages, and decided to continue her education in the university of Madrid. Back in France, she devoted fully (or focused) on raising her children.
Lisa had been interested in plastic arts for a long time when she started, by chance creating jewelry. Wishing to learn more techniques, she attended several courses in jewelry making. In this constant research for new techniques, she discovered metal clay, which was an epiphany to her, “pure creation”, “multiplication of possibilities”.
Those courses will take her to Brittany, Baccarat, through Paris. She will have the opportunity of being trained by major names in the sector of metal clay, Angela Baduel-Crispin, with whom she starts learning this new technique, and then she’ll attend the workshops of Hadar Jacobson and Holy Gage, in France.
In order to combine this particular technique with traditional jewelry techniques, she will attend a course at the Tanné School of jewelry. She obtained an official qualification from Art Clay, and continues to explore the techniques in metal clay, a product constantly evolving.
To her, the technique mastery of the material opens limitless possibilities for creation. It is also the satisfaction of creating something from beginning to end. From clay, sometimes a powder that you mix, knead, shape, carve, you get the object that you had imagined.

Evelyne Thiery www.evelynethiery.com

Evelyne Thiery lives and works in Épinal (Vosges).
A course of self taught, supplemented by various training courses as and when and according to his needs and research (natural paintings, plastered Earth Chaux, techniques of jewelry ) and of course formations around metallic clay. She likes to approach the jewerly in a shifted way, not only according to her appearance. Aesthetics, but also by basing its manufacture on the use of unusual materials, precious or not…

She will present two collections:

-Plic Ploc, representation of the impact of a drop of water striking the surface of the water and the propagation of the wave that follows….The oxidation of the texture underlines the variations that the liquid undergoes.

-Pearl of water, depiction of the morning dew in equilibrium on reliefs. The dew clumps to form the ultimate drop….

With thanks to Angela Baduel-Crispin and PÔLE BIJOU GALERIE for sharing information and images about the show.

Artist Profile – Marco Fleseri by Julia Rai

Chicago based jewellery maker Marco Fleseri has been working with metal clay since 2003. “I made some crude dangly shapes and textured them using the point of a toothpick,” he told me. “I knew it had potential, particularly for creating things that would be difficult or impossible to produce using previous/ traditional methods.”

I asked Marco about his earliest memory of being creative. “When I was five years old I made some blobs that I thought resembled fish, using a papier-mâché I had fashioned by soaking crumpled facial tissue with glue. I sculpted the shapes and let them dry. I was later dismayed when I put my ‘fish’ into a bowl of water and they dissolved.”

Marco’s studio is in a building with other artists and I’m always interested to find out how organised other people are. “My studio is usually somewhat organized, unless I have several projects happening simultaneously.” I can relate to that!

Marco told me a bit about his creative process. “Sometimes I sketch things if I’m not sure how to execute them, in order to solve design challenges. Or if I have an idea for something that I know I might not get to for a while. Otherwise, I get an idea and immediately launch into making it. Sometimes the finished piece varies wildly from where my imagination started.”

He uses a combination of techniques to create his designs. “As metal clay is more expensive than working with sheet, wire, etc. I often use traditional metal-working techniques in conjunction with metal clay in the same piece.”

I asked Marco what influences his work. “Geometry, shapes, and patterns found in nature, machinery, architecture, and ancient art and adornments. I look at all of these, and make new variants on the shapes and combinations that resonate with me.”

So what is his style? “I don’t have a singular style, but rather three: very biological/organic, geometric/mechanical, and ancient/ethnic. I find all three satisfying for different reasons, and they keep my work from all looking the same.

Marco has done some teaching and I asked him about it. “I’ve taught beginning metal clay workshops and would like to do more of that. It’s fun watching students see the potential for what’s in their hands, and the excitement of seeing their efforts realized as metal objects.”

I asked Marco if he has a favourite piece of work. “My Helios pendant, which for me in 2009 was a triumph of combining the techniques of fabrication, metal clay and stone-setting.”

Finally, I asked Marco where he sees his work going in the future. “I would like to do more stone-setting, as I have collected some beautiful specimens that I want to include in upcoming work. I’ll go wherever the voices tell me to go…” he said with a smile.

To see more of Marco’s work, visit him online here…
www.fleseri.com
www.instagram.com/marcofleseri
www.facebook.com/Marco-Fleseri-Jewelry-103354306353/

Julia Rai is a teacher, writer and artist working in a variety of media. She is the director of the Metal Clay Academy and runs the Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery. She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.

So you wanna sell your jewellery?? (Part 1)

12552325_163727650661795_2052323012_nLast month we ran a survey for our readers and there were some really great comments and questions.  One theme that repeated itself was about “making a living” at selling your work.

Here are a few of the reader questions:
“How can I make a living at my art?”
“How do you balance a personal life, regular work and creative time?”
“Does anyone make a living selling metal clay jewelry?”
“Can you make a living as an artist when you work with metal clay? This question could be asked to any “regular” person, like you and me ;)!”

I could have asked any of these questions! So I’m not the expert with the answers.  But I have done a bit of research and I have some resources to share. The first thing I’d like to address comes from a conversation about these very topics with my father.  He told me to “never pay too much for an income” and to “make a life, not a living”.  Sage advice from a person I admire.  I think his words address the question someone had about balancing work life and creative life. You can become a slave to your work even if it is your calling and by consequence miss out on family and friends. Many artists throughout history have sacrificed for their art. I have struggled with “work-life-balance” myself.  I’ve had to choose what is the most important–not just to me but to my family and so creative time often gets missed even though working in my studio is like breathing for me. I decided that I’d never regret giving the time to my children.  They won’t always be around but my many unfinished pieces of “art” will be there.index4

Question: “Does anyone make a living selling metal clay jewellery?”
Yes, I think there are artists who do!  However, given that the job of “artist” lacks a regular pay check, artists have to rely on many revenue streams. Artists living off their craft work hard at marketing their work, they sell on many platforms such as shops, online and shows, they teach, and most have varied jewellery lines and some sell products.  I would encourage you to find artists pages online, their sites and so forth and see how hard they work at “making a living”.

Question: “I would love to ask many of the high profile artists for more detailed information on how they achieved such name recognition/built their business in this community. And, if it supplies their full income, possibly even in the absence of a lot of travel teaching.”

This short talk by Paul Klein about finding your niche, removing obstacles and finding a mentor provides a great answer to the above question.

“Artist and career advisor Paul Klein emphasized the importance of being different.  He insinuated that distinctiveness generates sales–even more so than quality.  “Can’t all of us name artists who are doing really well monetarily, whose work we think sucks?”  The branded artist doesn’t necessarily produce better work, but more bankable work.” Quote from this article in Forbes.

In “Part 2” I’ll find answers to the questions about the nuts and bolts of business such as inventory, tracking, descriptions of work.

quote-to-make-living-itself-an-art-that-is-the-goal-henry-miller-130-94-16My closing comment is to be yourself.  I know that sounds so cliche. But it’s so true. I’ve been looking at metal clay jewellery for over a decade. (gasp) and I can almost without fail look at a photo of a piece of metal clay jewellery and tell you the name of the artist (and if I’m wrong–usually that person was the “inspiration” for the work). We need more work that stands out.  In another article I found on Forbes by Jessica Hagy she shows why weird can be bankable. Yes…be weird, but let your own distinct artistic voice show in your work!

Image credit for opening image: Location Pillar in the stairwell of the UT Austin Art Building was up for two weeks

JFL HeadshotJeannette Froese LeBlanc is working on becoming a distinct and profitable jewellery designer.  From her studio in rural Ontario, Jeannette tries to balance life as a mom of two (very) active children and earn a living from her jewellery.  You can find her work online and in several boutiques. www.SassyandStella.com

Artist Profile: Gordon K. Uyehara Interviewed by Julia Rai

indexMetal clay artist Gordon K. Uyehara has been a well-known presence in the metal clay community for as long as I can remember. He was always one of the first people to offer help and advice to newbies through the Yahoo metal clay forum which he also helped moderate. When I was setting up the Metal Clay Academy website in 2007, Gordon was one of the first artists I approached for permission to use images of his work on the site and he was instrumental in helping to get the project going.

e616081b3da1c51c74fa9dc2f9b82910The first time I actually met him was at a conference in the UK in 2008. Taking a class with Gordon is a study in clean and neat working! My workspace is always chaotic but my over-riding impression of watching Gordon’s demonstrations was how cleanly he worked. He is a quiet, thoughtful artist and teacher and being in his presence was a lovely, calming and supportive experience. Continue reading…

Artist Profile: Cindy Miller Interviewed by Julia Rai

2016-branch-with-labradorite-and-drops

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been an admirer of Cindy Miller’s work for a long time so I was really happy to have the opportunity to find out more about her for this profile.

(Photo: “Branch with Labradorite and Drops” Necklace by Cindy Miller)

Raised in Alabama, Cindy is now a full-time studio artist. “I’m single and live in Athens, Alabama with my Maine Coon Cat Taz – she’s a big girl and ‘helps’ me a lot,” she smiled. “I have also been adopted by several feral cats that live in the neighborhood so I always have an escort to my car. I live on the Tennessee River next door to my sister and her husband.  They have created a beautiful retreat at the river and being there is very relaxing.”

cindy-miller-taz-helping(Photo: “Taz helping”)

Growing up in Huntsville, Cindy credits her parents for nurturing her creative spirit. “I’m not really sure how old I was but it must have been around five years old because I was sleeping on the top bunk bed (my sister got the bunk below),” she began. “I woke up one morning and decided to draw eyes all over the wall.  I can remember being fascinated with the shape of eyes and I guess this was how I was working through it in my mind. There must have been 50 eyes on the wall.  You can imagine the surprised look on my mother’s face when she came in to get us up for the day.  Luckily I had parents that were very patient when it came to creative expression.  I never got in trouble for drawing on the wall or cutting off my mom’s drapes to use as material for my doll’s clothing, or any number of things I did as a sprouting artist…they just made sure I had more art materials around.”

cindy-miller-french-court-necklace(Photo: “French Court Necklace” by Cindy Miller) Continue reading…

Artist Profile – Linda Kaye-Moses Interviewed by Julia Rai

1Khaleema Neckpiece 300 dpiLinda Kaye-Moses has been a leading light in the metal clay community since its earliest days. I first encountered her on the Yahoo Metal Clay Group, the original community forum for metal clay artists, which was the go-to place for information and answers before Facebook came along. A regular contributor to the group, Linda’s posts in response to questions were notable by their thorough and considered answers, always based in her personal experience and depth of knowledge. (Image: “Khaleema Neckpiece”)

7THE WAY INI first met her at one of the PMC conferences in the US and when I was setting up the Metal Clay Academy website in 2008, she was one of the first artists I approached for permission to include her work on the site. We met up during her vacation in Cornwall in April 2016 and she showed me some images of her latest body of work which is amazing. She agreed to be the subject of an artist profile for Creative Fire and has given us permission to show you this new work which is really exciting. (Image: “The Way In”)

A studio jeweler, Linda lives in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, USA with her husband Evan who I had the pleasure of meeting when they were in the UK in April. “My husband, art photographer Evan J. Soldinger, and I have been married 39 years,” she told me. “When we met several years before we married, we were both performing folksingers, and we met on a piano bench at a music party, while I was playing a ragtime tune on the piano. He joined in on autoharp and we became instant friends. His thoughts at the time were, ‘she’s a really interesting woman, but she’s wearing too much jewelry!’” She continued, “Evan became a loving stepfather to my daughter and son, Jude Roth and Adam Michael Rothberg. Jude is an actress and screenwriter, who has produced a number of award-winning shorts. Adam is a singer/songwriter who can play anything with strings and keyboard too, with five CDs out and working on a sixth. He also produces and performs on albums for other musicians.” (Images: “A Yodh for Exodus”)1A Yodh for ExodusPendant 1A Yodh for Exodus Brought up in Manhattan and Queens, New York, Linda has been an artist all her life. “I was constantly drawing as a child and when I was seven I drew a collection of women’s hats. I also attended summer camps, beginning when I was four until I was 15, and eagerly participated in their arts and crafts programs, weaving, potting, and just making anything and everything.”

You may be surprised to learn that Linda hasn’t always earned a living from artistic pursuits though. “I was once, during a period of time before jewelry making, a correctional officer counselor in an offender educational training program.” She discovered metal clay very early in its development. “I read Tim McCreight’s first article in 1995 in one of the trade periodicals here in The States, and was intrigued by the potentials inherent in the material,” she explained. “In 1996 Kevin Whitmore (from Rio Grande) demonstrated PMC Standard at the Society of North American Goldsmith’s conference that year, and I was compelled to buy my first package of it.” Her first impressions of it? “I was nothing short of blown away. I knew that it would allow me to add elements to my repertoire and was anxious to bring it home with me and fire it instantly.” (Image: Winter’s Blue Promise Neckpiece”)1Winter's Blue Promise Neckpiece 300 dpiaI asked her what she made first. “I decided I wanted to fire stones in PMC (seemed like a great idea), and having nothing but an old enameling kiln, I made a simple earring, jammed a small sapphire into it, and fired away, kiln-sitting while the kiln heated up and down, opening the door to allow the temp to stabilize, turning the control up and down, praying to the kiln gods, for two and half hours (just to be sure).”

“After that experience, I decided I needed more information (oh yeah!). At the time, I was Head of the Jewelry/Metals Department at a local Art Center, in charge of programming classes, so I call Tim and asked for an instructor of metal clay. Fortunately, Tim was able to arrange for Fred Woell to come teach. Fred’s class was the very first class in PMC to run in The States. I set up the class, filled it to overflowing, with a long waiting list, and scheduled a second class. When I called Tim about finding an instructor for the second class, he invited me to participate in a Master Class, so that I could teach metal clay. And… I was off and running.”

“During the first three years of teaching, I taught 21 classes, all in The States. This was in addition to running the department at the Art Center, plus exhibiting my work at shows!!! However did I survive that???” she laughs. “Around 2001 I curated the first juried exhibition of metal clay in The States, Millennial Metal at The Tendler Gallery at Brookfield Craft Center (Brookfield, CT), where I had been teaching metal clay for around five years.” (Images: “Dreamdance”)1Dreamdance NeckpieceDreamdance in blueAs one of the first metal clay teachers in the world, I asked Linda if she still teaches. “I taught workshop classes from 1996-2015, in art and craft centers and schools in The States and, in 2002, in New Zealand. I have also taught privately in my studio. I will no longer be teaching classes, but if I am asked and I choose to, I will teach metal clay, jewelry fabrication, including soldering privately.” She went on, “I have primarily always taught metal clay in its many aspects, from hollow forms to pendants, from enameling to all kinds of color, from stone setting to all types of texturing etc.” I asked her what she particularly likes about teaching. “The challenges,” she said. “And what am I most uncomfortable with teaching?… the challenges!” she laughed. “I love learning from my students. I love sharing what I know about metal clay and other skills, techniques and materials.”

Linda says she spends an average of about six to eight hours a day, five to six days a week in her studio so I asked her to tell me a bit about her studio space. “I have a full, private, working studio” she explained. “I am a tool acquisitor although I’m currently paring down the collection as I’ve retired from teaching. So my studio is equipped with a full range of equipment and tools needed to make the work I want or need to make.” (Images:“Vashti Nesting Case and Necklace”)
6Vashti Neckpiece 300 dpi 5Vashti Nesting Case and Necklace 300 dpi“One wall is devoted to kilns, one for metal clay, and one for enamelling. I prefer a small enameling kiln, uncomputerized, because I think that using a computer controlled kiln for enameling ‘ages’ the circuit board prematurely… this may or may not be true, but this set-up works for me. On this same wall is my soldering bench and an hydraulic press, along with a series of drawers for storage of tools for all these stations. On the opposite wall is my jewelry fabrication bench, forming bench, and in a u-shape set up, a bench for my flex shafts, dust collector, engraving block. Extending the legs of the ‘u’ is a bench that holds my bench shears, rolling mill, vertical vice and under that is a series of drawers that hold circle cutters, bezel blocks, miscellaneous hardware, and accessories for the flex shafts. Extending along the wall of the fabrication bench is a small reference library for benchtop use, several more sets of drawers, a sink, and a bench for a hotplate and a rotary tumbler. Facing the window in the studio is a set of drawers and a bench for metal clay/enameling work.”

“The sets of drawers I’m mentioning are the kinds of tool drawers one finds at hardware stores (and in use at garage service stations). They are infinitely adjustable and indispensable, holding everything from saw frames to glues to enamels to metal clays to kiln pads, well, everything!” “Along two of the walls is shelving, holding miscellaneous storage, CDs, CD player, books, materials, found objects, etc.” Phew, who wouldn’t love to roam through that lot?! Check out Linda’s video for her Indigogo campaign and get a glimpse of her studio. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrU7VCd2KmQ

With such an organised studio, I asked Linda if she was as organised as she sounds when she’s in full on creative mode. “I am very organized, that is, there is a place for everything, and I can generally grab what I need, because I know where it is (or should be),” she explained. “However, when I am in the midst of a project, tools and materials may not be put away right away. When things begin to pile up, I make the time to clear the decks…put everything where it belongs, so I can begin again to work with greater efficiency (and mess it up again). I do love walking into the studio at the beginning of the day and seeing that clutter. It is a reminder of how immersed I’ve been, and I kind of treasure that first impression. That aside, too much can be, well, too much, so I will start the day by rapidly placing everything in its own niche. This is a kind of meditation, a reminder to pace myself as I begin to work.”

She continued, “My studio is in a long room, the entrance to which is my main jewelry reference library for the studio. I’m a book person, preferring to learn from books, rather than videos. Actually my true preference for a learning experience is workshops, and I’ve taken a number of them over the years. At this point in my career, there are few classes that I feel I need to take, and would rather work things out on my own, when necessary. My books include: jewelry books including contemporary, ancient and ethnic jewelry, design books, ornament books, illuminated manuscript books, jewelry making books, monographs, naturalist books etc. Also on those shelves are components for future boxed pieces.” (Images“Vernalia Brooch Case”)4VERNALIA BROOCH & CASE 3Vernalia& chain vessel

I think that browsing her library would be pretty relaxing but I asked Linda what she does when she needs to relax. “Read, garden, walk, take naps, knit/crochet, go to movies, spend time with friends, write, draw,” she said, although with so much time spent in the studio, it’s hard to imagine when she gets time for relaxing!

I was really interested to find out about Linda’s creative process. Her pieces are often complex with a strong story so I asked if she did much planning before starting work. “I do plan each piece. For the major pieces that will include an enclosure or box, there is a great deal of engineering involved in order for the piece, generally a neckpiece, to rest in its enclosure properly,” she explained. “For the jewelry itself the complexity of sketching involved depends on the type of jewel. For a neckpiece and earrings, I do a complete drawing, including simplified rendering in colored pencil. For finger rings, the drawings are limited to the shape and design of the shank, with other elements worked out as the piece progresses.” (Images: Sketch and piece “Astonishing Vistas”)sketch1ASTONISHING VISTASI asked Linda to tell us a bit about her style. “I would describe my work as ‘narrative’. My pieces explore the fusion of many elements, for instance, the components, color, process or form, with the stories the objects relate to; each object speaking as a chronicle of connected imagery, symbols, and concepts that reflect an intimate symbology. They are complex and complicated structures that speak on many levels of human experience, especially humanity’s delight in the body-embellished.”

“As a result, mine are multitasking jewels, accessible on more than one level. Each jewel is essentially and intrinsically wearable art…adornment, for without that, they would not be jewels; they would be solely small sculpture in precious metal and gemstones. The engine that drives my creativity is the wearability of my work, and also the narrative quality implicit in the combined elements of each piece.” (Images: Sketch and “Mixed Messages”) sketch21MIXED MESSAGES“Therefore, there is more to my work than its wearability, however sufficient that aspect is. Aldous Huxley noted that human beings appreciate the transformative quality of stained glass windows, fireworks and gemstones. It is the possibility of that transformation that I hope to bring to the wearer of my jewels. Quite obviously, jewels are costumes; we put on jewelry as an element in which we cloak ourselves. We become the outwardness of the jewels we wear.”

Looking at Linda’s work, it is clear that she draws from a wide range of sources for inspiration. I asked her to let us in on her main influences. “Color, color, color…I’ve always incorporated multiple gemstones in my pieces, to add the vibrancy of color to my work. Recently I have been working on a series that is all about color, using vitreous enamels, and I’m finding that to be very exciting. Some primary influences are: the architectural fantasies of Brodsky and Utkin; the forms and materials of mediaeval reliquaries; the mysteries inherent in the work of William Harper, Keith LoBue and DX Ross; ancient jewels; the curiosities of Morgan Brigg; and science fiction. (Images: “Summer Breeze” and “Syncopator”)9SUMMER BREEZE 9SYNCOPATOREven more central to my work is an appreciation of historical art forms from the ancient Middle East, specifically the Fertile Crescent. The Fertile Crescent is the region in the Middle East which curves, like a quarter-moon shape, from the Persian Gulf, through modern-day southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and northern Egypt. Sculpture, jewels, written (some untranslated) languages, embellished and decorated ceramics are all influences. I feel connected to the design concepts, not in a whimsical, transmigrational way, but am drawn to the available materials and textures. I feel the same way about Sichuan ancient bronzes and their textural qualities. These interests certainly translate well using metal clay, as well as milled sheet.”

“Certainly DX’s and Harper’s influences are their freedom inherent in their design concepts, and their use of enamels, both of which I have found to be instrumental in encouraging me to break boundaries and add enamels to my work. Keith, well, he’s just Keith, where everything is fair game and nothing can be discounted and nothing can be considered too precious to mess with.”

With such a wide range of influences and some stunning work in her back catalogue, I asked Linda if she has one piece that holds a special place in her heart. “When my son was about five, he drew a caterpillar. When I began to enamel on metal clay, I made a pendant based on his drawing,” she said. Oh how sweet!

Linda uses a wide range of techniques alongside her work with metal clay. “I use the following techniques, each dependent on what an individual piece requires: Die-forming, patination, forging, soldering, chain making, cold connections (I am very fond of riveting), enameling, sawing, engraving, stamping, fold-forming, block printing, engraving etc. For my neckpieces I generally use a simple s-hook clasp normally combined with more elaborate ends to the chains.” (Image: “The Gift”) 8THE GIFTThere are some techniques which she feels are important for anyone working in metal clay to learn. “Stone setting, soldering, sawing, filing and finishing are all important skills to acquire,” she said.

Linda’s pieces are highly desirable and I asked her where she sells her work. “From a period of time when I once did 21 shows a year (four of which were trade/wholesale shows), I am now only exhibiting my work at four shows, The Paradise City Arts Festivals. I am represented by one gallery: The Diana Felber Gallery, in West Stockbridge, MA.”

I asked Linda to tell us more about the amazing body of work that she has just completed. “My love of color has pushed me farther than just the inclusion of gemstones in my work. I have been pushing myself to learn more and more about the use of enamels, and the pendant neckpieces in my current indiegogo campaign, ‘From Drawings to Jewelry’, are prime examples of that investigation.” As the largest global site for fundraisers, Indiegogo helps individuals, groups and non-profits raise money online to make their ideas a reality through crowdfunding. (Image: “This Gathering”)7THIS GATHERING“Here’s how that happened. Since doing the drawings years ago for my book, ‘Roots, Stems, and Branches; A Recollection’, so many of my jewel collectors (and others) have noted the resemblance of those drawings to jewelry, that I finally took a long, hard look at the drawings and realized they were right! It was a nice surprise to me, as I wasn’t thinking about drawing jewelry when I created those images. The artist is always the last to know, right?”

“So, over a year ago I began to explore making jewels based on the drawings, and the result was a long, exhausting, pleasurable, obsessive time at the bench, making ten pendant neckpieces. The cost in time and money was also exhausting and I thought it might be a good idea to try to offset some of the cost by starting a crowdfunding campaign. ‘From Drawings to Jewelry’ is the result of that.” (Image: “Walking Through Ancient Lives”) 2WALKING THROUGH ANCIENT LIVES“As you can see from the images, the drawings, sketchbook pages, and the pendant neckpieces themselves, color is paramount in these pieces. And color for me is enamels. Not resin, not paint, not pigment… just vitreous enamels in all their glorious colors.”

Finally, I asked Linda what she would like to achieve creatively in the future. “At my age, I want only to be able to continue to make (and sell) my work to collectors who ‘get it’” she began. “It would be nice to achieve the credibility that having the work in museum collection affords, but, since the work is designed to be worn, and since museum collected jewels are never worn, I’m rather torn on this issue. Reality Check: I have not been invited to donate my work to museums…that’s a whole other story. I think I would rather continue to see my pieces worn.” So would we Linda!

See more of Linda’s work on her website – www.lindakayemoses.com. To contribute to her Indiegogo campaign, visit her page here – www.indiegogo.com/projects/from-drawings-to-jewelry

MCAM 5.1_Page_34_Image_0001Julia Rai is a teacher, writer and artist working in a variety of media. She is the director of the Metal Clay Academy and runs the Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery. She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.

Artist Profile: Jennifer Kahn Rich by Julia Rai

This interview appeared in the 2nd anniversary issue of Metal Clay Artist Magazine in 2011.  We loved Jen’s work then and continue to follow her career as a jewellery designer.  (Note: New pieces from 2016 appear at the end of the article along with contact information to see the entire collection.)

MCAM 2.3_Page_37_Image_0003MCAM 2.3_Page_37_Image_0001Jennifer Kahn was born in Miami, Florida and spent her childhood in Marietta, Georgia. At age 10 she moved to Westchester, New York, where she lived until she left to attend the University of Vermont. As she put it, “I seem to have slowly worked my way up the East coast, despite hating the cold!”

MCAM 2.3_Page_37_Image_0002I asked Jen about her earliest creative memory. “My mom would say that it was the way I dressed, mixing colors, patterns, putting outfits together at a very young age. She gave me the freedom to be creative in everything I did. I loved to draw, paint, pretend, decorate things, build forts and create exotic mud stews. I remember making copper jewelry in camp and really loving it.” Jen told me that she always has loved making things and working with her hands but that she didn’t take those activities seriously until she was in college. “I was an English major and wrote poetry, but I didn’t know how those things could have real world applications. I loved my art classes more than anything and my teachers were very encouraging, so I switched to a double major in English and Art. I took every art class available but nothing quite struck me. I knew I liked working small and I most liked the working properties of clay. After working with PMC for a while, I knew I wanted to be a jewelry artist.”

MCAM 2.3_Page_36_Image_0005 MCAM 2.3_Page_36_Image_0004Jen discovered PMC in 2000 during her senior year at the University of Vermont while she was working at the Frog Hollow Gallery in Burlington, VT. “They carried Celie Fago’s amazing jewelry. When she was the featured artist of the month they had a wall of photos of her working with PMC and a display showing a lump of PMC and her finished work. All I could think was, ‘This made that?’ I couldn’t believe such a material existed and it was coming along at a perfect time in my life. I loved the fact that you could work it like clay but that the finished piece was pure silver. I also loved jewelry, so the idea of making my own was very exciting.”

MCAM 2.3_Page_36_Image_0002 MCAM 2.3_Page_36_Image_0001Jen didn’t take to it instantly, though. “Initially I ordered some [PMC] and started working with it in the air, sculpting a little moon. It was drying and cracking before my eyes and the whole experience was very frustrating. I asked my pottery teacher to fire it for me and he was a bit put off [about] using the huge kiln to fire this tiny little cracked moon. I took Celie’s class a few weeks later and learned to work on top of Teflon and under a sheet protector to delay the drying and cracking. The pieces were fired in a small jewelry kiln. By the end of the class I felt confident about working with this strange stuff.”

That experience changed Jen’s life. “Upon graduation I became Celie’s live-in apprentice and teaching assistant and I accompanied her on her travels around the country and abroad,” Jen explained.

MCAM 2.3_Page_35_Image_0003 MCAM 2.3_Page_35_Image_0002I asked Jen what influences her work. “I’m drawn to and inspired by primitive and ancient artifacts and adornment because of the meaning infused into them. These pieces tell stories. They are connected to rituals, history, the land; they carry powers of protection, prosperity. They are culturally rich and full of identity. These days, it’s hard to feel connected, to feel meaning. Everything is so
anonymous and mass-produced. I like the idea of reaching back into time, reaching out into distant lands and pulling those primitive styles forward, adding my voice and giving them a contemporary edge.”

She continued, “I’m fascinated by the way things are put together –patched, hinged, riveted, stitched – and often incorporate such connections in my pieces. I gather inspiration from a pattern on a textile, the texture of a leaf, beautiful, old rusty things. I’m constantly trying to fuse old and new, industrial and natural, urban and ethnic.” Jen cites her Journey Necklace as a good example of her influences.

MCAM 2.3_Page_36_Image_0003Jen does most of her work at a desk in her room. She’s just now setting up a studio space in a spare room for her flex shaft, kiln and torch. “I end up doing a lot of wire work and finishing at the kitchen table by the fire – Vermont winters are long and cold!” Her favourite tool isn’t much of a surprise: “Celie’s Nesting Tube Set! She makes a set of brass tubes in eight different sizes that all telescope on a beautiful spiral holder,” Jen explains. The tubes are used for cutting holes or small clay circles.

Her creative process is interesting and she sketches out designs whenever inspiration strikes. “I keep a few sketchbooks. I’ll start one and too much time will pass so I’ll start another, and before I know it I have three half-used books sitting around. More often I’m sketching on the back of receipts or envelopes. My sketchbooks aren’t organized at all. I guess I think of them chronologically and can find things that way.” “Some ideas spring from designs I’ve made already. I like to take [existing] pieces that I make in new directions. When I need inspiration I search the web and through books on ancient and ethnic jewelry. I also flip through fashion magazines. Sometimes an idea will just come to me while I’m driving or as I’m falling asleep. I’ll do a quick sketch and try it out the next time I work.”

MCAM 2.3_Page_35_Image_0001She uses several different techniques in her work. “I use wire work – lots of bead wraps. I love stitching with wire and making metal clay bases for things I can add wire to. I also love riveting.” I asked her what other skills she felt were important for metal clay artists to develop. “Basic metalworking skills: fusing, soldering, cold connections. The more skills you pick up, the more complex your jewelry will become.”

I asked Jen what advice she would give someone who is new to metal clay. “Well, this really is a tip for any artist. Celie told me early on that it’s important that every part of a piece has been thought about. She would say that the back is another opportunity for creativity. For this reason, many of my pieces are reversible. It is a joy to watch people turn my pieces over and be surprised by the other side.” Her necklace with nine large, bezel-set Chinese turquoise cabochons is a perfect example; the backs of the settings are as beautiful as the fronts. I asked her how she constructed this impressive piece. “All the stones were set after firing. The backs of the settings were textured and the bezel walls were made with PMC Sheet. I made the settings 118% bigger than the finished size so that the stones would fit right in after firing. Then I set them as a metalsmith would with a bezel pusher and a burnisher.”

MCAM 2.3_Page_35_Image_0004Jen’s work has appeared in several prestigious publications. “I wrote several articles on setting stones in PMC after firing, followed by a chapter on that subject for Tim McCreight’s book PMC Technic. I was so honored to be a part of that! I also have work in Tim’s book PMC Decade and in Robert Dancik’s Amulets and Talismans. Last year I wrote a chapter on fabric earrings for a Lark book [by Marthe Le Van] called Stitched Jewels and my work was on the cover!” Jen also has won a couple of awards. “In 2003 I won second place in a national juried exhibit by Fred Woell called ‘Positively Precious Metal Clay’.

jk2

She sells her work through several venues. “I have an Etsy shop and I sell my work at an outdoor Artist Market in Burlington on Saturdays from May through October. I also have my work in a lovely accessory boutique in Burlington called Trinket and I do a few local holiday craft shows and trunk shows.” I asked her what tips she had for artists who want to sell their work in the same way. “If you’re selling online, take fab photos. If you’re selling at a craft show, find or make great displays that jive with your work. And for selling in shops, approach shops/galleries very professionally and creatively. Remember, every part of everything is an opportunity to be creative! Use letterhead with an image of your jewelry on it. If you’re delivering work in a box, make the box beautiful. These are all chances to show how passionate and how good you are and to impress that on people.”

jkFor more information about Jen and to see more of her work, visit her web site at www.jenniferkahnjewelry.com or her Etsy shop at www.jenkahn.etsy.com.

 

 

 

Julia Rai iMCAM 5.1_Page_34_Image_0001s a teacher, writer and artist working in a variety of media. She is the director of the Metal Clay Academy and runs the Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery.

She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.

 

Artist Profile-Kathy Van Kleeck by Julia Rai

Kathy Van Kleeck“I was born and raised in Florida, a very suburban, milquetoast, upbringing,” Kathy says. “Considering that upbringing, I find my aesthetic a miraculous transformation and am deeply grateful that I somehow managed to transcend suburbia,” she smiles. “I call my style of jewellery Urban Primitive. It took years to get that dialed in, but I think it perfectly describes my work.”

6, moon goddess kathy van kleeckImage: “Moon Goddess” by Kathy Van Kleeck. Fine silver PMC3 and BronzClay, hand-hewn lapis lazuli nuggets, artisan lampwork glass by Barbara Metzger on leather cord. Metal clays were oxidized straight out of the kiln and not polished or tumbled.

She’s been creative from an early age. “There’s the really early mud pie phase, but my first efforts at actually making something would be when I was about six or seven and my grandmother taught me to sew on her Singer treadle sewing machine. Not sure how I reached the treadle, but I’ve been sewing ever since. I was hell bent on becoming a fashion designer. Now I’m relieved that never happened and I still enjoy making my own clothes.”

She continued, “I was pushing 40 when I began making and selling my jewellery. Before that, my resume reads like a novella. I worked in clothing retail, was a department store buyer at 19 and assistant manager of a mall store boutique at 21, then moved on to more clerical work, working in offices, then banks and real estate lending. My favourite job title was File Librarian for the Medicaid Billing System for the State of Florida … talk about a paper pusher! I’m a firm believer it’s never too late to discover and follow your bliss.”

Kathy considers herself to be a designer/maker rather than a jeweller. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband. “Dave and I will have been married for 36 years in July 2016. We currently share our home with one senior citizen kitty, 18 year old Miss Zoe. Last year we bought a classic mid-century, concrete block and terrazzo floors ‘atomic ranch’. It’s an east/west orientation and has the most wonderful morning and afternoon light, perfect for leisurely mornings sipping tea and reading the NY Times.”

Her work is so unique, I asked her what her main influences are. “It kind of depends on what I’m making. My more minimal CORE body of work tends to be inspired by patterns in nature and clothing. Repetition of form is a regular theme in my work. How many ways can I use just one element? And in clothing, I’m kind of obsessed with a whole genre of European and Japanese designers whose work is raw and somewhat avant-garde.”

“I get a regular dose of inspirational juice via the designers I follow on Instagram and Pinterest like Jaga Buyan (http://www.jagabuyan.com/), Kapital (http://kapital.jp/, Yohji Yamamoto (http://www.yohjiyamamoto.co.jp/en/), Marc le Bihan (http://www.marc-lebihan.com/), Avant Toi (http://www.avant-toi.it/), Rundholz (http://www.studiorundholz.com/).”

“My Urban Primitive work is inspired by the ornament of ancient cultures of the South Pacific, Oceania and South America as well as Japanese folk potters. And for general visual juice, the NY Times Style magazine and the Wall Street Journal monthly magazine always have at least one little inspiring bit of something.” I asked Kathy which of her pieces she feels reflect these influences best. “My ‘Stacked Cubes’ necklace is an excellent example of the clothing/repetition inspirations and ‘Aegean Muse’ very much speaks to the Oceania/tribal influences.”

3,stacked cubes kathy van kleeckImage: “Stacked Cubes” by Kathy Van Kleeck. Hadar’s low shrinkage steel and BronzClay on hand-plied linen cord with fossilized bone fragments.
4, aegean muse kathy van kleeck
Image: “Aegean Muse” by Kathy Van Kleeck. Fine silver PMC3 with assorted gems and artifacts.

Like many of her contemporaries, Kathy first heard about metal clay in the article in Ornament Magazine in the 1990’s. “I can honestly say that article changed my life,” she explained. “It was about the first group of makers with Tim McCreight at the helm, set up for a week or so by Mitsubishi at Haystack School in Maine.

Coming from a clay and pottery background and having no real interest in traditional metalsmithing or fabrication, it was literally a dream come true.” “My clay background was immensely helpful – no fear of kilns! Late ’97, I bought a 100 gram lump of original PMC, hauled out my clay tools and dove in with a tiny clay test kiln with manual controls that I rigged up with a digital pyrometer. I had to watch the temperature and dial down the controls until I could get it to hold at 1650 for the 2 hours. Tedious, but that was long before there were any small, affordable digital kilns. I think the first things I made were some dangly bits for earrings and beaded necklaces.”

1, first metal clay earrings kathy van kleeck 2,mixed beaded necklace kathy van kleeckImages: First metal clay earrings and mixed beaded necklace by Kathy Van Kleeck.
She went on, “I was a founding member of the PMC Guild, got my PMC Certification soon after it began and used to teach quite a bit. I was the first person to teach metal clay workshops at the John C Campbell Folk School in NC as well as the long running ArtFest retreat in WA.”

“I loved sharing the excitement of my beloved metal clay. It was like being a wizard and sharing alchemical secrets. My interest in teaching waned once all the different types of certification started happening and metal clay began to catch on. It was becoming too competitive and I turned to the quiet of my studio and being a maker. I’m often asked if I teach and still think about diving back in. I’m just not sure what I could share that would be new or inspiring. I’d love to hear any feedback or ideas your readers might have.”

She continued, “My way of working with metal clay is decidedly different from most of what I see online in the forums and in publications. In the earliest days, I dove into testing the limits of metal clay using the techniques of my handbuilding clay background. I created elaborate constructs, like the ‘Scabbard Pendant’ made from fine silver PMC+ and 24k gold; holes in the lid are the result of diamonds burning up in the kiln. I found out about a week later that diamonds start to burn up around 1250F. What I initially perceived as a disaster worked out nicely as it allows a peep into the locket!”

8a, scabbard pendant kathy van kleeck 8b, scabbard pendant detail kathy van kleeckImage “Scabbard Pendant” by Kathy Van Kleeck
“A few years later I made my ‘Fairy Box’ made using PMC3 with a white beach glass knob and glass frit accents. The silver fumes the white glass, turning it amber in the firing.”

9, fairy box kathy van kleeckImage: “Fairy Box” by Kathy Van Kleeck

“These are what I think of as my fancy, ‘look at what I can do’ show pieces. Each new version of metal clay allowed an expansion of techniques and experiments which led to my jewellery getting more and more elaborate as in my ‘Vertebrae’ collar.” This is PMC3 and white beach glass fumed by the silver, recycled glass beads wrapped with PMC3 strips, and the pendant is beach glass and glass frit. It’s all lashed together with linen.”

10, glass vertebrae kathy van kleeckImage: “Glass Vertebrae” by Kathy Van Kleeck
“Then I reached what felt like maximum capacity in my work. I had begun to see things that I wanted to translate into my jewellery, especially difficult since a great source of inspiration was world music videos. I mean really, how would I go about translating the feeling I got from those videos into jewellery? But those videos had a look and feel that I wanted in my work. Two in particular, Juno Reactor’s ‘God is God’ (https://youtu.be/v8LY2VgiikE) and Gjallarhorn’s ‘Suvetar’ (https://youtu.be/-e_7C99bOgU) were pivotal in helping me identify the style I was aiming for.”

“In August of ’05, with family visiting, I was out of the studio for several weeks. When I went back to work, something clicked and everything changed. Layers of complexity were peeled back and I started making components that were as minimal as possible, which led to my signature piece, ‘Coin Necklace’ using PMC3 and silk cord.”

11, coin necklace  kathy van kleeckImage: “Coin Necklace” by Kathy Van Kleeck
12, rustic portal kathy van kleeck“I wanted to celebrate the clay, not hide it. I wanted someone to look at a piece and see my fingerprints, the edges that had been nudged and smushed, the smeared openings where the clay had been pierced. I wanted them to look at the piece and know it was different, created in the magical, alchemical way of metal clay. This ‘rustic portal’ component sums up everything I love about metal clay. “

I asked Kathy about her creative space. “My studio is in my home,” she began. “I work at all hours and whenever inspiration strikes which would make having an outside studio less than ideal. I tend to be a neat freak when I’m not working. But in the midst of creating a new piece or series my worktable can look like an explosion went off. I’m in my studio most week days. I start off with my mondo mug of PG Tips, getting caught up on emails and a bit of social media and then try to be working by 10. I’ll work until it’s time to start dinner, usually around 5. I try to take weekends off with my husband, but if I’ve got a big order or a show in the queue, I’ve been known to work 12 or 14 hours a day for the duration until I’m done.”

5, worktable kathy van kleeckImage: My 8’ long worktable, scavenged from an old elementary school where I rented studio space in 1994

13, thoughts made real kathy van kleeck

The nature of Kathy’s work is pretty organic so I was interested in how much planning goes into each piece. “I sketch a bit, but not much. I’m more likely to write descriptions of ideas with very rough sketches. In addition to bigger focal elements, I like to make a whole bunch of components, lots and lots of the same element. My CORE group of work is all about repetition of form and it’s always a joy to sit at my worktable working out all the ways an element can be used.”

“For the Urban Primitive pieces, I sit down to my worktable, see where my gaze lands and start pulling out gems and artifacts and bits and bobs. It feels very much like composing through improvisation. I assemble my palette and let intuition guide me. The completed piece is always a delightful surprise.”

As such a lover of metal clay, I asked Kathy if she used any other techniques in her work. “I do utilize some silver smithing skills, mostly very simple soldering with a butane torch and easy solder paste,” she explained. “I make all my own findings, ear wires and clasps. My variation on the “S” hook is forged and soldered. And cord, golly do I love making cord. I’ve taught myself how to ply cord into various thicknesses in lengths up to 6’ or 8’ and, via YouTube, how to braid 3 and 5 loop cords. The loop braided cords are time consuming and the length is limited by my arm span, not much as I’m 5’2”, but they are complex and lovely and a nice complement to my more minimal pieces. The cords in combination with hand cut leather and stitching provide a beautiful, earthy element to the work.”

I asked Kathy if she had a particular piece of work that really means something to her. “I remember the first big piece I sold. It was called ‘Le Monde’. It was a statement piece of graduated, highly textured original PMC beads alternating with artisan lampwork glass Basha beads by Barbara Metzger and Rory Ross’ raku beads. I was at a really teeny local craft show and had the piece with me, basically for show. A couple I knew, well known collectors and art patrons, wanted to buy it. I was stunned. ‘How much was it?’ Uhhhh, $800? SOLD! I packaged the piece up, sent the lovely couple on their way and then promptly burst into tears. I felt like I had truly arrived.”

7, le monde kathy van kleeckImage: “Le Monde” by Kathy Van Kleeck

I asked Kathy to tell me a bit more about where she sells her work. “At first, I sold my jewellery at juried craft fairs and wholesale to small galleries and women’s boutiques,” she explained. “In ’06 I designed a lovely little wholesale collection and connected with a team of sales reps. Through what was then the Gift Show circuit, they got my work into museum stores like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Seattle Art Museum and high-end craft galleries like Real Mother Goose in Portland, OR and the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite.

I’m really proud of the fact that at one point I had close to 50 wholesale accounts, all done by me, all fine silver PMC. I supported our family and put my husband through his first librarian certificate degree with my jewellery. These days, I have a couple of galleries that I still work with, but now I sell my work mostly through my own website.”
landscape rings kathy van kleeck
landscape trio 3 kathy van kleeckImages: “Landscape Rings” and “Landscape trio 3” by Kathy Van Kleeck

I asked Kathy what she is currently working on. “Interesting thing, this question and it’s got me quite gummed up. I’ve been developing a new group of jewellery with the working moniker of Bare Bones, looking to the ornament of very primitive cultures for inspiration and how to loosen up my already minimal work, make things less pristine. I’m exploring how I can further deconstruct what I do, make it less refined, almost crude, but still wearable and durable. I thought I was moving right along on this recent track, but deciding on an image to share stopped me dead. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of tweaking, more exploration and revisiting some themes of past work.”

“Whatever I do next, it will be the most authentic expression of my aesthetic to date and since it’s all still very much in my head, I don’t have any images to share. As of right this moment, the ideas feel very fresh and exciting, making me want to step immediately away from this keyboard and get to work!”

She went on, “PMC3 remains my favourite metal clay as it allows me to work very dry, folding and layering components till they barely hold together. To a lesser degree, I also use BronzClay and Hadar’s Steel. I’d like to do some larger, focal pieces in combination with other mediums. Right now, concrete is calling to me and maybe fused glass or eco resin or some combination of all of the above mediums and metal clays. A lot of what I do is pretty minimal and rustic. I want to go even further with that, in the vein of “art brut”, create work that is raw, but full of heart and life, work that is stripped to the absolute and essential core, but fully resolved and engaging.”

ruby landscape ring kathy van kleeckImage: “Ruby Landscape Ring” by Kathy Van Kleeck. Sterling PMC, patina is straight out of the kiln and a result of how it was situated in the charcoal. The intention is for the ring to develop a “personal patina” as the ring is worn over time, polishing is not encouraged.
Finally I asked her where she sees her work going in the next five years or so. “I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer set long range goals. Through my 20 + years of making jewellery, lots of goals and aspirations have come and gone, many have been met, others have lost their significance or priority. An example, for years I was a huge fan of Ornament Magazine and had visions of being on the cover. But a few years ago that shifted, I gave away my huge magazine archive, dropped my subscription and now rarely buy the magazine.”

“Ultimately, I will always be a maker, working with my hands and creating, staying open to new things and new avenues of expression. I hope that whatever I make, along with the intentions of love and respect I put into everything I do, will be well received. I’m enormously grateful that my maker’s journey continues, no end in sight.”

To see more of Kathy’s work, visit her website http://www.kathyvankleeck.com/

12347681_10154340055124045_4667653997826735386_nInterview Author: JULIA RAI is a teacher, writer and artist working in a variety of media. She is the director of the Metal Clay Academy and runs the Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery.

She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.

Artist Profile: Véronique Roy Interviewd by Julia Rai

Honeycomb necklace 2

I was introduced to the work of Canadian artist Véronique Roy by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc and as soon as I saw her pieces, I knew this would be an interesting article. There is a simplicity and purity about her work that is so attractive, I really looked forward to learning more about her. Veronique was brought up in Montreal and now lives in a small village in the Laurentians which is a mountainous region in Québec, Canada.

“I consider myself as a creator, a maker and a jeweller. Also a businesswoman!” she told me. Her studio even has a name! “I work from a small workshop on the edge of the forest, in my backyard. To get there, I have to cross a little stream that runs through the land. The workshop was built three years ago, with the help of my friends. As my work was encroaching too much on the living space of the house, it was time for a change and to have an exclusive space for Brelokz (the name of my studio).” How cute is this snowy little house, like something out of a fairy tale?Workshop under the snowa

Véronique has always valued her creative side. “Creativity has always accompanied me in how I see life. When I look at things, my eyes capture details that can escape others at a first glance,” she says. “From the beginning, I felt that metal clay would play a central role in my professional development.” I asked her about her first experience with metal clay. “I discovered metal clay almost six years ago. I attended a training course to learn basic silver clay techniques. I immediately fell in love with this somewhat capricious material which allows working in so many different ways. I remember that my first piece (a pendant) was not at all to my taste, but it was a model that was required for certification in the course.”

I find the organic nature of Véronique’s work really aesthetically pleasing. “My creative process can find its initial spark anywhere! Ideas can germinate without my noticing it. Sometimes when I am taking a walk in the forest, or even when I am reading a newspaper article,” she explained. “Nature is my primary source of inspiration. Besides living in a small village in the countryside surrounded by mountains, I also have a personal interest and a formation in herbalism. These played an important role in paving the way to create jewellery from nature’s textures. One day, I was tending to my garden, and saw a tomato leaf wrapped around my finger, which brought a clear image of a leaf ring! Step by step, I started using leaves for my pieces. The four leaf rings are the first pieces that defined my artistic process. I consider them as the basic image that represents my collections. They capture the essence of nature. Simply.”4 Leaf Bronze Rings

“Initially, I started with medicinal plants thanks to the influence of my herbalist background. Then, I started looking for plant textures suitable for the material. Gradually, I evolved towards other materials, always keeping contact with my initial source of inspiration. Honeycombs found their way to my heart and imagination. Oak bark and coral were to follow. I use the materials as simple and pure as possible, without too much transformation, in order to preserve their primary nature. As a result, the essence of nature is captured in metal, eternally.Bark Bracelet
Honeycomb necklace 1
I asked Véronique about her creative process. “When the idea is there, I have to find the source material, and usually make it into a mold. As I only work from organic textures, I have to preserve them to be able to work with them even in winter, when they are buried deep in snow. After the mold is ready, I experiment, try, and test. As soon as I find the form and the finish that I wish to bring out, I go for it. Thus a new collection starts to see the day; quite simply. The process rarely involves designs or notes, but is mainly created in my mind and by taking action. This is also similar to how I live my life. If I have an idea, I have to put it into action as quickly as possible; otherwise, the idea loses its breath and lustre. Living with the passion of the moment!”

Véronique likes to keep her creative process somewhat separate from the rest of her life. “I am in the workshop to for the creation process, whereas I have an office at home for complementary processes such as packing online orders for mail,” she explained. “The workshop is the place where magic takes place, and each piece is created from A to Z. While I try to keep regular weekday work hours, in the period of exhibitions (about 15 shows a year) I usually work double time! You can call me someone organised in chaos, which is clearly reflected in my workspace. Forget the Pinterest image of a well decorated workshop, mine is quite far away from that. I make a big clean-up three times a year (!!!)”Workshop1

I asked Véronique to describe her style. “I like to follow trends from a safe distance as I don’t like them to influence my work. Trends come and go, changing in the blink of an eye, and sometimes enjoying rebirth after many years; whereas I prefer to create by remaining true to myself; thus my pieces remain timeless. I consider my style to be timeless, organic, and even pagan to a degree! Simplicity and beauty of nature is reflected on each piece.”

Véronique uses several other techniques in the production of her work in addition to metal clay. “I make my own earring hooks and rings. I recently started collaborating with a company where I have some of my pieces cast in .925 Sterling Silver. This new way of working allows me to give more time for the creative process while somewhat cutting down on the time required for production. A few pieces of my Oak Bark collection will also be offered in gold as of 2016 summer, thanks to a jeweller working with traditional techniques who helped to open a door for a new path!”

I asked Véronique what she does to relax. “Travel, discovering new places, new faces,” she began. “Last year, I had the chance to visit Costa-Rica. This summer, I intend to visit Turkey, and I dream about visiting Spain next year. This, for me, is a way to open the gates for inspiration and restoring the energy that is somewhat depleted come spring (winters are long in Québec). Therefore, I prepare my backpack and hit the road. I also like to read and go to music shows.” I asked her if she wore her own jewellery when she is travelling, or even day to day. “I love jewellery, I create them, but I only wear small bronze studs,” she laughed.

So where does Véronique see herself going with her jewellery creation? “I would simply like to continue finding inspiration,” she said. “Sometimes, around the month of January, I feel like the well is dried up and I will never have any more ideas! It is winter. The high season of shows has just ended, the excitement has waned, and I feel the need to think about the spring and new collection ideas. I ask myself whether I will be able to find new ideas, and continued inspiration is what I wish with all my heart!” She sells her work in several places. “I sell online, through my Etsy shop. My creations can also be found in several stores that sell works of Canadian creators. And I sell in exhibitions all over Québec and Ontario. I believe that by participating in shows throughout Québec and Ontario, I help demystify this material in the eyes of the public and traditional jewelers. I hope to continue doing this and presenting my creations while introducing the material so that one day people will get to know it better. I see myself continuing to work with this material as long as I have fun doing it, because, above all, it is the pleasure that keeps the passion going!” Absolutely!

Finally, I asked Véronique what she is currently working on. “At present, I am working on my Oak Bark collection as well as a small series of jewellery created from Lilac twigs.”Lilac Twig silver ring

It was such a pleasure to spend a little time getting to know Véronique and I look forward to seeing her new work in the years to come. To find out more about Véronique, visit her here…
www.brelokz.com www.facebook.com/Brelokz.Bijoux

www.instagram.com/brelokz https://www.etsy.com/shop/Brelokz

MCAM 5.1_Page_34_Image_0001

JULIA RAI is a teacher, writer and artist working in a variety of media. She is the director of the Metal Clay Academy and runs the Cornwall School of Art, Craft and Jewellery. She finds inspiration in science fiction and fantasy and loves a good story where disbelief can be suspended in favour of wonder. Her practical and ultra-organised side is always vying for attention alongside her creative and messy side. Each is trying hard to learn from the other and live in harmony.

Artist Profile-Patrik Kusek

 

2016_SBDA_PatrikKusek_Model-11

Patrik Kusek placed 2nd in this years Saul Bell Design Award in the Metal Clay Category.  I had a chance to ask him a few questions about his piece and his studio work.

2016_SBDA_PatrikKusekIN3 2016_SBDA_PatrikKusekIN2Creative Fire: Can you tell us about the inspiration for your Saul Bell Design Award winning piece?
Patrik Kusek: The piece if part of an ongoing series of work that deals with my mother’s dementia. Molds were made from 18th century plaster cameos called Tour Cameos. I used these to create each of the cameos in the necklace. Tour cameos were collected by Europeans while on their “Grand Tour” As long as 3 years were spent aboard learning about different cultures. I used the Tour Cameos as a metaphor for my mothers life. The fractures and spotty gold represent my mothers memory which is fading away.

CF: Could you have imagined today’s level of metal clay work 10 years ago? Do you think there will be the same level of technical advances in the next 10 years in metal clay art?
PK: I  could not have imagined the beautiful work that is made from metal clay today. When I first started using metal clay I could count on one hand the really great metal clay artists. Now we are fortunate enough to have wonderful artists world wide and the new generation is pushing creativity to it’s limits. I don’t think there will be much more advancement in metal clay. There might be smaller achievements but not breakthroughs of the past few years. Metal clay is just a material, and the focus for the future is expressing artistry through the medium of metal clay.

CF: Do you have any advice for a new to metal clay jewellery maker?
PK: Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, we all make mistakes and with metal clay you can always reconstituted, recycle or refine it.
 
CF: You teach classes on your techniques. Do you have advice for your students about the difference between inspiration and the copying your work.
PK: It’s a thin line to walk sometimes because we encourage our students to copy our work in class but primarily to learn the technique. However they should take the technique and use it to express their own vision. Inspiration is a starting point, a jumping off point to express the idea. A good artist will put there own unique voice into the piece.
 
CF: What 5 tools do you always have on your bench?
PK: JUST 5????? JoolTool, Dockyard Carving tools, Textures rollers, Water, iPad for music or movies or CNN.

CF: What is your favourite quote?
PK: I don’t really have a favorite. It’s more like my favorite for now…”Commit to Mastery” I like this because it applies to just about any medium. As adults I think we can get too bogged down with being perfect right out of the gate. We need to remind our-self to take our time to really learn the process. If we commit to mastery it becomes a life long process not just a weekend workshop.
 
CF: If you could spend a day with any artist (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
PK: Picasso, Paris, 1920’s — need I say more?
 
CF: What’s next for you? (Art shows, lectures, new work….)
PK:I have a couple of videos coming out soon with Interweave. Base metal mosaics and micro mosaics. I love these techniques used in the video they are dramatic yet straightforward.
Thank you Patrik for taking the time to share your responses to our questions.  And once again, congratulations on your award.  Your design is stunning.
Reference: To see more about the Saul Bell Design Award and all of the winners and finalists: http://www.saulbellaward.com/Winners/Year/2016