Artist Profile-Patrik Kusek

 

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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

Hot Topic: Copy-Cats

copycat
Image credit: www.mostlychelsea.com
cop·y·cat
ˈkäpēˌkat/
noun: copy-cat
-(especially in children’s use) a person who copies another’s behavior, dress, or ideas
-denoting an action, typically a crime, carried out in imitation of another.

Creative Chat with Artist Anna Mazoń

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We wanted to catch up Anna since our last interview in MCAM in the Fall of 2013.
I can’t believe it was 3 years ago already! Time flies and so many things happened since then. Thanks to Metal Clay Artist Magazine I started teaching in other countries – I travel a lot ever year and meet fantastic people all over the world. I also learned a lot of new, different techniques and refined those I already have been using. Recently I also started creating a permanent collection of my designs (in addition to my one of a kind pieces) using lost wax casting technique for making pieces from hand sculpted metal clay prototypes. This medium still excites me so much! It brings endless possibilities both for hobbyists creating things once in a while and full time businesses.in_the_eye_of_the_beholder04

Tell us how the style of your work has evolved? Where do you get your design inspirations?
I get my inspirations mostly from Nature, but understood in many different ways. Sometimes just straight from it – raw impressions, forms that I simply see during my walks or hiking trips. Trees, flowers, stones… Sometimes I find my inspiration in Nature as seen through “glasses” of ancient cultures – expressed in myths, old tales, folk songs, philosophy. I am also inspired by modern Earth­-based religions and sometimes fantasy books. Everything that explores our relation with Nature is my inspiration. Recently I am also taking a little journey inward, seeing myself as a form of a microcosm reflecting Nature. I focus on my emotions, reactions to loss and this intense longing to know the answers I will probably never know. This is still before me – I mostly have a lot of sketches, but I guess that my recent piece “Natura abhorret a vacuo” shows this direction the best.index

leshy01slavic_tales_autumn_biesGenerally I feel my style and designs are much more effortless now than there were a few years ago. I focus mostly on what I want to do, what I want to say, rather than how to do that from technical point of view. I see this tendency in whole metal clay community – more and more people are becoming really skilled in metal clay. We know more, we are able to do more. But the thing is that this is the point where real journey and challenges begin. When you can do whatever you have in your mind, then you have to face the question – what do I really WANT to do? How does is it really say “me”? What I want to say through what I do? WHY I am doing this in the first place?lunula

startled strachy_na_lachyThe style and design of your work is very recognizable. How long has it taken you get to the place that your artistic voice is so strong?
Honestly I feel that finding your own style is a process which starts far before you even think about actually creating something. It’s like a potential, a seed within you which is nurtured by your upbringing, by things that happen to you, your actions and all things around you. When you start making things – bringing them from your mind into physical plane – it sprouts. For me it felt like the most natural thing in the world – like speaking my mother tongue. I knew since I made my very first piece of jewellery that this is my style. But don’t get me wrong – the fact that you discover your style is only the beginning. This is were years of hard work (and fun!) start. You have to learn to use it in a beautiful, skillful way. Just like we can speak a language just so­ so, struggling to barely communicate or to create most beautiful, refined poems, saying words straight from your heart. For me it took years, and I feel I still have so much to learn! Exercising your artistic voice is a never-ending, exciting journey. I think that my point is that your style, your designs feel genuine, truthful, only when they come from within you, from who you are, who you are becoming during your whole life, what you actually feel. Otherwise it’s just like trying on masks in a shop. The effect might be pretty, might be interesting, but will never be true.

cobalt_faeryYou teach classes on your techniques. Do you have advice for your students about the difference between inspiration and the copying your work.
Funnily, people who try to copy my style or particular pieces are not those who take my classes or even meet me in real life. During my workshops I teach skills, certain techniques which lead every student to creating a piece that is completely different, depending on who they are, what they like, where they are on their journey of creating their strong artistic voice. It’s just amazing to see how varied are pieces made during each of my classes, even though, they are constructed using exactly the same techniques. It’s also super inspiring and humbling for me. A few days ago I came back from United Kingdom, where for the first time I taught a new, two days class, I created this year. I brought some class samples as I usually do, I thought I knew what kind of pieces I might expect from students. But then – it turned out that at the end of the class I saw a whole bunch of pieces I would never even think about in a million years! This is the most rewarding experience both for the teacher and students. That’s why I always give my students time to look at the samples, to think about what they want to make, to plan a design, I encourage them to bring their sketchbooks if they have one. I always say, that spending time on designing, even during the class, is really worth it. You don’t want to spend 2­3 days working on something that you hate ;­) or doesn’t feel right, because it’s completely not you.

index22Again – I think teaching classes, in a way is similar to language lessons. I am just trying to add some new “words” or, lets say, “grammar constructions” to my student’s vocabulary. They can use them in as many different ways as possible. We are all very different and we came from different places and this is the most beautiful thing to me. But even if you attend classes where you recreate a particular project from beginning to the end, situation is exactly the same. You don’t learn a poem by heart to repeat it over and over in random moments. You learn it because it makes you a more beautiful person. It enriches you. It enables you to maybe create something on your own.

golden_roadWe have noticed that there are imitators of your style. Some people say that it should be considered flattery. What are your thoughts?
Ha. That’s a difficult question. On purely intellectual level I believe this is, indeed, a form of flattery. But it doesn’t feel like one at all. Situations when your work is being imitated are simply super stressful, hurtful and disheartening. It feels really unfair, when you know how long was your journey, how much of yourself you put in your work, and then someone just takes superficial, visual layer of it, and recreates it. Just because they are manually skilled, and for some reason they thought it would make them successful in one way or another. In such situations you just wonder if people see the difference at all. I also wonder what a copyist have to feel. I usually choose to believe that maybe they don’t really understand what they are doing. But that’s just me :­). I can’t imagine someone consciously choosing copying if they have something to say on their own. It would be just excruciating to hide behind a mask all the time. I also wonder if such situations affect me financially – I won’t pretend – my passion is also my work and source of income. Being copied not only means having your feelings hurt, but also a possible financial loss. I think that copying is not totally bad though – personally I believe it’s ok to learn by copying, if it’s your way of learning, perfecting your skills. But then just don’t publish what you make, and definitely don’t call it your own. It’s as simple as that.knotted_tree_of_life over_the_waves

Thank you Anna for taking the time to chat with us!  Best wishes on your upcoming classes!

Where to find Anna: http://drakonaria.com/
http://drakonaria.etsy.com/
http://en.dawanda.com/shop/drakonaria

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Exciting New Tool for Metal Clay Students and Teachers

13116516_10153627138506636_1460845564940822998_oaSo often, we are asked if we know of a metal clay teacher in a certain area. All too often, the answer is “no, we don’t.” When this happens, it’s not necessarily because there isn’t a skilled teacher in the area. Instead, there hasn’t been any easy way to keep track of metal clay teachers in many years. Thanks to a joint project between Creative Fire and PMC Connection, metal clay students and teachers now have a much easier way to find each other.

The teacher map on the PMCC site is based on a past project by PMCC president Jennifer Roberts and designer Scott Benton of Cmpreshn, Inc. During the Summer of 2014, Roberts was a member of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission. Looking for a way to help convince the Dallas City Council to give more money to the shelter, she sought Benton’s help to find a way to prove to the council members that people all over the city used the shelter services more than the council believed. The map at fund- das.org was born and the pair were able to collect and present valuable data to the Dallas City Council about the location of DAS customers and the shelter services they relied on.

“We talked at the time about finding a way to adapt the technology to help put metal clay teachers and students together,” Roberts explained, “but we knew that the teacher map would need some added functionality to really be useful to students looking for teachers.” The new map combines the intuitive map interface of the fund-das site and also allows teachers to list contact information, website addresses, skills taught, certifications and other information. It can also be navigated in a number of ways. Benton, the architect of the map, described one of its key benefits. “Gone are the days of slogging through a list of teachers by state and looking for your city. With our map, you can search by zip code or navigate by using the hand tool and zooming in and out.”

There is an added bonus for teachers, who can list up to five locations. “We know that many teachers work from a home base, but also travel to teach.” By creating one main teacher profile and allowing teachers to list up to five locations within that profile, we can send potential students directly to the resources for those classes away from home. With the ability to edit and delete locations, teachers let students know exactly when and where they will be teaching.

Creating a profile is easy. Head to PMC Connection and get on the map today!

 

Are You Covered? Talking Insurance for Artists By Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

index1So as Monday’s go, today has pretty well lived up to the reputation of a Monday.  I innocently called the insurance company we’ve been with for 16 years about insurance needed for a craft show….and after an hour’s worth of questions about the shingles on our roof and the equipment I had in my studio…(I have a sewing machine, a sander/grinder and a 5 amp kiln)…my home insurance coverage was cancelled.  Awesome.  Why put me though all those questions only to cancel my policy? Was she just curious?  Maybe the agent I was on the phone with wanted to start her own home jewellery making business?

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Sample of one of the pieces of equipment used in my “manufacturing business”.

I’m sharing my story as it may serve as a reminder to check into your own insurance coverage.  Asking about coverage for a show–a show I may or may not get into–led me down the worm hole of studio insurance.

In retrospect, the questions I consider to be quite silly about my “manufacturing equipment” have made me realize that I was not insured by the right company.  We assumed going with a company that bore the same name as our bank, meant that it was part of the bank.  I’ve since learned that it is a company “associated” with my bank.  And while we saved money going with a large insurance company, we were a number and they were unknown to us. Continue reading…

Showing Up and Playing By Catherine Davies Paetz

JustShowUp_ChristinaRosalie1The other day I was at Trader Joe’s, checking out with my bags in hand. The cashier asked if I wanted to enter a drawing to win a gift card–a “reward” for bringing my own bags (as if saving our planet isn’t reward enough, but that’s another story). I almost said no, because I fill out a ticket every time and I haven’t won yet. But then I thought about the saying, “You can’t win if you don’t play,” which I often use to encourage people who ask about entering a show or submitting work to a book or event. So I filled out the ticket again.

That experience got me thinking more about entering, submitting, and the whole jury process for artists. Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” I think that goes hand in hand with “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Many people don’t even try to submit work because they don’t think their work will be accepted, or they fear rejection. But in order to have any chance of being accepted, you have to show up and play. Continue reading…

With These Hands by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

 

I make jewellery.  No wait.  I MAKE jewellery.  workingThese days my hands are never clean looking. Normally I don’t really care what my hands and nails look like. But recently while out to dinner with some friends I felt like the “one of these things doesn’t belong.”  Each of my friends had such nice nails.  Nicely painted nails, clean hands.  We were sharing sushi so I felt the need to announce that my hands were in fact “clean”.   As I said the words, I realized that I wasn’t ashamed.  The public announcement was to put the other diners at ease.  I am actually very proud of my raggedy nails and the permanent black stains.  To me it is a sign that I am working in my studio.  I am making jewellery. Continue reading…

Artist Profile: Michela Verani by Julia Rai

I’ve known award winning artist Michela Verani for a while now, having first met her at a metal clay conference in the US. She and I share a love of sci-fi and we are also both participating in the metal clay Masters Registry programme so we have lots in common.Verani - Phoenix full necklace

Visitor to the studio1Michela lives in Londonderry, New Hampshire with her furry friends, a dog called Tolliver and a cat called Yang. “Tolliver is a Bouvier des Flandres and Yang is a dumpster kitty,” she explains. “My home is at the end of a dead end dirt road and is surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods and my messy gardens.  Whenever I am at home Tollie and I take a daily walk in the woods.” Continue reading…

Metal Clay 101: Where to Begin: Choosing Your First Metal Clay By Dona Miller

101 montana-agate-pendant-Dona-Miller-DesignsWorking in a new medium can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. As anew metal clay artist, your first question may very well be “Where should I start?” There are many varieties of metal clays to choose from and where you start your journey can have an enormous impact on where it leads.

Looking metal prices, one would think that base metal clays would be the best way to get started in metal clay. However, the firing of base metals is complex and often takes trial and error to get it right. In addition, base metal clays must be fired in carbon in a kiln.

So which metal clay should you choose to start? I start my students with PMC3.

101 Donna 1PMC3 is a fine silver clay (.999 silver). True, fine silver PMC3 is more expensive than base metal clays. But the ease of working with and firing fine silver clay makes it a much better choice for beginners. From start to finish, PMC3 is the least complicated of all of the metal clays, which means that students can focus on the basics of construction, firing, and finishing without having to worry about complications created by the clay itself. Once you have those basic skills under your belt, there is an entire universe of textures and colors available to the metal clay artist.

101 mountain-night-sky-custom-silver-ring-Dona-Miller-DesignsWith all metal clays, getting the basic texture and forming in place before the clay starts drying is key. Make sure your clay is sealed in an air-tight container when not being worked, and don’t hold the clay in your hands when you are not shaping it as your skin will pull moisture out of the clay.

Most important is to stay relaxed, have fun and experiment.

Still wondering about the other varieties of PMC clay? Here is a quick summary:
PMC3 – great for beginners; can be fired with a torch; low firing temperature allows for inclusion of findings, glass, and fire-able stones.
PMC3 paste – good for joining pieces; can be used for adding texture and painted designs; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC3 syringe – good for making repairs and filling grooves; can be used for drawing, building up forms and setting stones; can be used with PMC3, PMC+, PMC Flex, and PMC Sterling.
PMC Flex – designed to stay flexible when dry; good for bending, twisting and braiding; low firing schedule and can be fired with a torch.
PMC+ Sheet – flexible and does not stick to itself; great for origami, folding and weaving; can be laminated and used with paper punches.
PMC Sterling – great for added strength and shine, must be kiln-fired in carbon
PMC Gold – great for accents; low firing temperature; can be fired alongside silver PMC and can be torch fired.

dona-n-logan-5Dona Miller: “Art, especially jewelry, is very personal.  Through the constant inspiration of nature, animals and my dogs, I interpret the spirit around me into jewelry, using my love of stones and shaping metal.  My designs and metal work incorporate the use of cut and natural stones to reflect the peace, love and joy of nature.”

Jewelry in article by Dona Miller.

“Metal Clay 101” is an ongoing series brought to you by PMC Connection and their instructors.

The Bird Who Won’t Go Away by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

 

P1230866In my opinion there are energies and forces all around.  To declare that we are separate from nature or that spirits don’t exist is to close yourself off from the wonderful vibrations of life all around.  A few years ago I learned about “spirit animals” from a jewellery artist.  I thought it was a fascinating idea.  I didn’t discount it, but I really didn’t understand it either.

Well that was until I started to have a bird follow me around for the past year.  My new friend is a great blue heron.  I started to see one every day last spring.  And in some form or another…I see a heron nearly every day.  When the first heron showed up, I was still mourning the loss of the magazine my husband and I published.  I missed the daily contact with editors, writers and contributing artists. After spending six years working on a business that was lost, not due to any errors I made, I was devastated.  The carpet was literally pulled out from under me.  I feared for our house, our finances and my family.  Our readers rallied and through contests and fundraisers they helped us recover most of our personal loss.  They saved our family. I started this site (Creative Fire) as a way to say thank you back to our community.  But I was lost.

heron logo stamp I used to be an artist.  With two little kids and the magazine, my studio was neglected.  Even without the magazine I found it really hard to get back into my studio and to get back to work.  Stresses and distractions crept into my life and making jewellery became less important.  To help me get out of this rut, a dear artist friend invited me to visit.  After making jewellery with her and enjoying some wonderful sunsets on her front deck–I declared out loud one evening that I would make jewellery.  I knew it was a long shot to make a living at art.  I had been there before.  But I was in love with the etching process she had taught me.  Ideas buzzed in my head.  I couldn’t wait to take some of my children’s drawings and to etch them into jewellery.  “Maybe that would be my new line.  Maybe I’d get back into my studio and work.”  Just then a huge heron flew inches from us making the most awful heron croaking sound.  Every day for months I saw a heron.  It didn’t matter what town or even what country I was in…I saw a heron.  Even in winter I’d see a a heron on bumper sticker or a photo online or in a magazine…every few days I’d see a heron.  Usually just when I ready to fall off the path to starting up my studio again.  It was almost a reminder to keep going.  Out of curiosity I looked up spirit birds and learned that herons show up when your life if out of balance. They remind us to follow our heart and to be determined.

Well I’m determined!  My new line is called “Sassy and Stella”.  (If you would like the back story on why I named my studio after two stray dogs from Alabama, click here.) I have a long way to go and a lot to learn about running a full-time jewellery studio business, but I’m excited at the possibilities!

Are you curious about your spirit bird?  Here is a simple chart.

Photo Credit: Heron on a beach in Florida, USA by Sandy Bowman.
Heron drawing: Sea Martini

sassyAnother of my animal friends, Sassy the dog from Alabama.

P.S. Thank you Kathleen!