Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Peek Into the Life of a Studio Jeweler

I'm heading to Birmingham, Alabama, in two weeks for the Magic City Art Festival, and they sent out a little Q and A to post on their web site in the weeks leading up to the event. I thought the questions were interesting, and a little unusual, so I'm sharing them (and my answers) here, to give you a little insight into the world of a studio jeweler. I love this kind of stuff and can't wait to see how the other artists answered.  :) 
  1. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The physicality of actually making jewelry by hand. It's a very labor-intensive process and there's a lot of "repetitive motion" tasks that can be hard on the body. I still love every aspect of it though, from idea to implementation to "clean up" and final finishing. I love being so involved with something that someone else will love and cherish.
  1. What artist tool do you use the most? How do you use it? 
My creativity. I use it for dreaming, designing, making. But it's also my best problem-solving tool. In the studio daily I'm confronted with technical design problems to solve, balance to achieve, especially with custom-cut gems and asymmetrical designs, metal to forge (harden) and heat (soften) and I have be creative in setting up the process to best achieve the results I want to create for each design. Other tools are very useful, but it's the creativity that drives me and also makes me strive for constant improvement, in both design and creation.
  1. If you had all the time in the world to hone your craft and create work in another art medium, which would it be and why?
I might try my hand at shoe design (shoes are a second love to jewelry) but really, I would still work in the jewelry field. I'd spend time learning how to set precious stones and do even more "specialty" type work. I'd play with platinum and other fine metals, and design with the rarest and most lovely gems I could get my hands on. And I'm a tool junkie, so I'd like to play with some of the fabulous tools (like lasers and 3D printers) that would open up a whole new avenue of design.
  1. If you could make art in any city around the world, where would you go and why?
Do I have to choose just one?? Paris comes to mind...New York, New Orleans, Marrakech, Moscow...I find most places that have a defined aesthetic very inspiring. But ultimately I'd probably end up in Prescott, Arizona. It's a great "little" city with small-town charm, lovely seasons, dry desert air, and a history for me. I grew up in Arizona and have been going to visit Prescott with my family since I was about fourteen. My parents retired there years ago, and I would love to have my own studio nestled in the mountains.
  1. Do you have a favorite piece that you have created over the years? Describe it.
My all-time favorite is from a few years ago. I'd just transitioned into jewelry fabrication, and was struggling to define what I wanted to do, how I would put my design aesthetic into a whole new way of making jewelry. My creative voice felt very small and indistinct. I had a gemstone with an interesting pattern across it, and  (long story short) I ended up replicating that pattern with metal. It was the beginning of my "metal mosaics" and allowed me to set myself apart a little, to work with something that was very "me". I've had offers to buy that necklace, but it's one I'll never part with. It means too much.
  1. When you create, do you like silence or do you listen to music? If the latter, what type of music typically fills your studio?
It's a mix. When I'm hammering and filing and doing the more energetic work, I listen to everything from 80's Hair Bands to classic rock. When using the torch for more delicate soldering operations, I listen to what used to be called "alternative" in the 1990s, or instrumental music. When I'm sketching designs, I really need silence. I usually take a tray of gems and the sketchbook up to my bedroom, plump up the pillows and sit there in total quiet, to get the ideas flowing.
  1. What is your favorite snack food when you work in the studio?
Busy hands have no time for snacks! The best diet I know is to be working all day. But when I do break, I like chocolate. Sometimes just a handful of chocolate chips gets the job done.
  1. Help our collectors discover great talent! Name 3 favorite artists who you have discovered at MCAC or other art shows over the last 3 years. 
I love and collect Eric Strange's ceramics: Eric Strange Facebook
Su Abbott makes fantastic art: Su Abbott Art
And Elaine Rader is one of my jewelry idols: Elaine Rader

And that favorite piece?? Here it is:

Thanks for letting me share with you. Hope to see some of you in B'ham soon! 

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