Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy New Year

Due to the fact that I am in Arizona visiting family, blogging has not been on the top of the list lately. I will be back Jan. 2nd with a studio visit post about Michael David Sturlin. In the meantime, Happy New Year. My visual world has been filled with a lot of this type of thing. The hands are itching to get back into the studio very soon.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And the Clock is Ticking

I was locked out of my blog for a while this week, while Google made sure I wasn't a spam blog. In the meantime, I am getting everything together for pre-holiday shipments. I have been making a special pair of cufflinks, a couple of custom rings, and a last-minute group of work for a gallery. There is a lot to do, but it is the gallery owners who are out of breath when I talk to them on the phone.

Wrought Massive Bracelet One
blackened silver

In the meantime, I figured out a strategy for photographing my newest bracelet (above). I bought a tube of white stage makeup, and applied it to my arm. Since I fit the bracelet onto my own arm as I made it, it seemed appropriate to use my arm as a photo prop. I have a new appreciation for makeup artists, as I has to apply the makeup four or five times to get a reasonably even color. Now, I am thinking about other pieces that might benefit from this photo treatment. After all, the jewelry comes alive when it is worn as intended, not when it is sitting on a sheet of white paper.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A little thing that means a lot

Pendant of a unified Iraq

I heard this story in the spring, many months ago. It struck me, because sometimes in the middle of my frenzied jewelry making, running to the post office, making sure all of my bills are paid up, I start losing the connection that jewelry has for the people that wear it. For all of the brave Iraqi women wearing this pendant, you are in my heart, I think of you as I work.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A very new bracelet

This bracelet was completed just a few short hours ago. I haven't figured out how to make the photograph convey just how dimensional it is, and of course, I will never be able to show all of the sides at once.

The material is blackened silver, and the name has yet to be decided. I have a simple hinge on one side, and the bracelet stays closed by means of two tabs that stay in place through the tension of one part of the bracelet on top of another. It is a heavy piece, but I think the weight can give one a feeling of power and confidence.

I am going to experiment with more photography for this piece and will post the results when I finish.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dungeon in the sky

Artists will sometimes go to extremes for a cheap studio. I was one of them, and now that I look back at my first studio, I think of it as the Dungeon in the Sky.

One would think that I would have been taken aback by the appearance of the building. I think that it would be hard to find a more foreboding building. I once saw signs on the lamppost outside reserving the parking spaces for the crew of CSI. Yes, this is where they hide the bodies.

To add to my discomfort with the atmosphere in the building, it was, at the time, only occupied on part of the eighth floor, a fraction of the fifth floor, and there was a moving company in part of the first floor. The front door was also unlocked at all times.

With my studio on the eighth floor, I had to walk up through the empty building, since all of the freight elevators were broken, walk across an empty wing of the building, with just a lightbulb hanging on a string in the middle. Once in, I would lock the door behind me as fast as possible with my heart pounding. Then I would proceed to my unheated space in the back of the wing.

Why was I foolish enough to put up with all of this? Well, before I had this studio, I worked in my small apartment, and I felt that having a studio would make me feel more serious about my work, which is true. The other big factor....price. I rented the space, along with another space that my husband used for painting for $200/ month. Unheard of in the NY area now. Another perk was the view of Manhattan from Columbus Circle to the West Village.

As the photo above demonstrates, I didn't stay long enough to get the studio organized properly. I had found some shelves and a table in the bottom of the building and had plans for setting up the rest of the studio. However, some complications came up about us renting there, and the situation managed to save me from my bad decision. I don't know how much good work I could have made, as the heavy atmosphere in the building and the exhaustion of being cold all day sucked a lot out of me.

Now, I am happily settled in a studio in Brooklyn that features heat, ample locks and a nice atmosphere. I came away from the old studio with a good dose of wisdom and a great story.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Washington Craft Show: Karin Worden

Phlox Brooch
gold, blackened silver and rubies
by Karin Worden

Although I won't be at the Washington Craft Show in person this year, I wanted to highlight the work of one jeweler who will be showing. This is one of the best craft shows in the country, with a small group of jewelers, making mostly one of a kind pieces. It is from November 30th through December 1st.

Lotus Boat
18k, blackened silver and ruby
Karin Worden

Karin Worden makes small poetic pieces, including many brooches. She uses a combination of fresh flowers with twigs and other elements such as small boats. The piece above has a tiny boat near the bottom of the twig. Her work is very sculptural, with a lot of contrast in color and texture.

Flowers and Leaves Brooch
18k, blackened silver and mixed sapphires
Karin Worden

Last year, she had a series of brooches like the one above, with a variety of colored flowers, such as one with flowers of pink gold, which happened to be my favorite. All of these pieces are one of a kind, so those that fall in love with one, but decide to think it over for too long, will likely be disappointed to find that "their " brooch has sold.

Karin will also be in New York next week to show her work at the new Couture Jewelry Award and Sale, which is December 8th at the Pratt Mansion, across from the Met.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Inspiration from the neighborhood

As I previously mentioned, my new Wrought and Brocade collections were inspired by the wrought iron I see around my neighborhood. Here are a couple of favorites that I snapped pictures of on my way home one night.

In the case of the red doors, I am glad to see that some people aren't afraid to go with bold colors for their entrance (although, this might not be allowed a few blocks over the the historic district). The red contrasts nicely with the tracery of the wrought iron gate in front of it.

This door is my favorite so far. The wrought iron is nice and heavy with some tapering. The other highlight is the addition of the stars into the iron with more stars on the bottom of the doors. With the warm colors in the vestibule shining through, this looks like a very inviting place to come home to on a cold November night. Below is a close-up of one of the window panels.

Below is a new piece in the Brocade collection, which incorporates details derived from wrought iron decoration. The curls overlaying the gold pattern are not symmetrically covering the entire piece, but it is intersting to compare it with the photo above.

Brocade Oval Large Pendant
18K and blackened silver

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Guild Show

This weekend, the catalog and internet art retail company, called The Guild is hosting their first retail show in NYC. I have some work that will be in display and will be at the show for some of the hours that it is open.

The above photo was taken when I was preparing some work for the show. For my small petal-shaped stones, I use a thin strip of silver, fit it around the stone, solder it to a sheet of silver, and then cut it out into all of the little bezel pieces. This is what appears in the photo. All of the cut out bezels lined up in a row next to their corresponding garnets or peridots. These are the styles of earrings I made with these bezels and stones:

Persian Vine Earrings
sterling and garnet

Streaming Flourish Earrings
sterling and peridot

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Brocade Pieces

Before getting these pieces into a box on their way to Langman Gallery, I spent a few rushed minutes taking photos.... which would explain why they aren't as clear as they should be. I was short on time, and by the time I was done with the photo shoot, it was already 7:15. I got on my bike in hopes of finding a lingering UPS truck in my neighborhood. No luck. I pedaled towards the Brooklyn Bridge on my way to the UPS depot in Manhattan, but realized that I would probably pass out from hunger if I tried to ride all the way to the west side and back. Luckily, as I turned back to home, regretting that I was not going to make the deadline, I saw one of our wonderful Brooklyn UPS drivers of Jamaican descent, getting his meat pie fix at the Golden Krust bakery.

Is this post off topic or what? No, actually, my point here is that it seems that I spend a large part of my day packing things up in boxes, getting the papers in order, and rushing to get it on the truck in time. When do I have time to make jewelry? Sometimes I wonder myself. But, here they are, in all of their handmade glory.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Philly Museum Show

I didn't end up spending as much time as I would have liked to at the show. While there, I spent a good deal of time discussing this situation. That left less time for choosing some favorite pieces by various artists. Of course, since I was not exhibiting in the show, I was freely able to walk around and talk about the state of craft today.

Judith Kinghorn
Sterling and 24K gold

I have long admired Judith Kinghorn's brooch/ pendants made with a combination of sterling and 24kt gold. I had only seen them in print before, and after having the chance to hold one in my hand, I can say that print pales in comparison. The pieces really look flatter and larger than in reality. The delicacy of this piece above is astounding. The size is only about 2" across. That means that each of those flowers is nearly as delicate as a real flower. The flowers are arranged into a mound as well, so it is very dimensional.

Joanna Gollberg
Feather Rings
Sterling silver

I also had the chance to meet Joanna Gollberg in person for the first time. She has written a number of jewelry books, including The Art and Craft of Making Jewelry , which includes some of my work. Her work includes a lot of movement and some new pieces that have perforated panels. She is another younger generation jeweler that I am glad to see in both the Philly Museum show and the Smithsonian show this year.

Biba Schutz

Congratulations to Biba Schutz, a renowned jeweler, who won the award for Best Fiber at the Museum show for her sculptural baskets. The way that Biba's work ranges from simple earrings to elaborate bracelets and now, these baskets, is really inspiring.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

47th st

NY Diamond District

Here is a little window in to the New York jewelry world, mixed in with a story of economics. wished that they had more audio of the "we buy gold diamonds", guys.

I do shop in the NY jewelry district, although I use diamonds infrequently. There are also colored stone dealers, stone cutters, precious metal dealers, engravers, appraisers, stone setters, casters. You could pretty much make a whole jewelry line come into being by just shuffling from one specialist to another. Oh, and make sure to bring along a lot of money too.

I sometimes love the jewelry district for it's old fashioned way of business, but it is also such a hustle and before the holidays, it can be a hockey match, with everyone pushing each other out of the way...time is money after all.

After time, one can develop friendly relationships with people on the street and it can be pleasure to see them from time to time. However, when I first went to the district, it was a very intimidating place. People asked me if I was a student, and right off the bat, I knew they didn't take me seriously. I have since learned to have a poker face when something is far more expensive than I expected, pretending that it just doesn't quite suit my needs rather than exclaiming that I couldn't possibly buy something that expensive.

I would say that an out of towner that decides to buy an engagement ring from the diamond district is either very brave...or very foolish.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Philly Museum Show: Christy Klug

Every year, the Philadelphia Museum hosts what is considered one of the premier craft shows in the country. It is one of the five shows that everyone that does retail shows hopes to get into in their career. It is coming up this weekend, staring on Thursday the 8th of November, running through the 11th.

There, of course, are many booths filled with well-known artists with long lists of accomplishments. I get excited, however, about the artists that are closer to the beginning of their careers that get the chance to show for the first time.

Christy Klug and I are friends, dating back to the first ACC show in Baltimore for both of us, in 2004. Considering her history, her progress in her work and achievement is really remarkable. She has art training in her background, but it wasn't until she became a divorced single mom that undertook the making of jewelry as a career. As she recalled to me, she made five pieces, had them photographed, and got into the Baltimore show on the first try!

When she arrived at the show, she fast dumbstruck by the fact that she was showing with so many renowned people. Luckily, she had her friend with her to man her booth and take orders, while she wandered around wondering what she was doing there. She even got an order from a gallery that she used to frequent in Boston when she lived there.

Fast forward to today, and it is obvious that she has really risen to the top. I am hoping that she will find a great number of new admirers at the show in Philadelphia.
What I appreciate the most about Christy's work is the way she has taken the one technique of sawing in so many directions. Her style has remained very true to the first collection she showed in 2004, except that it has included so many dimensions and forms along the way.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SF recap

I had a great time in the bay area last weekend. I had the chance to pack in lots of visual interest and wide-ranging conversations in the few days I was there. To top it off, I even got three seats to myself on the redeye back to NY. The only unfortunate thing is that I did not bring my very good digital SLR camera and relied on a point and shoot that did not give me many usable photos. Fortunately the galleries I visited both have excellent websites that are always updated with many photos from all of their artists.

The opening was very nice and I got to see their larger space. It is possibly the largest jewelry and metalsmithing gallery that I have been in. I had the opportunity to meet some of the local artists that had come for the opening. I also really enjoyed meeting Elizabeth and Mike, co-owners of the gallery. They were extremely hospitable to me during my visit, which I really appreciated!

I have poured over the book by Lark called 500 Earrings. Many of my favorites were in the show and I delighted in seeing the earrings in person. It came as somewhat of a surprise to see that many of the earrings were much larger or smaller than I had imagined. For example, the earrings on the card, by Beate Klockmann, were much larger than I expected. The outside of the spheres also had an interesting texture that resembled cast iron that I hadn't detected in the photo.

The earrings below, by Rebecca Hannon were one of my favorites in the book, and also one of my favorites in the show. I tried them on, and the rainbow refractions from the CD "gems" added a life to the design that can't come across in the photos. Her use of recycled objects in the context of a classic earring shape is very appealing to me.

Rebecca Hannon earrings back view
Rebecca Hannon earring front view
Velvet da Vinci also shows sculpture and metalwork. The artist Diane Komater is showing her wire sculptures concurrently with the Earrings show. Her work has several levels of viewing, with the distant view giving a strong linear impression, but then you move in closer, and there are many tiny details that reveal themselves.

Sculpture by Diane Komater

Another featured sculptor at the gallery is Thomas Hill. He is currently making a variety of bird sculptures and here is one of them surveying the scene from the window of the gallery.

Thomas Hill sculpture

Revere Academy

Alan Revere was the juror for the 500 Earrings book and he owns a jewelry school in San Francisco. After meeting him at the opening, he invited me to come to his school to talk to some of the students there. His school is one of the only places in the US that offers a comprehensive training in the technical skills that are needed to work at the bench. Students have diverse goals; working at a jewelry store in the workshop, designing and making their own line, etc. I enjoyed the chance to look at the school and talk with the staff there, particularly Christine Dhein and Ronda Coryell.

Revere has all sorts of programs that are detailed on their website. I really liked this wall display of sample projects from all of their classes.

I also stopped at the Asian Art Museum and saw, specifically, the Stylized Sculpture show, which features contemporary Japanese fashion.

Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons
Polyester and cotton with metal rods

The exhibition was unusual in that they decided to forgo the usual label system. The mannequins were set in a dimly lit room with small halos of light around each one. it was only after I had carefully looked at each garment in turn that I realized that there was a brochure that detailed the designer and materials of each garment. After having absorbed the exhibit visually, the written material really did provide a whole other layer of meaning. That is really the way it is supposed to be, but how often do we (as hard as I try to resist, this includes me), walk up to a work on display and zoom in right away on the label.

I also love the way they have displayed their carved stone collection at the Asian Art Museum. Many pieces are hung on a plexiglas wall in the middle of the gallery, so that you can see the carvings from both sides. The inclusion of Bhutanese art and textiles is also a plus. I haven't seen that anywhere else. And of course, I would pretty much like to have their entire bookshop on my personal bookshelf!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Visibility is a double-edged sword

As I make my work and develop designs, having a great number of people see them is very important. I have to count on a great number of people I have never met, to enjoy my work enough to exchange their money for something I have made. So, in service of that, I try to have my work visible to as wide an audience as possible. The internet gives all artists such a wonderful way to reach so many people.

And then one day, a forwarded e-mail from a colleague arrives in your inbox and there it is, a company in India claiming to make your designs and have them available to order. I received that e-mail last week before my trip and decided to talk about it before I got on to the delightful things that I saw in San Francisco.

above: Flourish Earrings
copyright Natasha Wozniak
made in the USA

Not only were images of my work used falsely by this company, but so were the images of other designers. I immediately recognized this necklace by Sydney Lynch (below).

There were also images that I am sure were taken from other designers webpages, I just don't happen to know the designers. Is there anybody out there that can tell me who made the jewelry in the following images?

Here is the e-mail that accompanied the images:

Dear Sir/madam ,

We are the leading Manufacturer and Exporter of Sterling Silver, Gold and Diamond jewellery from last 25 yrs. We are the 100 percent export oriented company with the workforce of 350 artisans, who are working under the trained & skilled supervisors who are having good experience to serve the overseas market with the quality products and time bounded delivery system.

Kindly�go through our website and let us know your feedback.

If you have any other query, please feel free to mail us.

Looking forward to hear from you.

With warm regards

So, two things about this made my blood run cold. First, there is the possibility that they will get an order for my designs from this e-mail. I could walk into a store in a year and see a cheap version of my carefully designed and made work. The other reason I was so upset is that I am adamant about the fact that I am making this work right here in the US. I participate in craft shows that are for only those that make their work in the US. This e-mail threatens the credibility that I have among my peers.

at left: Foliage with Dew set
copyright Natasha Wozniak
made in the USA

Thursday, October 18, 2007

San Francisco bound

Hanging Fronds
18K, sterling, tourmaline

I am off today to the beautiful city of San Francisco. Tomorrow night (October 19th), I will be attending the opening of the 200 Earrings show at Velvet Da Vinci from 6-8PM. You can see a number of images from the show on their website. The earrings above are a new pair that I made to replace the earrings that were featured in the book 500 Earrings, as those had been sold.

I will also be stopping at the studio of Diana Fayt (no, not a jeweler, I know), and checking in with Rena Tom from Rare Device. She is opening her San Francisco store on the 25th of October. She has had a store in Brooklyn of the same name for a few years, which is where I discovered the talented jeweler Abigail Percy. Hooray, managed to tie jewelry into that one.

If time allows, I also intend to visit DeNovo in Palo Alto, which has a great collection of jewelry.

Next week, I will have to rant a bit about a couple of issues that have me really riled up, but for now, I have to get my suitcase zipped up and be on my way to JFK.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jewelry Job Prospects

In between all of my myriad activities this week, I came across this:
Forbes Worst Jobs for the 21st Century
Yes, it is a tough field. Even though I think this is focused on the bench jeweler rather than the independent designer/ maker, it spells out what many of us in the field can tell from our experience.
At the same time, there is a huge number of people wanting to follow a passion for jewelry making. I get e-mails all the time asking for my advice. It starts with stringing some beads and progresses to the point where the maker wants to drop their career and follow the passion of jewelry to a career.
Better be sure the passion is so consuming that it hurts not to do it. It is almost an affliction that many of us has regarding this line of work.
What is it that we can do that will make our jewelry so compelling that the imports don't matter?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Metal as Fabric

Brocade Oval Ring
18K, blackened silver

I have a strong in interest in and influence from textile design in my work. I recently adapted a fabric design into a motif for some new work. Just today I realized that the way I was using the metal to create something that resembles an actual piece of fabric. By creating it as a full sheet, then cutting it into pieces for various pendants and rings, it becomes a most precious fabric, just as one would weave or embroider fabric in order to construct a decorative garment.Brocade Panel Pendant
18K, blackened silver

I like the fact that the one sheet of gold is connected through the continuous design, yet becomes many pieces that will most probably go their separate ways. Having had this revelation, it makes me curious about what other embellishments I can add to the gold sheet. Embroidery? Beaded trim?
At this point, I am contrasting the gold design with blackened silver filigree which is inspired by wrought iron.

Shown above is the new sheet in process. The original lines have been applied to the front, and it has been mounted in reverse so that the three-dimensionality can be added by hammering with rounded tools.
After pushing out the design from the back, the front is ready for the detail work.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Another Year

As Sept 30th marked another year of my life, it is nice to reflect on some of the things I have accomplished over the year.

It was almost exactly a year ago that I found out I might be moving to Brooklyn. No looking back there. It is hard to imagine that I haven't lived here for so long. At this time last year, I had to take two trains, cross two boroughs of NYC and two states to get home. Now...just a few blocks to stroll.

I think next to this, the biggest single accomplishment was starting a new series of jewelry in a new direction. I had a new collection brewing for a while, but the moving process delayed the creation of new work for many months.

Coming up this month, I will be sending a collection of this new work to Langman Gallery in Willow Grove, PA for their Art Jewelry Invitational show (actually starts Nov. 1st).

I am also heading to San Francisco (a city I love to have an excuse to go to), for the opening of the 200 Earrings show at Velvet da Vinci, which is loosely based on the 500 Earrings book. I look forward to seeing the show and possible trying on some very innovative earrings in all materials.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stuck in the Middle

As a studio jeweler born well after the last of the baby boomers, I often feel like an artist out of place. I feel an affinity for the craft movement that their generation -- and even the generation before it -- created. Yet my career trajectory is happening in a different time and place. I cannot expect to have the same path they did. The structure that supported their work is well past its heyday.

In my own generation, there is a new wave of craft whose goals and means seem fundamentally different from mine. They seem to be after a granny's church craft fair with a twist aesthetic.

The work of this new wave craft movement seems to embrace amateurism and an outsider artist ethos. However, it is not true outsider art. So much of it is derivative work. Irony trumps craftsmanship. Wouldn't be so much more subversive to be a master of a difficult medium, leaving the viewer startled by the convergence of mastery and message?

Some examples:
Jan Yager
Richard Notkin
Keith Lewis

I have a hard time relating to the new wave crafters; in fact, I don't even know what to talk about when I meet them in person since I really don't have an inclination to make cute things with skulls on them in the name of being subversive.

Where does this leave someone in their 20s or 30s seeking to become a master of their medium first and foremost? (I am not promoting a message with my work at present, but who is to say that it won't happen as time goes on?)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Art Jewelry Forum Award

Blue Brooch
sIlver and suede
I found out the other day that my friend and colleague Andrea Janosik is the recipient of the Emerging Artist Award from the Art Jewelry Forum. I am so excited for her. This is a competitive award and it will give her deserved recognition in the art jewelry community. I previously profiled her in this post, when I went to do a studio visit.
Andrea has been a great inspiration to me, pushing me in new directions in my own work. When we go to the SofaNY show together, we have very clear and very different preferences, but I appreciate her perspective. I expect her to have a long and fruitful career in art jewelry.

The Art Jewelry Forum is a collectors group and they will be presenting her with an award at the Sofa show in Chicago, (Novermber 1-4th 2007). I expect that one of the galleries showing at Sofa will have Andrea's work on display as well.

Orange Bracelet
silver and suede

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gross Misrepresentation

I have considered using adwords for my site and my blog, so I sometimes search for things such as "engagement rings" or "handmade jewelry", to see what comes up. Imagine my horror to see Zales, Blue Nile, and yes... Target (didn't show up at this moment as I tried again). Don't be fooled. The term studio jewelry is meant to describe work made by a single jeweler, or atelier, pursuing a particular vision of jewelry design and making.

I have been noticing this misappropriation of words for some time now. Starbucks likes to bill it's lattes and frappaccinos as "handcrafted". Yes, indeed it is made by hand, but aside from those automated machines, how else are you going to make a latte? It is stating the obvious and making the word less powerful.
Another prevalent misrepresentation was discussed in an interview with author Dana Thomas on the Leonard Lopate show, which aired on WNYC. If luxury is massed-produced and marked up, where is the luxury in that. I think true luxury comes with having your purchase attended to by the maker or a representative of the maker, with very little remove between the oneself and the originator.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


As I previously mentioned, the move to Park Slope in Brooklyn has been making it's impact on my work. Brownstones, wrought iron, bluestone sidewalks, all giving me a push into new territory. The Wrought Collar, pictured above, is one of the new pieces in the collection. It hangs asymmetrically, with the center curl resting just to the right of center. The curls undulating above and below create three dimensionality in an otherwise very graphic piece.

Here is the corresponding Wrought Cuff bracelet. Same concept as the necklace, but with more symmetry. I made the sample in my size and I love wearing it. It has a definite presence.

I was on fire with this new collection and there is more to come in the next few days. I have finished my two back to back shows and will be travelling only to trunk shows for the rest of the year. More time to make an abundance of new designs in this vein.