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 http://www.vedansh.com// 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.