Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Filigree

Student work from my filigree class at the Newark Museum

In July, I taught a class at the Newark Museum, and it was very enjoyable for the students and for me. Filigree is a such a low tech technique for making jewelry, we were able to sit together at a large table and make intricate jewelry, just using a few sets of pliers. In the beginning the students felt that filigree was probably too labor-intensive to use as a production technique, however, after a few days of bending, it became clear that filigree can be used to make repeating elements. It can also be used to make very lightweight gold pieces, which is important in these days of high gold prices.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Obsession/ Passion

One my way home last night, I had a little burst of inspiration after walking into Union Square station and seeing a guy playing an upright piano! A perfect example of taking something that almost everyone thinks is over the edge and doing it anyway. Of course the sound is more beautiful than a car-battery powered keyboard and amp. Of course, it wouldn't have worked if he didn't play well, but since he did, it was a lovely moment on the platform. A few people broke the taboo of talking to strangers in NY to share the joy of this moment, at the end of a very hot and humid day. A perfect arguement for taking an idea to the other side of sanity once and a while. The effort will be surely be rewarded.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trunk Show

L to R: Natasha Wozniak, Laurie, Sydney Lynch, Liz Hayes at 3rd Ward Jewelry during Gallery Night in Milwaukee

What is a trunk show? Basically, it is a show at a store or gallery which features a broad array of work from one designer. Usually for a short period of time. The name comes from the fact that the designer often comes with a suitcase (aka trunk), full of work. With larger companies, the designer may or may not be present. The gallery can just represent them, or they may send an assistant. In my case, I usually appear in person at the gallery to meet the clients.

Last month, I had a trunk show, along with the designer Sydney Lynch at 3rd Ward Jewelry in Milwaukee. This gallery has recently changed hands, and the new owner, Liz Hayes, is doing a great job at the helm. This gallery is a special place for me. Not only were they one of the first galleries to carry my work, but they also are located in SE Wisconsin, where I was born and grew up.

The trunk show was during the gallery night in the 3rd Ward district in Milwaukee, and I was pleased to see how many people came out to enjoy and support the arts. No, it wasn't for the free wine as galleries are no longer allowed to serve wine!!

Even though my full array of jewelry is no longer at the gallery, I always have a collection of work on display there, so please visit when in the area. There is a lot of exceptional jewelry art on display.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bali and Filigree

Although I didn't have enough time in Bali to really get connected with the local jewelry makers (and my focus for the trip was the performance arts), I did get to visit some jewelry workshops. I have been using the techniques of filigree and chasing repousse in my work quite a lot in the last couple of years, techniques that can be found in places such as Bali, where the amount of tools and equipment available are minimal. In fact, the woman shown below has just one pair of pliers to work with to create the filigree for the earrings she is working on.
A closeup of the earring. She had a number of finished ones in the drawer below her bench.I recycle gold scraps in my studio as it is more economical to make new wire with the scraps than to send it in to be refined and get fresh wire in its place. However, in Bali, they go through the trouble of making their own silver wire. Almost nobody does that in the US as it is too much trouble with silver. It tends to crack as you are reducing the size of the ingot through rolling. Here is an image of a brick that has been carved to serve as a mold for the molten metal to be poured into.A torch in Bali. I am not clear about which fuel they were using in it, combined with a foot bellows to add air to the mixture.
The point of this post being, there can be some fantastic jewelry made without the benefit of elaborate tools. Here is a tray full of some earrings that one of the jewelers was working on.Here he is at the bench.