Sunday, February 28, 2010


Lotus Lamp by Natasha Wozniak
silver, brass, cast glass

Before I started my jewelry business in 2001, most of the work I made was holloware. There were lotus sculptures, Japanese-inspired vases with delicate piercing, simple bowls of hammered metal. I also taught holloware at the now-defunct Craft Students League in midtown Manhattan. I really loved the contrast between the people in their corporate offices across the airshaft, and the studio in which I was practicing a craft that originated thousands of years ago. My students would come in from their high-stress jobs, and after 3 hours of meditatively hammering copper, would feel calm and rejuventated.

Before I began the craft business, I thought that there might be a chance to create holloware and make a living by selling it. Unfortunately, in the US, there is very little interest in holloware. This, coupled with the lack of support for young artists while developing a body of work, in terms of equipment, space and time, led me away from this aspiration.

Silver vessel by Hiroshi Suzuki

With all of this personal experience in mind, I was delighted to see, in The Economist, of all places, an article about a Japanese-British artist that has had success in holloware. His name is Hiroshi Suzuki and he is having a retrospective in London of his work. I had seen his work at the annual Sofa show in New York, and was always drawn to it, because of the beauty of his style, but also because it is so unusual to see silver vessels anywhere in the high-end craft world.

Silver sculpture by Junko Mori

He is represented By Adrian Sassoon gallery in London, also representing another Japanese-British artist, Junko Mori. She makes elaborate sculptures out of silver, and I remember seeing her work for the first time. I kneeled on the floor in the aisle of the show with another silversmith friend in order to see all of the pieces that were tucked away on a bottom shelf. I later found out that her early work was sponsored by a silver supplier in the UK. That is when the lightbulb went off and I realized once again that a little support for a young artist can lead to really sublime things.

Remember while admiring a beautifully crafted object the next time, that the concept of patronage should be a prominent thought in the decision to buy. The artist will be able to make something even more extraordinary the next time!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ACC Baltimore

I am not in Baltimore right now, but some very cutting edge and innovative artists are there right now for the American Craft Council show. Aside from the Sofa shows, The ACC Baltimore show has the highest number of artists making one-of-a-kind jewelry, using both traditional and unusual materials. Here are a few colleagues that will be there showing some great work:
Christine Simpson-Forni
uses sterling silver, a variety of stones, and enamel.. In the pin above, she has created a representation of coral using metal with enamel. I had the chance to visit her studio in Chicago last year and wanted to take a number of photos, only to find my camera battery was dead. The feeling I get from her work, is inspiration from nature, but in a dark, almost gothic way. She focuses on the things that are less-admired, things hidden in a dark tidepool. I wish I could see her work at the show, as I know she always makes great efforts to make many special pieces for this show.
Joanna Gollberg
has been making work from a combination of stones and glass. She uses an array of materials to create a variety of colors and textures in her pieces. There are uncut stones, as well as stones that she cuts in her studio. Her work has always had a lot of movement, and while the current work has less actual moving parts, it has a great movement through the combination of 3-dimentional structures and vivid color.

Andrea Janosik has become a specialist in working with leather. Using a variety of leathers, including cords and flat pieces, she created very sculptural pieces. Many pieces are made rolling the leather into shapes, such as the cones in the necklace above, or other techniques of folding or bunching the leather. Her work is very laborious as she spends hours precisely cutting and shaping the leather pieces.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Work and other things

Pictured above is a new piece I made this year in advance of my trade show. It is always a good motivation for making new work. I decided to try out a material called bi-metal, which is a laminate of 18K gold on top of silver. It allows me to do the reverse the silver with gold accent look, without a huge hike in the price of the materials.

I wanted to call attention to a campaign that the sponsor of this trade show is doing. She is willing to go to jail for us! Wow, that is some commitment. I know that she has been to the halls of congress already, but has failed to get attention paid to the fact that all of us craft artists are employing ourselves as well as, in many cases, assistants. From the side of the client, true value lies in artisan wares made in the US, rather than "luxury" goods that are well-marketed, but were made in China just the knock-offs on Canal Street!