In 2014 I was elated to receive an invitation to teach a jewelry-making class at West Dean College in southeast England and immediately began making plans. I launched my own personal “crowdfunding” campaign to help finance this adventure and was humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response. Teaching at West Dean was a dream and I want to thank my friends and supporters who helped to make this trip possible. What I observed, felt and learned fed my creativity and kept me returning to my studio during some rather tumultuous times.
The beautiful campus of West Dean is extensive and l walked through the woods and gardens before class every day. The students were inquisitive, smart and an absolute joy to work with. I was challenged by a studio that was a bit different than I am used to. Among other things, I encountered a borax cone in a ceramic dish that you grind with a little water to make flux and flexible shaft machines that operated with a collet system.
Beyond teaching, my time in England included explorations of Chichester and the beautiful coastal villages of Bosham, Brighton, and Dover. The strong winds made getting close to the edge of the Dover Cliffs a little scary!
In Oxford, I visited the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology to see the exhibition of Joseph Beuys & Jorg Immendorff: “Art Belongs to the People!” The curator, Sir Norman Rosenthal said, “the exhibition demonstrates the involvement of both artists with contemporary politics and issues of universal human concern, and their belief in the role of art in changing how people think and how they live their lives.” – I couldn’t agree more with that last statment.
In Chipping Campden I visited the Court Barn Museum of Craft and Design. There I learned about the impact of the Arts and Crafts movement on the town and the designers and craftspeople including C.R. Ashbee, Gordon Russell, Hart Silversmiths and Robert Welch who lived and worked there. I loved visiting the Hart Silversmiths studios which are still in operation and marveled at the forming tools and got the sense that not much had changed since 1900.
Long walks were a favorite part of the trip and I enjoyed the public paths from one town to the next. The Cotswold Way, a 100 mile trail from Chipping Campden to Bath was one of the best. I walked the first six miles to the town of Broadway ending with tea and crumpets at the Hunters Tea Room.
In Dover I joined a “Meetup” group to hike the Dover Cliffs before ending my trip in London where I lingered over the collections of the Victoria & Albert and British Museums. On my last night in London I was joined by a friend to watch a theater production of Les Misérables. It was a great finale.
Back at home I began thinking about the pieces I would make for those who helped support my trip. It has been a two-year journey to create and finish these pieces. I began and invested a good deal of time on an initial concept, but was not satisfied with the results. Although frustrated with abandoning my initial effort, this is often part of the process. I was very excited when subsequent efforts and plans came together. All of this transpired during a period of the best and worst of times. I continued my work as the Executive Director at Pocosin Arts, which included the high of completion of our jewelry and clay studio renovations necessitated by hurricane damage and the lows of a complete turnover in staff. Then, quite unexpectedly I met and then married the most wonderful man, Derry Fivehouse on New Year’s Eve of 2014. This was followed by the sudden and untimely loss of my mother, something I have yet to fully comprehend. On the up side, Derry and I packed the belongings of two separate households and moved into our new home last October where I set up a studio. I am proud to say these pieces are fittingly the first to come out of my new studio.
I made many trips to my studio attempting to digest my time in England and create a brooch/pendant embodying this experience as a “Thank You” gift for those who supported my trip. The final design involved lots of experimentation as I integrated elements from things I had seen and felt. I call the piece “Pilgrimage.” It is made of manipulated recycled steel (bottle caps), steel wire, and enamel. To the many friends who helped make this trip possible, I am forever grateful. The brooch is modeled by Ken Bova (above right), one of my many wonderful friends.
What’s next is a body of work based on this initial design that I hope to exhibit in the near future. Thanks again to all my very patient friends, I hope you enjoy your piece.
It is a gorgeous morning here in Eastern North Carolina and I am loving my new studio space which I am still in the process of organizing. Most important to me is keeping tools accessible and one of my favorite new organizers isn’t new at all – it is an antique milk crate turned upside down to keep my hammers within reach and it works great! I love this studio, it has lots of natural light and has great flow. Still making work for my Tributaries show at the Metal Museum and loving it all the more in my new digs!
This weekend, Jan 14 & 15, I am excited to present a workshop and lecture at East Carolina University for their Metals Symposium, Merging Methods. I will be speaking about inspiration, methods of working with recycled steel or tin cans and finding opportunities where you may not expect to find them. http://ecusymposium.wordpress.com/
Teaching at Haystack July 31 – August 12!
I am super excited to be teaching for the first time at Haystack, and in this class students will create jewelry and a shrine/display infused with personal meaning. The shrine will serve as a home for the jewelry to reside in while not being worn. I expect amazing things to happen in this two-week session. http://www.haystack-mtn.org/
This past September I currated a show, ‘Tin: The Element of Surprise’ for the Edwardsville Art Center. As the name suggests, the unifying element connecting the artists in the show is the use of repurposed tin cans in their work. This was an exciting project for me because ever since I laid eyes on Bobby Hansson’s book, ‘The Fine Art of the Tin Can’ I thought it would be amazing to see a show dedicated to artists working with this material.
Tin cans are covered with color, images and text designed to lure and entice us to purchase the products they contain. However, once the product is consumed, the can has served its intended purpose and it is considered refuse. For the artists in this exhibition tin containers are an irresistible material and besides their decorative exteriors, they are appealing because of what they say about us as consumers referencing culture, time, politics and taste. These references can be manipulated in an infinite number of ways to create new meaning in relationship to form and while recycling is not the focus of this exhibition it does illuminate what can be done when creative and intelligent thinking are applied to post-consumer materials.
If you didn’t get a chance to see this show at the Edwardsville Arts Center in Edwardsville, Illinois, it will travel to three additional venues: Montana State University, in Bozeman, Montana where it will be on display in the Helen Copeland Gallery through December 2010. Next it will travel to East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina and will run concurrently with their annual metals symposium through January 2011. http://ecusymposium.wordpress.com/ The next stop is at the College of the Albemarle in Manteo, North Carolina and will be the inaugural show in their new gallery space set to run from mid February through March 2011.
Artists include: Bobby Hansson, J. Fred Woell, Robert Ebendorf, Robert Villamagna, Kathryn Cole, Teri Blond, Ted McDonah, Kim Overstreet and Robin Kranitzky, Harriete Estel Berman, Robbie Barber, Tim Lazure, Leonard Streckfus, Judith Hoyt, Ellen Wieske, Marissa Saneholtz, Daniel Anderson, Bryan Petersen, Stephen Yusko, Kelly Robinson, Donna McCullough, Margaret Couch Cogswell, and Jane Wells Harrison.
Fall is here and lots has occurred since I last blogged in June while teaching at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. What transpired after Arrowmont has been a full and fabulous summer that included teaching for two and a half weeks at Penland School of Crafts, a couple of weeks in San Antonio, Texas visiting family and doing some research,
a four-day workshop at ‘The Ranch’ in Snohomish Washington and then a weekend workshop for the Wisconsin designer Craft Council. I also managed the first ever online auction for the Society of North American Goldsmiths, and I started an new job in September at Pocosin Arts Folk School in Columbia, North Carolina where I am currently the Metals Program Director for their brand new metals and business program. It has been an amazing summer and I will spend some time in the weeks to come talking about it all and more!
Class is off to a great start here at Arrowmont. Students began learning to work with tin by altering their name tags. Tomorrow they will begin making their own personal shrines designed to contain jewelry made to commemorate or memorialize a specific memory, person, object or event. www.arrowmont.org
Color is the topic of this class and students are learning to use tin cans, found objects, enamel and prismacolor as materials to bring color and narrative to their jewelry. The goal of their initial project was learning to work with used tin cans and to investigate the possibilities of creating jewelry with this material. They experimented with the tin to learn its possibilities and limitations, creating 10 ‘test pieces’ and were then challenged to make five pins in 24 hours and these images are of the artists wearing their work. More post of their work will follow as the class progresses.
Beginning May 24, I will be at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville teaching the summer session metals class until June 11. We will address surface and color and in addition to working with found color sources such as tin and found objects, we will use enamel, prismacolor and image transfer. Tomorrow we will be joined in the studio by guest artist Robert Ebendorf. He will be with us for three days bringing his own unique vision and passion for found materials to the classroom.
As the class progresses I will be posting images of the student’s work…stay tuned!
Last Saturday I atteneded a lecture at The Visual Art Center in Richmond, VA, to see a presentation by Suzanne Savery, the Director of Collections and Interpretation at the Valentine Richmond History Center. My interest in her talk was prompted by my own research and making of jewelry that references the ephemeral. In her presentation about mourning jewelry she spoke about the concept of using hair in jewelry, and that it arose primarily because people wanted a way to remember someone separated from them either by distance or death and that hair served as a physical memento at a time when photography was not readily available. It was a type of jewelry that remained popular until the early 1900’s and that many people today find morbid. Ms. Savery brought several examples of hair jewelry with her for participants to look at and the brooch pictured here is similar to one she had on display. I had the opportunity to talk with her after the lecture she said that while the Valentine museum has a rather large collection of this type of jewelry, it is not on display but if you are interested in research or learning more you can make an appointment to see the collection. Click the following link to learn more about memorial jewelry. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O122821/locket/