Enter Enamels

Stencils sprayed in under glaze on clay seemed like an invitation to crossover into vitreous enamels on copper and brass. What I’d read is that it’s one of those things, you can learn in an evening and master over a lifetime. So, I chose a color palette to play with and hit order. Now, I’m easing into incorporating this new finish into a coherent body of everyday surfaces. My thought is that the most frequently viewed images are those that are commonly on and around us; wall art, a garment, your favorite cup or necklace, etc. If these are heavily laden with meaning, then they serve to reaffirm something of that sentiment every time your eyes pass over them.

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Friends & Family

A few years ago, I started doing stencil cuts of friends and family members, to be sprayed onto platters as wedding gifts. I don’t throw the dish, my partner Chris does that, I just supply the imagery. They were blurry at first, but keep getting better. The addition of a legitimate airbrush to our arsenal resulted in a far higher quality image, as did tweaking the shape of the rim. These are all at least 14-16″ in diameter, and we’ve also successfully applied the images to cremation urns. There’s a lot of material to work with here in terms of celebrating life events with a unique vessel.

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The Art of Distribution

While I’m exploring my own voice and materials in the studio, I’m also supplementing my income through freelancing and side jobs (no, I’m not above material security). What I’ve got going at the moment is a triumvirate of semi-regular employment between a retail art gallery, assembling work for a wholesaler of fine Scandinavian handicrafts, and an e-commerce business that works with artists to produce memorial products. Sounds like a lot of unrelated hoo-ha, right? Not to me!

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Rulebreaker

I’m coming from a background in image making and sculpture, I’m not a jeweler, and it shows. In addition to struggling with how diminutive sculpture is supposed to move with the body, and the challenge of making minuscule connections, I also hope that strengths from those other disciplines can be seen. Solving a design problem should theoretically be the same no matter the scale, balancing composition and the quality of craftsmanship should speak across mediums too.

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The Devil in Detail

Oh how it stings when all the separate components of a thing are fabricated, and then won’t seem to connect quite the way you thought they should. They’ll work, but not perfectly, even though you tried mocking it up beforehand, there’s so often some little variable that sways the outcome from great to good. With practice and repetition, these things will work themselves out, but if you’re constantly weaving different found materials in as a part of your primary means of working, this presents a challenge.

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Productive Cycles

Ramping-up daily production ahead of deadlines is both energizing and fatiguing. It’s good to clear all channels, opening her up on the straightaway of maker space. Increasing production also beckons production schedules, accounting software, SEO (throwing up in my mouth) and more. These too can be creative exercises, challenging values and resources. The greatest of these, however, is keeping the focal point of all this effort on the art. Toward which quarter is it growing, pulled by the light of creative imagination?

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What the Function?

When it’s time to commit to a course of production, are you supposed to double-down on fabrication or philosophy? I find them to be like the chicken and the egg, feeding endless cycles of speculation on which supersedes the other. I’m not really a jeweler, but a sculptor working in miniature, just like I am not really a sculptor, I’m just an illustrator who doesn’t like static imagery.

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Crystallized

One of the most interesting aspects of ceramics, for me, is that you are literally harnessing chemical forces of nature when firing a kiln. We send people into space in ceramic-tiled rockets, and it’s just about the oldest art form there is. The potential for growing crystal formations in glazes piqued my interest after playing around with Epsom salt accretion and experimenting with other household chemicals that combine to coax mineral gardens out of evaporating liquids and time. Someday I would love to capture these inside a glass bubble for wear, but as yet they’ve proved too fragile to tolerate such abuse.

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Waiting in the Wings

Here I sit, in the sandbox, learning a new vocabulary, new ways of seeing connections and new materials to experiment with. Things I’m discovering are the value of weight, drape and movement, how to invoke sentimentality and preciousness through carefully honed suggestions of it. What is too big for the wearer? What is underdeveloped?

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Triple Goddess

They say that two’s company and three is the number to begin a quest with. Sister artists, functional sculptor Korrin Lohmann and Sarah Holmes of Black Spoke Leather Co and I endeavor to keep each other accountable to artistic goals. We meet regularly to discuss upcoming deadlines, critique work and trouble-shoot business hangups. Three is good, but more’s better if you can rally them. I can’t overemphasize the value in cultivating a support network like this, however infrequent, it is critical to making meaningful artistic progress over the long haul!

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