Metalsmith BenchTalk Interview

I will be interviewed live on Metalsmith BenchTalk, BlogTalkRadio with Jay Whaley Thursday, February 12th. Time: 3-4PM PST, 4-5 MST, 6-7 EST. We will be talking about these topics and more: my evolution from psychotherapist to jewelry designer and teacher; how my early dissatisfaction with my work led to a passionate interest in design; what it is like to write a book for a non-author type; and finally, a bit about the book I recently finished writing on design, Maker Magic: How to Develop YOUR Voice Designing Art Jewelry.

Here is a link for the interview: The talk will also be archived so it can be listened to at your leisure.

Postscript – Feb 13, 2015: I wasn’t always a jewelry designer. In this BlogTalk Radio interview with Jay Whaley I discuss the journey I took from psychotherapist to making and teaching jewelry design. I also discuss my book, Maker Magic: How to Develop YOUR Voice Designing Art Jewelry. The interview was held February 12th, 2015. Jay Whaley is a metalsmith instructor at Whaley Studios in San Diego. The link to the interview is below – just scroll down until you find my interview.

Master Class: Learn To Work With Sheet Metal And Cold Connections

Sponsored by Interweave’s Craft University

“Bewitching Bracelet,” 2006. Sterling Silver, Brass, Old Coin, Ceramic Beads

My “Bewitching Bracelet” illustrates how cold connections can be used to both join metal and embellish it. In this class you will learn a combined 25 cold connection and fabrication skills. The course is designed to take you from “kitchen table” metalsmithing to a professional skill level. The class is good for complete novices to those who want to refine their skills.

Instructor: Connie Fox

Instructor: Connie Fox

Instructor: Connie Fox

Length Of Class: 7 weeks

Dates: November 5 – December 23, 2014. You will also have an additional 30 days access to the online class.


11 Fabrication Techniques: Sawing, Filing, Drilling, Measuring and Marking, Sequencing, Texturing, Working with Found Objects, Connecting More than 2 Flat Layers, Piercing, Making Washers, Forming Metal and How to Join it.

14 Cold Connection Techniques: Jump rings, Tube rivets, Basic wire rivets, Invisible wire rivets, Split tube rivets, Wire rivets and rotating parts, Fancy wire rivets, Cotter pins, Miniature bolts, Adhesives, Staples, Tabs, Eyelets, Telescoping connectors, Toggle clasp

Download the Course: You will be able to download and keep a PDF copy of the course for your personal use.

Flexibility: You will be able to participate in the class to fit your schedule. You will also be able to work at your own pace.

Class Format: There are oodles of images, detailed, step-by step directions, and some videos requiring further visual explanation. Connie is available online to answer your questions frequently during the day. The class is presented on “Blackboard”, an educational forum that allows students and the teacher to interact via submitted messages and images. Expect great interaction in the class!

Cost: $99.00

How to Enroll:

What Students Say:

I have been enjoying this class immensely! I am going at my own pace and love that I will have your lessons in my “tool box” permanently. I have already seen an improvement in my skills that will allow me to move my jewelry to the next level. Thanks Connie for sharing your knowledge and teaching.” Donna D.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your Master Class, Learn to Work with Sheet Metal and Cold Connections. I am fairly new to the world of jewelry designing and DYI jewelry techniques. Your class has sparked a whole new realm of possibilities for me. Thank you for opening the door to the wonderful world of designing ideas!” Gale L.

Although I’ve taken a number of online and in-person classes, this course stands alone in its depth and usefulness for the metalsmith. Connie Fox not only teaches with precision and in detail, she also encourages students with her playfulness and sense of humor. This class would be a bargain at triple the price…I now have weeks and weeks worth of new ideas to try because of all the techniques I’ve learned.” Jean H.

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Master Class At Craft U


Do you wish you could work with sheet metal and make cold connections? Perhaps you have skills that need refreshing? If you answered “yes” to either question, consider joining my online “Learn to Work with Sheet Metal and Cold Connections” class. The 7 week class is scheduled for November 5 – December 23 through Interweave’s Craft U.

Throughout this period I will be available to answer your questions, give you direction and support your efforts.

You will be able to download the entire class for your personal use. You will also be able to work at your own pace.

There are oodles of images, videos of techniques that need visual explanation, and step-by step directions.

These 11 categories of fabrication techniques are covered:

Measuring and marking
Working with found objects
Connecting more than two flat layers
Making washers
Forming metal and how to join it

Here are 14 connections you will learn:

Jump rings
Tube rivets
Basic wire rivets
Invisible wire rivets
Split tube rivets
Wire rivets and rotating parts
Fancy wire rivets
Cotter pins
Miniature bolts
Telescoping connectors
Toggle clasp

To Sign Up For The Class

The cost is $99.00

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Thank you,
Connie Fox

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Beyond The Kitchen Table Metalsmithing


Beyond The Kitchen Table Metalsmithing

Merle White, editor of Jewelry Artist Magazine, asked me to do an online “beyond the kitchen table” course on basic metalsmithing skills for Craft University. The 7 week course is complete and will be available on September 24th. It is really two classes in one, basic fabrication and cold connections. Believe me when I say this course is comprehensive! And, just to make sure you get what you need, I will be available via email (Skype if needed) to assist throughout the course. Please take a look at the description, and if you have any questions, please email me at


All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Challenging One – Done

I recently held an anticlastic cuffs class and I thought you would enjoy seeing Kathy Oxford’s bracelet. Kathy is undaunted by challenges – soldering wire to the topper, and then soldering the topper to the cuff without affecting the wire. That’s a double challenge.

Anticlastic Cuff by Kathy Oxford

Anticlastic Cuff by Kathy Oxford

Jewelry making teaches us so many life lessons and walking tall in the face of challenge is certainly one of them. Just to prove Kathy comes from strong stock, she lost her home in the 2007 Witch Creek fire. She faced the loss with great courage and not only rebuilt her own home, she became a community leader helping others re-build. Kathy is tenacious and I have no doubt that when she sets her mind to something it will be done.

Here is what Kathy had to say about this cuff:

This was tough (torch still the problem). Couldn’t get ex easy solder to flow on back rails of topper ???. I ended up tucking on top of cuff—very close to the topper with lots of white out. That did it—but still not a great flow. Victory!

Congratulations Kathy!

I would love to share other student’s bracelets. Just send me an image.


All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Make Jewelry You’ll Love in Five Steps

ClassA Class on How to Design Contemporary Art Jewelry

In a couple of months I am teaching a two day jewelry design class in Baltimore. Because the class filled up, I decided to add a second one. The description is below and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

Location: Near Baltimore, Maryland.
Dates: Tuesday, June 3 & Wednesday, June 4.
Cost: $195 (Please note: I have added a second design class!)

Nothing has influenced me more as a jewelry artist than developing design skills. Having no academic background in art, I started clueless and dissatisfied. After 10 years of design study, I want to share what I have learned with you.

In this two-day class, you will:

    1) Develop and refine your artistic identity.
    2) Inspire your work so that it reflects you.
    3) Identify your jewelry genre.
    4) Think and talk like a designer.
    5) Coordinate materials & techniques to best convey your aesthetic.

Once you have developed some techniques in jewelry making, the single most important thing you can do is expand your design capability. The two skills go hand in hand resulting in the best jewelry we see today. Please do not feel you need an art background to take this class. None is needed.

Contact: Connie Fox
If you would like to speak with me via phone, please email me and I will send my number.

See more info on my website: Make Jewelry You’ll Love in Five Steps Class

If you are interested in me holding this class in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle area), please contact me.

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Do You Love Color on Metal?

You are in for a treat if you stop by Taboo Gallery. The works of Brooke Marks-Swanson and Helen Shirk are being featured, two talented designers who use color on metal.

Brooke Marks-Swanson

Brooke Marks-Swanson

I “met” Brooke online when I arranged to include her work in my book on designing contemporary art jewelry. Of course, I didn’t want to pass an opportunity to meet and see her work in person at the gallery opening last week. Brooke brought 21 new designs with her, and what a stunning display.

One of the reasons I am drawn to Brooke’s work is her deft use of paint to color her metal. She incorporates rough stones (i.e., druzy) and colored metal with hues of Midwestern landscapes. Brooke’s work is lovely online, but in person, it knocked my rain boots off.

I experimented with paint on copper several years ago and I was underwhelmed with my results. It is a lot trickier than it appears. I have also seen Sharon Todd paint on metal effectively. Sharon, I wish you lived closer to Taboo so you could easily take a peek at Brooke’s work.

Helen’s jewelry was inspiring both in technique and design. Her work clearly shows the result of a long and dedicated career in jewelry making. You may have seen her work online or in books, but, standing next to it is quite a different experience.

First of all, the sheer scale of her work is remarkable. Wearable, yet it could be beautifully displayed on a wall. If you love building volume into your work, I think you would be inspired by her work. Helen’s subtlety colored, botanically themed neckpieces took me right back to long walks in the Redwood Forest.

I do hope you get a chance to drop by…

Note: The show runs through April 11th.

Taboo Gallery

Helen Shirk on Crafhaus

Brooke Marks-Swanson


All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.


Desk With Design Books

Desk With Design Books

I have not made this public up until now.

Three years back I started writing a book on the jewelry-making topic I love the most, design. Self-doubt, a lack of discipline, and an easy slide into feeling overwhelmed with the prospect, kept the beginnings of my book tucked away quietly in my file drawer.

Months ago a book search led me to How to Write a Non-Fiction eBook in 21 Days That Readers Will Love! by Steve Scott. I know, it sounds like buying the latest wrinkle cream (AKA Crisco) in hopes of looking 25 again. If you read the first sentence carefully, you took note that the 21-day book-writing venture started months ago. And, I am still writing.

This is not a complaint about Steve Scott’s book. Quite the contrary. He helped me organize the task in a way that kept feelings of overwhelm at bay, and gave me hope that I could do it.

Enter the reason why I am announcing my book writing effort now. I am on the second to the last chapter of what will be an eBook. I have not wanted to mention my work out of concern that it would slip back into the cozy comfort zone of my file cabinet. Just plain shaky confidence made me wait until rounding the final bend. There is still a lot to do, including doubling the 80 images I have already gathered from contemporary art jeweler’s around the world.

The reason I am writing the book? Besides delving into a topic that endlessly fascinates me, I want to help people develop their own voice in jewelry making, especially those who have gained some techniques and don’t know where to go from there. I hope the book will stimulate new ideas for seasoned jewelers as well.

I am grateful to Jonna Faulkner who has agreed to edit the book. She is going to need a very long blue pencil as I managed to graduate from elementary and high school without taking a single grammar class. Just kidding, Jonna! My faithful Internet companion, Christine, will format the book.

I have spent very little time making jewelry for months now. I look forward to once again having time to create new projects for those of you who take classes with me. I will keep you posted with my progress…


All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Design Talk Interview – Joan Tenenbaum

As promised, here is my November, 2013 interview with Joan Tenenbaum. Not only will you gain insights into her development as a jeweler, you will discover how Joan’s interactions with the native Alaskan people and the environment influenced her work.

Connie: Many of the jewelry makers I encounter discover this path as a “second career” or after they raise a family. You started making jewelry in high school at the age of 13 and there was an immediate attraction. What drew you in? How has this early experience influenced you?

Joan: I had always liked making things with my hands. But, honestly, I did not see jewelry coming. 
I took a class called “Crafts” in the 9th grade and everything I touched seemed so natural to me—copper tooling, linoleum block printing, enameling—and then I was introduced to silver. In an instant I knew it was my medium. I loved the scale, I loved the methodical nature of the techniques and steps involved, and I immediately recognized the symbolic nature of wearing it on one’s body. But I think the nature of the metal and the ability to fashion anything one imagined by sawing, filing and soldering parts together was the most captivating part.
Because I had such an early start in jewelry making, I have had the time and opportunity to explore practically every aspect of metalsmithing, from ring making to hollowware, from tiny granulation to sculpture, from gemstone setting to cloisonné, and to test out and practice variants on every conceivable technique of surface embellishment.

Connie: You received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. For your dissertation you did research in tiny Alaskan villages inhabited by native peoples. Were you able to continue jewelry making during this time? Were you inspired by your surroundings while you were in Alaska, or has this developed after you left?

Joan: The only time in my life since the age of thirteen that I did not have my jewelry tools with me was during the two years in which I was carrying out the research for my dissertation. Immediately upon returning to the “city” life, I had my tools shipped to me and began making jewelry again. It took about two years after that for “Alaska” to start appearing in my work in the form of mountains, but it wasn’t till I left Alaska that the animals and peoples entered the scene.

Connie: In one commentary I read about you, you described being conflicted about jewelry making versus your work as a researcher. Would you be willing to share more about this? How did you resolve the dilemma?

Joan: It was really difficult for me to leave my academic career. I resigned jobs three times, but I kept being hired back to live in this village or teach in that program. The problem was I was really good at both fields and wanted to pursue both.  But realistically, I’m an all-in sort of person and I knew I couldn’t do both at the same time. So I felt torn in half. The dilemma was finally resolved by the sheer strength of the burning desire within me to be a jeweler. The third time I resigned I said, “I don’t care if I starve; I’m not taking another job!”
Later, when the anthropologist’s voice inside me started to speak through my jewelry work, the real synthesis began.

Connie: How would you describe your work in terms of a design genre? Narrative? Symbolic? Figurative? Other?

Joan: I call my work Anthropological Jewelry. In that I mean I tell the stories of and interpret the cultures of the peoples I lived with. I tell about their lives, their food, their families, their traditions, their beliefs, and their landscape. So it is all three—narrative, symbolic, and figurative!

Connie:Your work seems imbued with wisdom and universal spiritual principles. Have you been influenced spiritually by your experiences in Alaska? How do you think your work impacts people who view or own it? Do you consider your work to have amuletic properties?

Joan: When I arrived in Alaska to embark on my field research, I consciously opened my mind and heart and suspended both judgment and disbelief. I believe this is why I was accepted so warmly in every village where I lived. But what it did for me was allow me to see how the people there interacted spiritually with the land that has and continues to support them and how this has enabled their culture to stay cohesive even in the face of revolutionary change caused by the tsunami of the dominant Colonial culture. 
I could not help but be influenced spiritually by being a participant observer in these cultures for so many decades.
Many people have expressed to me the fact that my work resonates spiritually with them. I think through my work I remind people of our spiritual connection to the earth which, in today’s world, is easy to forget.
I do feel that my pieces are amuletic. I know what I put into each one as I am making it and that energy is carried by the piece long after it leaves my hands.

Connie: Some of the themes of your work focus on the dual nature of reality, for example, male “versus” female energies. Other themes seem to focus on merging with the physical world and with animals. Were these themes of particular importance to you, or are you simply reporting your observations?

Joan: Most of my pieces contain several layers of meaning.  Beneath the literal or surface meaning is usually a deeper metaphorical story. Sometimes animals merge with the spiritual realm or with their physical surroundings. Often animals are depicted along with their spiritual essence. Often I depict a subject or a scene from two different vantage points—for example, a distant view embedded in a close-up scene, or a view of the land out to the horizon combined with a view as seen from a satellite or an aircraft. 
When studying other cultures it is important to remember that things are not always as they seem at first glance. However, these layers of symbolism in my work have evolved not so much from my observations as an anthropologist but more from my work as a linguist working with meaning in language. I strive to tell a story that will draw the viewer in to ask for and discover more.

Connie: What inspired you to tell your stories of the Alaskan indigenous people through your jewelry as opposed to following a more traditional route by writing a book?

Joan: I have been making jewelry since I was thirteen years old. Even in high school I was making pieces that had inner symbolism. But somewhere along the line my pieces started to speak about Alaska. One cannot live in that vast country, especially in remote areas, without it affecting one’s psyche. As my pieces began telling stories of the people and landscape of Alaska, I discovered that quite by accident the voice that was speaking was the voice of an Anthropologist: Interpreting and making understandable Indigenous cultures. When I saw what was happening in my work, I realized that I really could continue both my careers by this synthesis and I felt my soul finally start to be reintegrated.

Connie: You have been teaching for over 20 years. How do you work with your students to develop their own design aesthetic?

Joan: I feel that my job as a teacher is to teach the mastery of technique—forming, soldering, making a perfectly formed bezel setting, engraving, or multiple ways of surface enrichment, to cite a few examples. By teaching the mastery of technique I feel I am enabling my students to expand their vocabulary of visual effects and thus be able to tell whatever story their heart desires to tell.

Connie: What process do you follow in creating your jewelry? Do you make detailed sketches, or are you more spontaneous as you create?

Joan: I have a very methodical approach to my work. I start with an idea or story; translate that into a vision which becomes a sketch. I refine the sketch to a detailed design exactly to scale. Then and only then do I select materials and decide how I’m going to make it and get it to look like my vision.
As I work, I document each step in the process, keeping track of the date started, materials, time spent, and exactly what I did in the order I did it, including construction diagrams and mockups. I do this in a work journal that is on my bench at all times. I have a series of these work journals documenting every piece I have made since the late 1970’s. They are all bound books with blank pages and form a catalogue raisonné of my work.

Connie: I am sure many jewelry makers will be encouraged to know you have made a living creating jewelry and by teaching for the last 23 years. Do you have any advice for up and coming jewelry designers in this regard?

Joan: My advice for up and coming jewelry designers is: practice, practice, practice.  Make your work the best it can be in every way. Take workshops at every opportunity to learn new techniques, but follow your unique vision. Every year hire a great professional jewelry photographer to take shots of your best work. Take risks artistically to stretch and grow.

Connie: After reading about your life and your work, Joan, I am deeply touched. Your connection with the land, native people and animals reminds me how minimal these influences are in my own life. Has living a more conventional life in the state of Washington impacted your creative energy, your work? Does making your jewelry keep you connected to your earlier experiences in Alaska?

Joan: I have continued to keep my connections to Alaska active for the 24 years I have lived in Washington State. I read magazines and newspapers about and from Alaska and go back to visit friends and colleagues every couple of years. As often as I can I seek out beauty in nature here in Washington and my design sources continue to be from the natural world.
Having said that, living in a semi-urban community offers me the advantages of a community of friends and peers, and facilities for daily exercise workouts which keep me healthy and ready to return to Alaska at a moment’s notice!

Joan’s Website:

Joan’s Email:


All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Design Talk – Joan Tenenbaum

I decided to be illogical. Commonsense told me to introduce you to Joan Tenenbaum via my online December interview with her. But, power convinced me otherwise.

Nothing speaks as clearly about the heart of this talented woman than her work. Joan’s jewelry, along with the stories her pieces tell, captivated me from the start. Her seventeen years living with the Athabaskan Indians, and Yup’ik and Iñupiaq Eskimos has provided a rich, powerful platform for her work. This experience was part of her dissertation research for a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University.

For now, here are seven pieces of jewelry along with Joan’s stories. If you want to learn more about Joan Tenenbaum, our interview will be published next week.

Her Partner Turned to Black Bear by Joan Tenenbaum

Her Partner Turned to Black Bear by Joan Tenenbaum

By Joan Tenenbaum

This piece was inspired by a Dena’ina traditional story that I recorded in 1974 while doing my linguistic field work in Nondalton, Alaska.

The story is about two women who went into the mountains for the summer to trap ground squirrels. One of them set her snares each day and each day came back with ground squirrels. The other one always walked to a certain clearing and spent the entire day eating berries. The first woman thought this was very strange, but said nothing. Thus they passed the entire summer. As fall approached, the first woman went up to set her snares one last day. When she came down in the evening, her partner was still there, eating berries. Overcome by confusion, she burst into song, lamenting her friend’s strange behavior. At that, her partner took one look at her, put her head back down, and ran off into the brush on all fours. She had become a black bear!

This brooch depicts both an Inuit woman and a bear in contemplative pose, thoughts far away. Many northern myths describe women becoming transformed into bears. Why? In this environment the two species share the same space, the same food. Living on the tundra, the connection to the land is so strong that perhaps it was not so much a transformation but rather a flowing between states much like snowflakes and water…

The inscription on the back says, “Are their thoughts really that different?”

The portrait of the woman was adapted from a photograph by Richard Harrington taken in the 1950’s. The portrait of the bear was adapted from a sketch by Doug Lindstrand. The Dena’ina story is published in Dena’ina Sukdu’a: Traditional Stories of the Tanaina Athabaskans, recorded, transcribed and translated by Joan M. Tenenbaum.

Caribou Crossing III By Joan Tenenbaum

Caribou Crossing III
By Joan Tenenbaum

By Joan Tenenbaum

The large spiritual or foreground caribou at the top transforms into mountains on the far side of the Arctic plain on which distant caribou in low Arctic light are migrating as far as the eye can see.

This piece is about habitat, migration and the value and irony of traditional behavior. Caribou have the longest migration of any terrestrial mammal. Some caribou may travel 5,000 kilometers or 3100 miles each year. The inscription on the side says, “led by the web of memory.” The Inuit’s and Athabaskans’ deep understanding of the animals’ behavior enables them to ensure a winter’s food supply, as the caribou are “led by a web of memory” to cross rivers and valleys at traditional places where the crossing is easy but they can be easily hunted. There is a warning here too, however, in the use of fossil bone, that extinction is right around the corner for both species if habitat is not protected.

The inscription quotation is from Nick Jans, A Place Beyond, p. 71. Stellar Sea Cow is an extinct species. The last known sighting was in 1762.

 Wolf in Black Spruce IV: Our Land, Our Ancestors By Joan Tenenbaum

Wolf in Black Spruce IV:
Our Land, Our Ancestors
By Joan Tenenbaum

WOLF IN BLACK SPRUCE IV: Our land, Our Ancestors By Joan Tenenbaum

Now hard obstacles,
Where generations wandered.
It was ours, you know.

She stands accusingly, as if facing off to us. Her landscape resonates with the knowledge, both hard wired and learned, of how to wrest a living here: how to travel, cooperate, communicate, and survive. What have we done to her habitat?

Four Seasons Mandala Pendant by Joan Tenenbaum

Four Seasons Mandala Pendant by Joan Tenenbaum

By Joan Tenenbaum

For this piece, made for a Transformation theme show, I wanted to show the transformation of a tree through the seasons. I decided to divide the piece into quadrants and have the tree depicted in a different season in each quadrant. Then I decided to make the piece with four pendant bails so the piece could be worn in all four directions.

The woman who purchased this piece has a special ceremony and rotates the piece on every solstice and equinox!

Foggy Woman - A Dena'ina Story by Joan Tenenbaum

Foggy Woman – A Dena’ina Story by Joan Tenenbaum


It was summertime when the families were in the mountains hunting caribou and trapping ground squirrels. A young man encountered a young woman on the mountain. He asked her to go back home with him, but she refused. All summer long they met on the hills. Finally he asked her again to come home with him, and told her it would be all right. When they came to their camp, it began raining on them. Day after day, it rained and was foggy. The people could not hunt and their food started to run out. The woman told the man that this was the reason she had refused, that unless she left it would never be good for his people.

So they wrapped their baby in a blanket, and started up the mountain. She told him when it was far enough, that he should sit there, and she continued up the mountain. The man watched her and as she walked up, the fog was lifting with her. He burst out crying. He watched her walk over the hill, out of sight, and the fog, too, went over the hill. It stopped raining; the sun started shining.

The man wiped his eyes, turned around and looked into the valley. There were caribou—thousands of caribou. He wiped his eyes, ran down to his camp, grabbed his bow and arrows, and started hunting caribou. He packed a bunch of meat home. It was good for them again.

And that’s the way it happened, Foggy Woman Story.

I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Antone Evan during my years in Nondalton. Antone had lost his eyesight as a result of snow blindness, and he had dedicated himself to developing his memory. He had an extraordinary repertoire of traditional stories and songs. Although he spoke beautiful Dena’ina, Antone was not fluent in English, so I developed a field work strategy utilizing the strengths of my two best informants.

After I recorded the stories spoken in normal speech, I played them back for Antone at a slower speed and he repeated each word or phrase for me while I transcribed it. I then took these transcriptions to Pete Trefon, Sr., read them to him word by word and he would translate them for me. In this way I used everyone’s time efficiently and got the best data that I could.

This piece also honors the artist Dale DeArmond who died in late 2006. In 1978 DeArmond was commissioned to create the public art work for the new Nondalton school. When she went to the village she asked the people what they would like to see in their new school, and they responded, “We want pictures of Joan’s stories!!” The woodblock prints she created now illustrate my book.

Wolf Ulu Landscape Brooch by Joan Tenenbaum

Wolf Ulu Landscape Brooch by Joan Tenenbaum

By Joan Tenenbaum

This piece was the very first in my Ulu Landscape Series. I had used the form of the ulu knife before to make brooches but this was the first time I used the blade as a canvas to depict a landscape and animal.

Birch Forest Woman II - Regaining Her Bearings by Joan Tenenbaum

Birch Forest Woman II – Regaining Her Bearings by Joan Tenenbaum

BIRCH FOREST WOMAN II: Regaining Her Bearings – Enameled Spirit Helper Pendant By Joan Tenenbaum

This piece marks the second synthesis in my work of the Spirit Helper Series with the Birch Forest Series.

Whereas Birch Forest Woman I was alive with the colors of Spring, this time she is adorned with the colors of Fall: burnt orange hair, and leaves turning at the edges, ready to make their graceful fall to the earth as they are touched by wind. The two silver side flanges are at the same time extensions of her hair, and her hands in the serene Yoga Tadasana pose. Her face and form are inspired by a Punuk Style Old Bering Sea Ivory Figurine from 2000 years ago.

In this piece I used the Baisse Taille enameling technique, covering a textured surface, in this case my birch bark texture, with transparent enamel.

To me, spirit helpers are both ancient and modern. They are small helpmates to give us courage and hope and to aid us in spiritual, emotional or physical regeneration, healing, growth or serenity.

Joan Tenenbaum images in this post are copyright Joan Tenenbaum; Doug Yaple, Photographer.




All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2014 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.