Dipping Into A World Of Color

Liquid Enamel Class Held December 14-15, 2013

Sharon

Sharon

Sometimes silver just isn’t enough. Enter the varied and intriguing ways color can be introduced into jewelry designs. In the midst of holiday shopping, baking, decorating and all things celebratory, students showed up to learn about the mysteries of using liquid enamel.

I say “mysteries” because it has been a challenge figuring out the idiosyncrasies of this interesting material. I have contacted people across the pond, in the country, and even tried channeling enamelists on the other side to discover how to work with it. Uh, wrong – flush set stones was a real match. Liquid enamel isn’t that difficult to work with but finding out how to do it was a challenge!

Zineb

Zineb

I have not encountered any other technique with so many different approaches to working with it.

Above and below you will see samples that students made in class (several people left early before I could get a shot of their work). Please forgive me for the quality of the images of their work – took the shots in a jiffy. Some of my samples are below.

BTW, students, thank you for cleaning up the studio so well – I was amazed how little I had to do after you left!

Sharon

Sharon

Diane

Diane

Betty

Betty

Betty

Betty

Jeannine

Jeannine

Kamal

Kamal

Connie

Connie

~Connie
All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox.

Connie

Connie

Tool Talk

Do You Have Trouble Filing Straight?

Toolmakers Vise With Tubing

Toolmakers Vise With Tubing

If you have taken a class with me or if you have seen me work, undoubtedly you have seen me use a miter vise. My Ohio pal, Debbie Brown, introduced me to the toolmakers vise, a kissing cousin to the miter vise. What I like about this tool is that it is very stable (5 pounds) and securely holds metal between the jaws for easy filing. You can see in my first image a piece of copper sheet metal is peeking out between the jaws. Getting the sheet metal straight in the miter vise is clearly more of a challenge than it is with the toolmakers vise. Besides, by tilting it up on one end I found it easy to saw right next to the jaws, ensuring a straight line. There is a groove in the jaws to hold tubing. You can click on the images to see an enlargement.

Toolmakers Vise

Toolmakers Vise

What can’t the toolmakers vise do? Create miters. Darn.

Here is where you can get it if you are interested: Micro-Mark, part No. 21134, Regular Price: $53.95 – Anniversary Sale Price through Sept 3rd, 2013: $37.95.

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox.

Design Talk – Andy Cooperman

In Design Talk with Deb Karash she mentioned Andy Cooperman as one of two people who have had a major influence on her work. This is what she has to say about him….

About Andy, well, I adore his work, the beautiful surfaces, attention to detail, his sense of humor. As a teacher, he is a fountain of tips and information and he is so much fun to be around. His love of the field and his love of life is evident in every interaction. He’s smart, warm, honest, and generous. He’s everything I aspire to be in a teacher, though I doubt I will ever have as much technical knowledge as he has.

Andy Cooperman - Chicken Choker Necklace

Andy Cooperman – Chicken Choker neckpiece. Sterling, 14k, pearls, plastic chickens

Connie: Let’s start with wacky. Only someone with a wicked sense of humor mixes headless chickens with pearls, 14k gold, and titles it “Chicken Choker”. What role does humor play in designing your work?

Andy: Humor is central to my life and is how I experience and interpret the world, although “whacky” is not how I would characterize my sense of humor or my humorous work. That being said, there are only a handful of pieces that I’ve made that incorporate humor; for some reason, I’ve kept them pretty separate. That’s pretty funny when I think about it. Some things, like the Chicken Choker or the Ring-tisseries, are just too delicious not to make.

Andy Cooperman - Ring-tisserie Ring

Andy Cooperman – Ring-tisserie Ring. Sterling, 14k rose gold flames, 14ky, plastic chicken, copper

I like the Chicken Choker because it works for me on so many levels. The title itself is a somewhat blue or naughty pun. (I’ll let you look it up.) There’s also a second pun lurking in the background: the neck piece is a chicken choker and a pearl necklace. (I’ll let you figure that one out as well.) Puns can be complex and sophisticated. In the case of this piece, the power lies in the knowing and the not-knowing. For those who understand the puns involved there’s a risqué chuckle. For those who don’t, there’s an unsettling discomfort when and if they see that others are smiling at something they’re just not getting. They are out of the loop. The next level of discomfort emerges when those who are in the know have to decide if—and how—they will share the information and clue the others in. It’s all in the reveal. As the pun underlying the choker reveals itself these balls of discomfort are lobbed into alternate courts. It’s really delicious. I’ve just seen it happen when I showed a class of adults—one a retired psychiatrist—an image of the piece. They all smiled but some had never encountered the euphemism. The retired psychiatrist was especially surprised that he had never come across the terms Choking the Chicken or Pearl Necklace. It’s this type of reveal that I envision when I first think about making a piece like the choker and it’s what drives me to turn the idea into an object. That being said, I really try to make a humorous piece elegant and well made. The joke underlying the piece is great but in order for the piece to remain engaging, it should work on other levels. And there’s something powerful when high craft is in service to something as low-brow-shtick as a rubber chicken. With the Ring-tisserie the delight is immediate but the high level of craft makes it special.

Connie: Hmmm, “choking the chicken” and “pearl necklace”….. I’ll look it up after having tea with Madam Palm and her five sisters.

Connie: What people or experiences have had a major influence upon you as a maker?

Andy Cooperman - Coeur Brooch

Andy Cooperman – Coeur brooch. Sterling, brass, gold, ping pong ball, velvet

Andy: There are people who I really admire for how they work and how they conduct themselves. I can name several who I admire especially for their omnivorous and honest approach to being a maker. They just live it. No pretense, no slavish devotion to a particular medium. They just make. I love that.

Connie: You seem to have an open door policy when it comes to choosing materials for your work. Does an object inspire the design or do you design and search for the proper object? Is there a particular quality you are looking for when choosing non-precious materials?

Andy: The door may not be as open as you think… I do keep my eyes peeled for any possible material but, obviously, it has to resonate. And once a material rings my bell, it has to be vetted for workability and durability. I want what I build to survive—unless failure is part of the ideation behind the piece. It’s something that I talk about a lot in my Imaginative Captures class.

Andy Cooperman - Masonic Ring

Andy Cooperman – Masonic Ring. Sterling, 14k, copper rivets, copal

I look for materials that have a history that I can play against or are in some way “vital”. I also like an enigmatic quality. Like the ping pong balls: They are translucent and have a shell or membrane-like quality. They are also workable. And there’s the reveal. People are drawn to them as enigmatic objects and are then visibly taken aback when they learn what they really are…

Connie: Connected to the above question is my interest in your story behind a creation. Do you begin with the story, such as the life of mason bees (Masonic Ring) and then set out to create a piece of jewelry? Do you ever find yourself midstream making a piece and a story is revealed to you?

Andy: Here’s my artist’s statement:

Minds are like flypaper, at least mine is. All sorts of strange and unpredictable things get stuck to it. Beautiful things, unsavory things; commonplace things glimpsed from a different angle or new perspective. It could be a phrase or a new material, or maybe something so ugly and funky that it becomes beautiful. A little factoid or obscure detail can thrash around in the glue until it wriggles in and begins to itch and fester. Whatever it is, it’s something that I need to pull off the sticky brain-paper and talk about. Making is my way to understand; to reconcile and respond, to pry things open, peer inside and eventually share my observations. In the end, it boils down to this: some things simply must be made. It’s the only way I can scratch the itch.

Andy Cooperman - Sleeper Cell Brooch

Andy Cooperman – Sleeper Cell brooch. Sterling, wood, gold leaf

So there really is no consistent way that I go about making. With Hymenoptera I was looking at bees, wasps and hornets, I’ve always had an interest in insects and for some reason my mind and eye kept coming back to nests and combs and the differing habits among the order. The hierarchy and industry, for instance, was metaphoric, as was the solitary nature of mason bees. This stuff just kept coming up and I started to build work around it. The notion of a wood element supporting some sort of small, metal parasitic structure just drifted across my mind (Potter and Sleeper Cell) but the details of construction and design took some time and unfolded while I was making the work.

Andy Cooperman - Potter Brooch

Andy Cooperman – Potter brooch. Sterling, gold, wood

I draw a lot to work out an idea or details of gesture or engineering, but rarely the whole piece. The frequent exception is custom and commissioned work where the drawings communicate an idea to a client.

Connie: And this question follows from the last. Are you primarily a planner, working faithfully and consciously on what you set out to do? Or, does your work at times stem from less conscious, spontaneous forces?

Andy: There is always room for mid-course corrections. I much prefer a loosely planned road trip to the forced march of a specific itinerary. My work has been characterized as jazz in the way that I leave room for improvisation or riffing on a basic theme.

Andy Cooperman - Cushion Brooch

Andy Cooperman – Cushion brooch. Sterling, 14k rose gold, coper spiral, opal, diamonds

Sometimes I establish a basic element or theme spontaneously and the respond to or around that. Check out Cushion Brooch on my website.

Connie: Nature seems to be a significant inspiration for your jewelry. But, then there are ping-pong balls and taxidermy eyes. Is there an underlying thematic connection that runs through your work? Besides nature, what inspires your creative juices?

Andy: I see a vital quality in the ping pong balls, copal, etc. that dovetails with my interest in biology and ecology. But it’s more about histories, implied histories or creating a fiction.

The strip of sticky flypaper is the consistent thread…

Andy Cooperman - Cinch Wall Piece

Andy Cooperman – Cinch wall piece. Copper, bronze, brass, sterling, mild steel

Connie: Does teaching connect with your life as a designer/maker or do you see the two as separate entities?

Andy: I suppose that the two are blended but it’s hard to say how… I always bring work to sell so they are intertwined on that level but I am always careful to not make a class or workshop about sales. As I work in my studio and my process unfolds I do find myself at certain points breaking it down into instructive chunks and even figuring out how to explain, present or demonstrate it—how to phrase things in an understandable way—to a student. “Oh, yeah, this is super cool I gotta add this to a demo.”

Connie: How much of teaching is about helping students to develop their own design aesthetic? How do you go about establishing a creative environment for them?

Andy Cooperman - In & Out Brooch

Andy Cooperman – In & Out brooch. Sterling, bronze, copper, brass, gold leaf, ping pong ball

Andy: I try to free people up. Not to give them permission but get them to give themselves permission. I tend to be less involved with a student’s design aesthetic focusing more on helping them to liberate their internal and innate problem solver. Developing and nourishing the skills to define and understand problems can help any artist/maker resolve a myriad of issues regarding design, and execution. I really want to help students learn to see what they are making and own what they see. And to loosen up and think outside of the box, book and classroom.

Connie: Why jewelry?

Andy: Good question—great question. I ask myself that all the time…

Andy Cooperman - Sting Brooch

Andy Cooperman – Sting brooch. Sterling, brass, gold leaf, copper, ping pong ball

Connie: One of the worst fears we share as jewelry makers is the possible loss of our vision. Sadly, you have had to go through the experience of two detached retinas, 5-6 surgeries and the resulting vision impairment. How has this frightening experience affected you as a jewelry maker/designer?

Andy: Well, obviously, I had to decide if I could still make—anything. Once I figured out that I could work around things I had to decide if I wanted to continue to make jewelry. I’m still not completely sure. I have trouble seeing certain things and depth presents certain problems.
Andy Cooperman - Specula Wall Piece

Andy Cooperman – Specula wall piece. Bronze, sterling, brass, mild steel, copper, silver, glass

But I think that I am okay in large part. I think that I have recommitted to making. My experience may also have made me a better teacher, more patient and understanding of limitations. I definitely understand that time and ability can be short and that you never know when either will run out…

Connie: Readers, you might be interested in watching this film titled, Andy Cooperman The Metalsmith: A Short Film by Dan McComb – http://www.vouchmag.com/2013/04/andy-cooperman-the-metalsmith-a-short-film-by-dan-mccomb/

Connie: Is there anything about your work you want to share with people? For example, pieces that are currently for sale, new work, classes you teach, website link, blog, etc.

Andy Cooperman - Specula Wall Piece Detail

Andy Cooperman – Specula Wall Piece Detail. Bronze, sterling, brass, mild steel, copper, silver, glass

Andy: Generally, anything that someone sees on andycooperman.com that doesn’t have a red dot is for sale. I would love for people to remember that I enjoy making custom and commissioned work, even over long distance. Oh yeah—I hope that people remember that I also work bigger: objects and sculpture.

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved. Andy Cooperman images in this post are copyright Andy Cooperman.

Design Talk

Deb Karash Jewelry

Deb is teaching a fabrication class at Wild Acres, North Carolina August 26-30th. Please see below for more information.

Meet Deb Karash. She is a studio artist living in the beautiful hills of Bakersville, North Carolina. I met Deb at Idyllwild Arts’ Metals Week in June, 2013. Her exquisitely crafted, distinctive work featuring colored pencil drawings on metal is likely not new to you. Here she talks about meaningful influences on her work, what inspires her, and more.

Connie: What educational/training experiences or people have influenced you the most?

Deb: There have been so many that it’s hard to list. I would have to say that my favorites were workshops with Andy Cooperman and Tim McCreight. I’m a big believer in workshops. It’s the best way to learn if you don’t need a degree.

Connie: What drew you to using colored pencil in your work?

Deb-Karash-02Deb: I was a big fan of Helen Shirk, and then later, Marilyn da Silva. I was using patinas on my work but wanted more color. I knew they both used colored pencil so I decided to give it a try. At the time I was using stones in my work and I looked at the detail of the color in the stones to develop my color pallet.

Connie: Was the use of colored pencils love at first sight or did the attraction develop over time?

Deb: It took me a long time to develop a technique that worked but the appeal was there as soon as I tried it.

Connie: Do you consider yourself primarily an abstract, narrative, representational or expressionist artist? Other?

Deb: I would say that my work is abstract even though much of it is botanical it certainly is not realistic in any way.

Connie: What process do you follow in the creation of a piece? Do you have a well laid out plan before you pick up your metal, or do you work spontaneously letting the design develop as you go?

Deb-Karash-03Deb: I spend a lot of time sketching and will work on getting the form just right for as long as it takes. I have a pretty good idea about how it will look but I usually determine textures and colors as I go along.

Connie: Who or what inspires your work?

Deb: What doesn’t?! I, of course, look to nature for inspiration, but also to vintage fabrics, botanical drawings, architecture, other forms of art like ceramics.

Connie: What inner resources do you rely on in the design and creation of your work?

Deb: I am tenacious and hard working and I find that these 2 traits have served me well. I’m willing to stick with a design until I can work out the form and the structure to my satisfaction.

Connie: Were you always creative, or did your creativity develop over time?

Deb-Karash-04Deb: My mother says that when I was small and she would buy me paper dolls that I would never cut out the clothes that came with them, I would just make my own. I think I have always been a maker.

Connie: How do you deal with creative blocks?

Deb: I don’t often have them but when I do I go back to my old sketchbooks to see if there is something that I forgot about or never had time to make. I think that because I am a production jeweler most of the time I am constantly making something and each piece just leads me into the next.

Connie: Do you have advice you can share with others in how (or even why) to develop your own design aesthetic?

Deb-Karash-05Deb: Finding your own style is crucial. As a teacher my work is sometimes copied by my students and when that happens I’m forced to remind them that they must take my techniques and transform them into something of their own. I would say to look around at what you love, whether it’s fashion, architecture, nature, music, and see what you can find for inspiration. Definitely keep a sketchbook, even if you don’t draw well.

Connie: Is there anything about your work you would like people to know? For example, galleries you are in, new work, classes, articles/books you are in, website, blog.

Deb-Karash-06Deb: I am going to be teaching a Fabrication workshop at Wild Acres in North Carolina, August 26-30. Students can contact me (dkjewelry@msn.com) for the details. It’s a beautiful location and $650 includes class and room and board! I also have a 2 person show at Crimson Laurel Gallery call “Strange Offerings: Beyond the Garden Gate” and you can see all of the work at www.crimsonlaurelgallery.com.

You can read more about Deb Karash on her blog: Deb Karash Jewelry

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved. Deb Karash images in this post are copyright Deb Karash.

Lucky Girls Club

Starting in front, counter-clockwise: Billie, Terri, Joy, Teresita, Melissa, and Suzi

Starting in front, counter-clockwise: Billie, Terri, Joy, Teresita, Melissa, and Suzi

The ladies arrived, organized their workspace and put on their aprons. Not just any ole apron, but one that Suzi, a member of the group, silk-screened for each member. On it was printed “Lucky Girls Club, San Diego, California, 2013”.

Here is the story behind the apron. A month ago Terri Brush, principle organizer of an event on the Oregon coast called “Art Camp”, asked if I would teach “Bangles and Dangles” to a group of six women. She wanted to treat 5 women who have volunteered to help her build “Art Camp” into a successful event for jewelry enthusiasts. The women happily work their tails off at this bi-annual happening because they love being together and, of course, they love making jewelry.

Terri flew them to San Diego, provided room and board, paid for their class and bought all of their supplies. Their love and respect for each other was genuine and, like old friends, they teased, helped, encouraged and laughed. With each piece of jewelry they made, there were high-fives and big smiles. I know the feeling.

Despite wearing a standard jewelry supply store apron, I certainly felt like one lucky girl spending a couple of days with this inspiring group.

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Dancing On The Head Of A Pin

I don’t like to fuss a lot. And believe me, if this class followed traditional granulation methods I would be sitting in a cell at County Mental Health. Last weekend’s class titled “No Fuss Granulation” allowed us all to end the weekend with sanity intact.

Not to say there weren’t challenges, the primary one being heating to such an extent that the Argentium granules reach fusing temperature to adhere to the sheet metal. Not only adhere, but adhere-adhere. In soldering circles we commonly say, “Well it passed the quench test” followed by “It passed the pickle test”. Generally if you clear these two hurdles you are good to go. Not so with Argentium granulation. It is perfectly possible for the granules to appear to be fused, and they are to some extent, but not enough to pass two more tests: brass brushing and finishing.

What makes this process exciting is heating up tiny little pieces of metal (with a lower melting temperature than sterling silver and a higher price tag) to a very high temperature. Just this side of melting temperature. Working with metal is not for sissies. We all know that.

These women are anything but sissies. They earned their stripes/badges/ notches, or whatever you want to call them. They did it and here is the proof. You can click on the thumbnails to see an enlargement.

Ruth

Ruth

Ruth's Class Work

Ruth’s Class Work

Laurie

Laurie

Laurie's Class Work

Laurie’s Class Work

Jan

Jan

Jan's Class Work

Jan’s Class Work

Elaine

Elaine

Elaine's Class Work

Elaine’s Class Work

Alyssa

Alyssa

Alyssa's Class Work

Alyssa’s Class Work

Michelle & Brenda

Michelle & Brenda

Michelle's Class Work

Michelle’s Class Work

Brenda's Class Work

Brenda’s Class Work

Carol's Class Work

Carol’s Class Work

PS. Carol has no pic.

Note to Diane: Sorry we missed getting your pics – maybe next time!

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

What Was I Thinking?

I left for Metals Week on Thursday, June 13th with the intention of blogging every day. What a crazy, cuckoo notion that was! All of my attention was focused on students, class prep, evening programs, and catching some rest here and there. Just the same, I managed to take a few photos as seen below (you can click on images to see an enlargement). Metals Week was simply incredible and I am already anticipating next year. I won’t be teaching but will be eager to join a class as a student. Three teachers were announced by the Metals Week Director, Deb Jemmott: Charity Hall, Harold O’Connor, and Elise Priuss. It is never too soon to eagerly await June 2014!

Cuffs Studio Idyllwild

Cuffs Studio Idyllwild

Forming Anticlastic Cuff

Forming Anticlastic Cuff

Marking Anticlastic Cuff

Marking Anticlastic Cuff

April

April

Eva

Eva

Jo

Jo

Joanne

Joanne

Jona

Jona

Paula

Paula

Peggy

Peggy

Rebecca

Rebecca

Susan

Susan

Zineb

Zineb

Jim & Gail With The Packed Car

Jim & Gail With The Packed Car

 
Betsy Manheimer Cuff

Betsy Manheimer Cuff

Betsy Manheimer Cuff

Betsy Manheimer Cuff

I didn’t get a picture of Betsy, but she did send me these two images above of her cuffs. Any other students who would like images of your work to appear in my blog, please send them to christine@jatayu.com.

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Off To Idyllwild!

Tools and supplies packed up for trip to Idyllwild.

Tools and supplies packed up for trip to Idyllwild.

The trek to Metals Week begins today. This is only part of the tools and supplies I am taking along for my Cuffs class. What’s missing? 9 bracelet mandrels, a bench shear, 5 stakes, 2 large bags of hammers, and miscellaneous stuff in the trunk of Jonna’s car. Oh yes, and a vise and rolling mill. I have just one question – will it all fit in Gail’s SUV?

I love the thought of 70-75 people from all over the country preparing to converge in the small mountain village of Idyllwild. The community that develops in one short week along with focused, in-depth learning, is the perfect combination for avid jewelry makers. We have been anticipating this week for months. Let the fun begin…….

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Two Gifted Teachers – Two Exciting Classes

Deb-Jemmott-SpoonI must admit after reading Deb Jemmott’s description of her rolling mill class at Metals Week in Idyllwild, I was really intrigued. Here is what she says about it:

In addition to imprinting metal with designs using paper, found objects, and metal (including pierced and etched metal patterns), students will learn to produce the “married metal” Multi-Metal Lamination (metal overlay) and other useful techniques. This course will demonstrate how the rolling mill can expand the metalsmith’s technical vocabulary with a range of new finishes and textures, including highly graphic imagery, background pattern, texture and “painterly” effects.

Deb-Jemmott-RingDeb is a gifted teacher – whenever you show up in one of her classes you are guaranteed to learn a lot. You can read more about her class here: http://www.idyllwildarts.org/page.cfm?p=722

If you are adventurous and love to learn new techniques, Fred Zweig’s Metals Week class in Nunome Zogan is sure to satisfy. Fred, also a gifted teacher, has studied traditional techniques that can be applied to contemporary jewelry designs. In this class you will learn to overlay gold, silver, or copper into iron.

Please see this page for more information: http://www.idyllwildarts.org/page.cfm?p=722&pback=541

If you would like to see what other people are doing with Numome Zogan, check out Chris Nelson’s work at Urban Armour: http://www.urban-armour.com/Showcase.html

If you have any questions about Metals Week, please feel free to contact me
at connie@conniefox.com.

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.

Idyllwild Arts’ Metals Week Flyer

I just received this flyer from Idyllwild Arts’ Metals Week program, and as we speak I am knee deep in making two new cuffs for my class. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: connie@conniefox.com.

Metals-Week-Flyer

~Connie

All images and text are ©Copyright 2010-2013 Connie Fox except where indicated. All rights reserved.