LILLA CORY WARREN

March 2018
California
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Tell us a little about yourself.

I am really passionate about improving the connection between humans and our Earth, through food, through commerce, and even through the way we interact with each other. I am currently, and eagerly, learning about organic farming because I feel that our culture has moved too far from our connection to the earth we come from, and one way to get back into balance is to understand where our sustenance really comes from. I will always make jewelry, I’m sure, because for me, it has always been about creating objects in which to place important beliefs, as symbols to help us move smoothly through life with our favorite, most beautiful reminders of what we believe in, on our fingers and around our necks. 

The piece I currently wear every day for this purpose is about balance. It is like a triple Yin yang, three aspects in perfect harmonious balance with one another. I seek to work in the most harmonious way possible, making my studio practice greener in every way.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My planishing hammer! Its just an aesthetically beautiful tool that I have found joy in learning to use it as an extension of my body to deliver more pressure to the metal I am working, to create form and texture, and to smooth it. In that sense, I equally appreciate my needle nose pliers; I have spent so much time with a pair of those in my hand that it takes almost no effort to integrate their movements with my own.

Which materials do you create with most and what is your attraction to using them?

I most enjoy working with recycled or repurposed materials. There is already so much material to work with on the planet, and why not keep it in cycle? Outdated jewelry with stones becomes something fresh and new when the silver is recycled and the stones re-used.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My work comes from a strong blend of natural phenomena and spiritual traditions from all around the world. Jewelry has long been connected to more spiritual aspects of life. Sometimes jewelry ideas come to me in dreams, and I happen to believe all true inspiration comes from somewhere ethereal that we all tap into!

How long have you been working in metals and what brought you into this field?

I started making beaded jewelry as a kid and worked in a really fantastic bead store called Beadniks in Massachusetts where I first saw some truly unique, handmade silver jewelry and met a co-worker who was taking jewelry classes in art school. I hadn’t realized that jewelry could be an art form like that! I had been told I was an artist from early childhood, and I took that seriously! So I was really into painting and drawing and photography by the time high school was over. I went to the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, and when I took a beginning jewelry class I was instantly hooked on working with metal after just filing and sawing. I knew I would do this the rest of my life. It was just too satisfying to be able to make a ring from start to finish in less than a day.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in metals?

Get really good at every technique that interests you, so that nothing holds you back when you’re creating something you have imagined! And, don’t try to live up to anything you have already seen; make what YOU think is beautiful or what will bring YOU joy! Those are the things that will ring with the most truth in the world because they are something only you, as an individual, could make, and that is the most interesting work anyone could hope to see. And this is a way of approaching artwork that I am still learning.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a metal artist and have you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?

I struggle with the business side of things. Both in production and in all the rest, like marketing. And I used to spend a lot of my studio time on custom pieces but I’m finally accepting that I don’t really want to do that anymore. I’m also currently shifting away from totally hand-fabricated and hollow formed pieces as my production line, toward cast pieces done off-site. I’ll save the hand fabrication for a few passion fueled art pieces and work to market my new cast line this year, so that I don’t spend all of the energy I have for the studio on things that don’t really light me up inside the way one of a kind pieces do.

I have also struggled with motivation at times. To be brutally honest, there would be days up until last year or so (and still, though rarely) that I would show up to my studio and just. not. want. to. work. So I started looking at the reasons why, and though I found none that were quite concrete, I knew that I needed to take better care of myself so that I could show up better for the thing I really wanted to be doing, which was creating beautiful, thoughtful, well-made jewelry. I share this because I think that it shouldn’t be shameful to admit that most of us struggle with enthusiasm for even the things we love, sometimes. So I have slowly cut out certain destructive behaviors, like drinking and smoking, and added things like meditation and better eating habits, and in general, I feel like a more present and capable human being, able to show up for myself on the days that I have time to spend in my studio.

Favorite resource/vendor or website you would like to share?

I love Hoover and Strong for their Harmony recycled metals!

https://www.hooverandstrong.com/

Instagram : @altar.jewelry

Sher Novak

December 2017
Albany, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I have a strong sense of belonging to a place. I grew up in an old house in a small town in Connecticut, surrounded by extended family. There were very few idle hands in my world. Quilts, clothes, sweaters, furniture, tin lamps, stone walls… we made things. I went to the woods for materials, or scavenged the trunks in the attic. My creativity has always been encouraged and supported.

I left home at 17 to attend Parsons School of Design. I took a semester off, and didn’t return. I was working for a designer in Tribeca, sewing her samples and managing the sample room. It was the 70’s; exciting times in Soho/Tribeca. I had intended to go back to school; but one way or another, life got in the way.

Interview

Holly J Carter

August 2017
Richmond, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

Originally from Minnesota, my family moved to a small southwestern horse town in Arizona when I was in first grade, and then we moved to the ‘Big City’ of Phoenix when I was in high school. Making has always been in my blood as I come from a long line of custom cabinet makers. I loved to create with scraps of wood, paint, rocks, sewed Barbie clothes from fabric scraps, and created knotted embroidery thread jewelry. I used crocheting skills taught by my grandmother to make doll clothes and doilies. I even wrote poetry and had my first published poem in junior high. I was also quite the little entrepreneur, selling to my friends my hand and machine sewn scrunchies, and seed bead bracelets that I made on my bead loom.

Interview

Lexi Daly

July 2017
Sebastopol, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

Growing up, travel was very important to my parents, they wanted my sisters and me to see the world, learn its history, and experience the beauty of nature as much as possible. I remember always being so fascinated by little intricate objects I found in nature while camping and traveling; seed pods, tiny wildflowers, seashells, and butterfly wings. When I was five, my grandmother gave me a huge box of beads that I obsessed over, and my fascination with tiny objects slowly developed into a love of jewelry making. I fell in love with small glass beads called seed beads and spent much of my childhood teaching myself different traditional bead weaving techniques from cultures all over the world that use them. I found the intricate patterns of seed beads woven together with thread fascinating, like so many throughout history have.

Interview

Kirk McGuire

June 2017
San Francisco, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I was literally born an artist, and from the young age of only four I was noticeably artistic, I amazed my kindergarten teachers and friends with my ‘born skills’ for drawing. Or sculpting ceramic animals, and nature scenes. Born in raised in the Sierra Foothills in Placerville California. I grew up hiking almost daily in the forest near my home, studying any kind of nature and wildlife I could soak in, including, insects, birds, mammals and especially amphibians and reptiles.

Interview

Lucy Gamble

May 2017
San Francisco, Ca

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire playing in rivers and driving down dirt roads. I’ve always enjoyed creating with my hands and went through various crafty phases as a child- pillow sewing, card making, beading. The glue gun and I got along very well and we ended up with an old sleeping bag covered in dried hot glue. Metal work has become the favorite creative outlet of mine over the last few years, but it has always been important for me to have a craft. Outside of metal, I work on a business operations team for a tech company named Okta. I am an avid music listener, explorer, a bit of a runner and an aspiring dog musher.

Interview

Olivia Shih

March 2017
Oakland, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

Born in the US and raised in Taiwan, I’m an artist, jewelry designer, and writer currently based in Oakland, California. In my conceptual work, I explore the imprint of sexism on our daily habits, often through alternative materials paired with metal armature. Questioning the construction of gender and reinterpreting feminism are the driving forces behind my work.

I know some artists say they aren’t interested in political or confrontational issues, but identifying as an artist is a political act in itself. Instead of valuing the financial stability and familiarity of a 9-to-5 job, an artist might choose a part-time gig with little upward mobility in exchange for more creative running room. The artist values flexibility, creativity, and ultimately, freedom of expression, which is intrinsically political.

As Aristotle aptly puts it, humans, by nature, are political animals.

Interview

Alexa

February 2017
San Francisco, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

My life experiences have been very diverse, and are all part of who I am as an artist. I speak many languages, have traveled around the world, and lived in Mexico and India. I have known the rhythm of life in villages with no electricity or running water. I have slept in a manger in the foothills of the Himalayas, lived in a temple compound in southern India, and participated in ritual dancing and visitations through the night disguised as a demon in a village in Mexico. These and so many other experiences have enriched my inner landscape. Although, I am not drawn to mimic ethnic styles, my work often has a textural feeling that is reminiscent of lives more connected to earth and nature and simple tools.

However, at the end of all travel there is an experience of coming home and reintegration into one’s own sense of self. Ultimately, the effect of so much exposure to other cultures has been to clarify who I am as a person, a woman and an artist. It is mostly from the unique forms, textures and themes of the world in which I live that I draw inspiration. Although an element may appear in my work that has an ethnic feel, I am driven to frame it with a simple, sleek shape or surface that reflects a more modern sensibility. The best example of this juxtaposition is a series of cuffs that consist of fold-formed, oxidized copper attached to polished silver with silver rivets.

Interview

Jenny Reeves

December 2016
San Francisco, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Levittown, PA, a former steel town outside of Philadelphia. My grandma was an accomplished seamstress, needleworker and cook and she taught me many skills as a child. Thanks to her I learned to work with my hands at a young age while developing an eye for detail and fine craftsmanship.

Interview

Cynthia Clearwater

November 2016
Pleasant Hill, Ca

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I have always been creative and feel compelled to make things with my hands. Ceramics, fiber arts, and metalsmithing have all occupied my attention at various times in my life. I have a BA in Fine Arts from San Francisco State University and an MA in Museum Administration. I have also had hands-on instruction in various metals techniques from the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts. I count myself a hobbyist because I have never tried to make a living from my art. My professional career was at the University of California Berkeley as a college and museum administrator.

Interview

Ed Lay

September 2016
El Cerrito, Ca

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I have a lifelong interest in education. For 30 years, I wrote programming languages for kids and teachers at the School of Education at UC Berkeley. Now I teach metalsmithing, stone setting and enameling at the Richmond Art Center in the East Bay.

Interview

Bo Li

August 2016
Millbrae, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I had a Master’s degree in Veterinary Medicine and had worked in that field for several years. But I couldn’t give up the dream of art from childhood and became a painter. In 2016, I graduated from Academy of Art University major in Jewelry and Metal Art with outstanding records.

I love literature, traditional culture, and nature. I am good at extracting those elements and combining them with enthusiasm to my jewelry. My understanding and passion for life and my love of nature are resources of my endless great ideas and designs. When I was making jewelry or painting, I devoted my whole heart and soul to pursue the pure beauty.

By calm, elegant, and abstract design, my jewelry expresses beauty, pure, peace, and goodness of life.

Interview

David Olson

July 2016
San Francisco, Ca

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an engineer by day. I grew up in San Francisco. After a stint as a Navy submariner, I lived Albuquerque and then Phoenix and have just moved back to San Francisco. I have two fantastic adult sons who were raised around all of the art, science and creativity I could cram into them.

Interview

Carolyn Tillie

June 2016
Montara, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

Middle aged, I’ve been juggling jewelry work with culinary work for over thirty years. Much of my bachelor’s in metals was done at San Diego State University under Arline Fisch and Helen Shirk. I obtained an MFA in 1998 at Cal State Long Beach under the tutelage of Dieter Müller-Stach and Al Pine. I am also a Certified Master Chef and obtained advanced certification under the Wine Spirit Education Trust (one of those steps towards becoming a sommelier). In the beginning, the jewelry work started in my early twenties with dragons, faeries, and Celtic knotwork designs that I sold Renaissance and street fairs.

Privately, I create occult- and alchemical-themed regalia and jewelry for several fraternal organizations with my Master’s Thesis work all based on the Kabbalah, occult-based Judaic mysticism. The past decade has been spent combining my great love of food in several jewelry lines that utilize miniature plastic and polymer clay food. I have worked as a food-and-wine author, with my first published book coming out next year, “Oysters, A Global History.” I am currently working on developing a project that will research and present the history food and ingredients as art forms: www.foodasartbook.com.

Interview

Owen McInerney

May 2016
San Francisco, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in SF but grew up in Dublin, Ireland, where it rains all the time and the skies are always gray!  I love the warm weather here (for the most part!) and the blue skies.  I’ve had several careers on the way to being a full time metalworker but as they say, life is about the Journey…

Interview

Wei La Poh

April 2016
Oakland, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Hong Kong, but raised with a multi-cultural state of mind. I have lived in Asia for sixteen years and moved abroad to finish her last two years of high school education in London. I then went to pursue the arts in Brooklyn, NY. I finally received her BFA in Jewelry/ Metal Arts with High Distinction at California College of the Arts in 2013. I then went to pursue my MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design in Jewelry + Metalsmithing. My current body of work is based on found enamelware. I am deeply fascinated with the history of enamelware and investigate this subject in the context of how it can be jewelry. It is an ongoing investigation on how these found objects can become adornments. This work can be found under the Handle series.

Interview

Sam Woehrmann

March 2016
San Francisco, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I am jewelry designer, gemologist, and custom goldsmith living and working out of my home studio in the Castro district of San Francisco. I am in my second year of doing both whole sale and retail trade shows and I work with a handful of galleries around the country that sell my work.

I came to San Francisco in 2001 to attend the Revere Academy. In 2004 I completed gemology training at GIA in Carlsbad California. I have been back in San Francisco since 2005 working as a bench jeweler for two different designers and developing my own line of jewelry.

Interview

Oakley Parsons

February 2016
Concord, Ca
Website

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Tell us a little about yourself.

I moved to California a couple of years ago, from Africa. I’m originally from Canada but have lived in the US off and on for many years. I came to metalwork and jewelry quite recently, beginning just two years ago at the Revere Academy in San Francisco. After a long and varied career I’m finally doing what I love – working with my hands, being creative and being my own boss. I love working in my studio where I can spend all day with my two dogs who are the joy of my life!

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