Featured Member

Each month a new Featured Member is chosen from the completed member profiles on our website. Their interview and work is highlighted on our blog and social media. Visit our archive of past Featured Members.

April 2018




Ji Hwang

Los Altos, CA

Tell us a little about yourself.

Capturing the innate beauty of form and function is the
inspiration for my jewelry. Reflecting my diverse background – born in Seoul, Korea; educated in New York City; worked as a Jewelry Design Coordinator at Gemvara, Inc, where I used CAD (computer aided design) to create custom jewelry; I lived in Lincoln MA; and recently moved to CA – I find beauty in elements from industrial objects to natural forms. My design expresses the places where I have lived; ranging from pulleys and wheels from urban, industrial environments, to buds and leaves from rural life surrounded by nature. Recent works involve the exploration of acupuncture pins as a medium-curiosity stirred both by growing up with aunts who were acupuncturists and by having carried chronic shoulder pain for a long time. I find great strength in these fine pins and in the springy tension of their creative form. It gives me joy to transform ordinary elements into a wearable aesthetic.

What is your favorite tool and why?

I have many different collections of pliers. I especially love Lindstrom cutter and pliers. Last year, I purchased a Puk 5 welder at an MJSA show. Since then, that has been my favorite tool to enable welding/playing of both fine pins and other metals. Last, but not least, computer aided design (CAD) technology (the CAD that I use is called Matrix software) is another tool that further enhances my creativity.

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

Recently, I have been using acupuncture pins as a medium. Within its ethereal delicate pins, there is shape and structure that is intractable. Utilizing its tensile, flexible characteristic also allows my creativity to move into more abstract forms than the realistic representations that I used to create. Working with different materials and themes have been a joy.
For example, industrial versus natural, opens my mindset and allows me to experiment with the materials that I use.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I believe an object holds its own beauty and individuality. I like to pay attention to my surroundings to find an object, incorporating its innate quality into my jewelry. For example, assimilating the pulley’s industrial mechanical function as an aesthetic to adjust the length of the necklace, or a pod’s ungarnished humble form to evoke the promise of life.  My work reflects and is transformed by the diversity of places visited and the different phases of my life. Last year, I went to Haiti with our family to visit a village called Canaan Valley. Observing the very challenging life and modest housing structures- but also the warmth and joy of the people- this place remains in my heart and I know that it will be the next inspiration for my work.

How long have you been working in metals and what brought you into this field?
I graduated from Parsons School Design in 1995 in
metal/product design. So, I have been working for over 20 years in this field (juggling raising a family along the way). I think I was initially attracted to jewelry design to create an object in small form/scale that I could control and shape. The joy and the challenge has been making jewelry that enables the wearer to connect emotionally and allows her to make a statement about who she is!

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

Find an artist community to join and be playful with what you want to make. When you get excited about the ideas you have, explore more and don’t be afraid to go deeper. Have open critiques with other artists and get feedback from them, which can further broaden your perspective.

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?

It is challenging for me to go deeper to the extent of the
concept’s core. Through trials and errors, we get to know the potential innate quality. So, rather than rushing to the resolution/destination quickly, I remind myself to take the time to view the full perspective of the process. Working with acupuncture pins, shaping and constructing them was my initial motive, but by experiencing/observing the medium, the
springy tension was the beautiful intrinsic quality that I
realized.  So, I am now designing to accentuate that quality as the aesthetic!

Favorite resource/vendor or website

Rio Grande
Otto Frei (http://www.ottofrei.com)
Hoover & Strong (https://www.hooverandstrong.com/refining)
Hauser & Miller (http://www.hauserandmiller.com)
Myron Toback Inc. (http://www.myrontoback.com)
Ross Metals (https://rossmetals.com)
Shapeways (https://www.shapeways.com)
MJSA (http://www.mjsa.org)
Matrix (https://www.stuller.com/matrix)
SNAG (https://www.snagmetalsmith.org)
AJF (https://artjewelryforum.org)
Trust the Process by Shaun McNiff
Jewelry: Concepts and Technology by Oppi Untracht