December 2018

Sherry Cordova

December 2018

Website: sherrycordova.com
Instagram: SherryCordovaJewelry

    [caption id="attachment_2804" align="alignnone" width="1599"]
  • Sherry Cordova[/caption]

Tell us a little about yourself.

I love challenging myself, creating art and viewing nature. As a child I was always making something with my hands, but that stopped when I was too busy putting myself through university for a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering. Years later I felt the need to create art again to supplement the day to day creative problem solving of R&D work here in Silicon Valley. I began taking adult education classes in different mediums. In a beginning jewelry class at a now defunct local supply store, I knew metal was the medium I’d been subconsciously looking for all my life. As a bonus, many of my friends are people I’ve met through the metal arts. My friends share my love of creating wearable art, of problem solving, collecting hand tools, and playing with fire.  

What is your favorite tool and why?

The flex shaft because of the wide variety of tasks it can be used for depending on the hand piece, bits used and how it’s held: texturing, sanding, polishing, drilling, cutting, stone setting, making and modifying other tools, and more. I mounted a flex shaft sideways on my bench and use it as a mini grinder for stainless steel parts. When I need to round the end of an ear wire, I swap out the grinding stone for a cup bur.

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

I create most often with low tarnish recycled sterling silver sheet and titanium sheet metal ‘scrap’ from the motorsports industry. I gravitate toward sheet metal because it’s so versatile. I can cut and form silver sheet into a 3D freeform bracelet that looks like kelp, or have sheet metal laser cut for the sea creatures I’m creating.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My art is an expression of gratitude to the ocean and my way of giving it a voice. I love the sea and understand the desire for mementos and jewelry which evoke vivid memories of beautiful scenes and experiences. I have witnessed the fragility of marine ecosystems while SCUBA diving including spots that are decimated by coral and fish collecting, coral bleaching, overfishing and the effects of industrialization. On the bright side, I’ve also been to places that have been impacted very little by humankind. The difference is stunning. My designs evoke the marvels of marine life and my underwater memories while leaving sea creatures and the seaside untouched.

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

I began working in metals in the late 90’s when I wished for contemporary bespoke jewelry that spoke to me. Decades earlier, my grandparents had brought me a filigree necklace from Cordoba, Spain where part of my family had come from centuries ago. I wanted to make some earrings that complemented the necklace, so I found and began taking classes at a local shop to learn soldering, stone setting, casting and lapidary. I was thrilled when I ran across a notice for a new workshop at the shop by Yemenite filigree master Yehuda Tassa. I took many of his workshops and learned a lot from Yehuda who is still a dear friend. During that time, I realized all my pieces were either based on sea creatures or ended up looking like them even when I started out to make something totally different.

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

Pushing each new learned technique and tool to the limits will be helpful when an idea for a new piece comes into your head and you are thinking through the ways you could create the piece.  

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?

My choice of materials and processes can either create a light environmental impact or a very harsh impact. Keeping this in mind causes me to spend more time on the upfront planning of pieces.  

For years I wanted to make a series based on Ernst Haeckel’s drawings of the tiny microscopic sea creatures called Radiolarians. I knew I wanted to avoid spending hours and hours sawing and drilling tiny features for every design because an active life has taken its toll and I need to minimize repetitive motion.

The first Radiolarian piece I made was via chemical breakthrough etch techniques in Carol Webb’s workshop. I wanted to avoid the traditional etching chemicals, so I researched how I could breakthrough etch tiny and large features in silver at the same time in a more environmentally friendly way. I built an electrolytic etching system to use a distilled water and cupric nitrate solution. The solution is endlessly renewable if I filter out the floating silver particles and only use it with certain metals. Effective, and low impact, yet still time intensive due to all the masking and post etch cleanup of the metal, so I began researching how I could use modern industrial techniques to accomplish the same results.

My husband’s contacts at a local laser machine vendor and sheet metal shops helped me to begin working with a local sheet metal shop and the laser tool manufacturer to determine if it was possible to laser cut tiny features in 30 gauge sheet silver. I lucked out because the owner of one sheet metal shop is a metal artist who was interested in cutting precious metals with a laser. I figured out how digitize my hand drawn designs, learned how to use my husband’s CAD software, and learned how to correctly format CAD files for the sheet metal shop and the laser tool maker’s research facility. Most industrial tools are built for low conductive and low reflective metals and cutting thin silver is a tricky ask. They determined it was possible using a certain type of laser tool. The shop I’d been working with didn’t have that tool, and my research unearthed that cutting silver on the tool they had was very risky to the health of their very expensive laser tool, so we stopped.  Finding a metal shop that had the right kind of laser cutting tool and was willing to take relatively small orders was the final step.

The whole process took much longer than a year. Happily, I can now spend my time drawing and tweaking designs, format the files for the laser cutter, and email the files to the laser shop. I drop-ship silver and titanium to the same shop, and I receive the cut pieces which are ready for me to texture, shape and finish. The final process is easier on my body and easier on the environment than the methods I first considered.

Favorite resource / vendor or website you’d like to share?

Website: Local Bay Area source for cupric nitrate labproinc.com

Vendor(s): Local independent artists in other media have offcuts that can add color, texture, and dimension  

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November 2018

Maria Carmella Luna

November 2018

Website: www.catchthemoondesign.com

Tell us a little about yourself.

My life path has been in and out of the creative process. It started in the 70’s. I have been a fine artist working in many mediums — stain glass, weaving, painting and sculpture. As a painter, I was “figurative” colorist. A drawing teacher asked if I every tried sculpting, I had not. I found my “bliss” in sculpting, first casting in plaster and resin then bronze. As a sculptor, I loved the female form and used it in a contemporary way in my work. Life changes . . . I had to take the time I used in my art for a corporate job. I worked in marketing in the semi conductor business and I retired from the graphic design business.

Jewelry is my first passion. My mother put jewelry on me as a child and I wore her pieces and her gifts of jewelry until I purchased my own. It is hard for me to wear my own work because I love every piece in my collection. I have been asked to often if what I was wearing was my own work and it was not. I don’t leave home without putting on something of my own work.

I love traveling and being with my granddaughter who seems to be growing faster then I would like. I am working at having all the little girls in my life like bright shiny things – jewelry.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My dental tools that I traded with my dentist for one of my sculptures. They have replaced my larger sculpture tools I used on oil based clay. They are my tiny sculptural tools when carving wax – I love to sculpt.

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

I use silver and semi precious stones. I enjoy working in wax because they are my mini sculptures and wax as clay is more forgiving. However, I tend to fabricate more to keep up with my soldering skills and I can finish pieces faster.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I have designed series of work inspirited by the sea and abstract shapes. I am a Zacateca Indian from Mexico – a tribe the Aztec’s annihilated. I am inspired by MesoAmerican temple carvings of animals, spirits and hieroglyphics. I feel more connected with my heritage using these elements in my work.

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

I retired in 2000, all I would have is time and I could be creative consistently. I tried different mediums that did not inspire me. I love jewelry and am a collector so I took a jewelry class. In learning how to make jewelry, I found that “bliss” again.

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

Be patient with yourself because there is a lot to learn and master. Be specific with what you are learning because each process can have its own equipment and learning curve – example: you do not have to cast your own work. Talk to other artist that work in what you want to learn – most artists are generous and are happy to share what they know.

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 think my age. I learned later in life and have problems seeing close up and I tend to over work my hands. I am always looking at new magnifiers to see what works better. I limit the time I work so I can work the next day.

Favorite resource/vendor or website:

agta.org

kibeads.com

www.earthstone.com

onlinejewelryacademy.com

mendocinoartcenter.org

I search used bookstores to find books on MesoAmerica temples images and culture

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Gregg Hessel

October 2018

Instagram: Hesselstudios

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised in a creatively driven family by an artist/craftsmen father who taught furniture making, and a collector mother who was a crafts historian and collector of 19th century handmade American crafts.  I was immersed in a world of craft and the art of making from an early age.  It was quite a childhood.

I have studied, over the years, many forms of art and worked professionally in several crafts from metal sculpture to jewelry. I found my true passion in coppersmithing and the forms that I could make with copper.  Because there are few coppersmiths today, I am mostly self-taught. The last time the art of copper as a medium was popular was in the early 1900’s during the Arts and Crafts period. This movement was especially strong here in the San Francisco Bay area and I am part of this continuum, keeping coppersmthing, as an art form alive in California.  I am presently working with the Dirk Van Erp Foundation and Museum in Alameda to bring knowledge of this craft back to the present. Forming copper with a hammer is something that every craftsman should experience at least once in their life.

What is your favorite tool and why?

I love hammers, hammers of all kinds. Small hammers large hammers it doesn’t seem to matter, hammers are the tool that I love the most.

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

Sterling silver. Standard millstock – meaning the ‘normal’ shapes we buy like round, square, half-round wire and various sheet thicknesses.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from nature primarily mixed with a little bit of the arts and crafts period.

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

I’ve been working in Copper for about 28 years now. What brought me to it was the fact that when I was in Rhode Island I found these beautiful hundred-year-old hand powered machines that I had no idea what they did, so I bought them, bunches of them, then brought them back to California where they taught me how to form metal and I found copper to be the metal that I enjoyed the most.

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

My advice to anybody starting out in metal would be to marry someone who’s willing to support you. this is a joke but not untrue. My real advice would be to accept the fact that hard work is going to be a part of your future.

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David Olson

September 2018

Tell us a little about yourself.

My day job is R&D in computer chips in Silicon Valley. I am a father of two terrific adult sons and I am engaged. In addition to jewelry, I have other hobbies including sailing, amateur science and machining.

What is your favorite tool and why?

A good sharp file feels great in the hand

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

Sterling silver. Standard mill stock – meaning the ‘normal’ shapes we buy like round, square, half-round wire and various sheet thicknesses.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

In my work, some organic shapes are entirely imagined and others come from things in nature like flowers or household objects like a princess phone.

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

I am a long time jewelry hobbyest. I started 30 years ago with a jewelry class in high school. The teacher encouraged me to sign up, but I said I wasn’t good with my hands; couldn’t cut a straight line. He said I didn’t have to be born with it – I’d learn it. Boy, was he right. I pass that message along whenever I have the chance.

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

Make lots of pieces, finish as best you can and start the next one. Skill will come with time and practice.

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?

Work holding while soldering. After all this time and practice it is the most error-prone.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

Tripps. They sell findings like heads and chains. Good prices, great selection.

 

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Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan

AUGUST 2018

Website: donivanandmaggiora.com
Instagram: joannmaggioradonivan

Tell us a little about yourself

I have been a working metalsmith, jeweler & educator for over 40 years.    During this time I have been a member of several metals organizations, including SNAG and The Metal Arts Guild.   In my early membership of MAG, I have served in many capacities at the board level, including president, secretary, Guildletter editor & hospitality. However, during the last 28 years I have been at the bench fulltime and just a general member who appreciates all the hard work that the board does.

  I am classically trained in silver, gold and platinum. My work is primarily cast with fabrication. My early mentor & MAG member, Cynthia Tomas Balloni Dach taught me casting & the rest is history.   My inspirations come from many sources including life experiences and nature. My primary work day consists of doing a lot of repairs for the trade as well as private clients. For the past 39 years on Wednesday evenings you will find me at The Adobe Art Center in Castro Valley teaching a casting class.

   Ten years ago when I started teaching a specialty class at The California College of the Arts, I began to focus on doing small art jewelry & sculptural pieces in order to use them not just for demonstrating but also for a creative release from the normal day to day demands.

   Years ago when I started out, one of my biggest challenges was that I was a woman in a predominately man’s world. It’s not a complaint but a simple fact.  In the trade shops where I honed my skills I worked with craftsmen that were at the bench for 25-45 years and were not about to share their secrets & tricks at the bench.  So, I had to observe and learn quickly. All these years I have been very fortunate to have good associations with many talented people who are willing to share their knowledge and skills. In the Metal Arts Guild I have been fortunate to associate with women like merry renk, Helene S. French, Helen Kirshner, Florence Resnikoff, Florence Dixon as well as some of the gentlemen in our organization, starting with Alan Revere, Carl Jennings, Peter Macchiarini, Dick Gompf, Jack da Silva, John Donivan and more.  I have been very lucky to have pursued my passion, met my husband through work and established many friendships.

What is your favorite tool and why?

A tacking hammer that belonged to my grandfather, Nonno Jimmy.  He was a sheet metal worker and this hammer is a tool that I use on a daily basis. My dad & I restored it when I was in college just starting out.  It has perfect balance and weight. The tool dates back to about 1907 and it’s the first tool that I usually pick up when I need to hammer.

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

In daily work—platinum, gold and sterling silver. These are the primary metals that I use for matching to the repairs. In my art jewelry- it’s gold, silver and ancient bronze. They lend themselves to the more affordable and creative side.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

During my daily work, the inspiration comes from the demand of the repair.  My job is to fix it but not to be obvious. The best compliment is “But where is the repair? I can’t find it.” For my art jewelry and small sculptures it comes from nature.

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

I have been doing this since 1971 when I started in college. I had Professor Arnie Randall who taught crafts class & was always open to having students explore various mediums. He wasn’t a jeweler but a fine teacher who kept a file cabinet full of information.  I have always loved jewelry and remember borrowing my mom’s pieces to play with when I was a young person.

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

First, get ready to grow, learn and create. Once you are bitten by the metals bug—you’re in it forever!!  Secondly, buy the best tools that you can afford and don’t overlook used ones. One of the best tools that you already own is on top of your shoulders and that comes free.

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?

The biggest challenge was that I was a woman and that I couldn’t make it as a commercial jeweler. Well, I am still a woman and still a working jeweler. I followed my passion, learned a lot but am still seeking out more! That’s how I overcame the negative comments-just keep on doing it!

Favorite resource/vendor or website

Love Metalsmith Coffee House, MAG online, ACC and Orchid/Ganoksin.

I frequently use Google and sometimes Youtube.

Vendors-Stuller, Otto Frei, Rio Grande and Kim’s Jewelry Supply. For gems I use Good Neighbor Gems, Interworld Pearls and Stuller.

 

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Monica Yichoy

JULY 2018

Website: myfiorella.com
Instagram: myfiorella

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in San Francisco, and raised in the East Bay and in Lima, Peru. With a mixed racial and cultural background as well having lived in various places west coast and east, I have a unique perspectives.  Education and math were emphases in my family. Fortunately, it was not a struggle as it was favorite subject. In fact, I majored on it at Cornell and then followed it up with a master degree in Engineering. Afterwards, I lived in a lot of places, moving where work took me.  I had several successful careers, all which ended under my own terms. However, after few years, none of them seemed satisfying. I have finally found my last career, though! I could not go back to working in a grey cubicle in front of a computer all day. I love making jewelry.  Although my path to becoming a jeweler has been roundabout, I am glad I have all that education and all my past careers. I still use some of the skills and tools I learned before and apply them to my business now.

What is your favorite tool and why?

Just one?!  I’ll have to choose the Knew Concepts saw because it is so easy to change the blades, my sawing is always accurate and it saws sideways!  

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

I have my own style of filigree work. So silver filigree wire is something I work with quite a bit. Now I also make mixed metal jewelry using sterling silver and 14 karat.  I also have a bunch of oval gemstones I inherited. So I use those quite a bit and I make the settings with my second favorite tool, the oval bezel block.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I love to travel and that’s a huge part of my inspiration.  I also look at flowers and butterflies, the scroll work and column designs in old buildings.  Then with those things in mind, I get into a semi meditative state and zone out and draw.

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

I was living in the Alexandria, Virginia, in the Washington, DC metro area. I was preparing for a couple foot surgeries and wearing casts on my feet for a few months. One day on my way to work, I picked up the local newspaper handed out for free to everyone on the Metro.  There was an article about a psychic who advised a successful businessman on his business deals. It was interesting to see such an article in a D.C. newspaper. One evening after work, I went to see her. She started sketching a pendant and told me I should be making jewelry.  I told a friend afterwards laughing, “Imagine me being artsy and crafty!” But she convinced me to give it a try. After all, I had a few months in casts. It would be something to pass the time. So, I started making beaded jewelry. I liked working with my hands, and I kept learning new jewelry skills really quickly and opened my jewelry business as a side job. Beading, wire wrapping and pearl knotting were fine, but not quite what I wanted.  Then I took a course on the basics of metalsmithing at a local art school and private lessons from a goldsmith. A few years later, I moved back to the Bay Area, quit my job, went to Revere Academy, and making jewelry became my full time job.

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

No fear! Mess-ups are opportunities to learn and to learn to fix them. And if it can’t be fixed, metal can be recycled, refined, and reused.

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?

This relates to the previous question. I was afraid of working with gold because of the cost.  I made the same piece in a more affordable metal first. That is when it finally sunk in that any “ruined” gold could be refined and reused.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

Otto Frei because they’re local and Rio Grande because if I have a question on anything, their technical staff is really helpful and nice.

 

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Michele C. Dodge

June 2018

San Francisco, CA
Website

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a geologist by training, and I started making and selling jewelry in 2006. My science background has aided me in understanding materials and in implementing my designs. I operate my small business out of Union City, where I create bespoke jewelry for clients and one-of-a-kind cloisonné enamel pieces. I also sell a wholesale jewelry line out of a permanent showroom at AmericasMart in Atlanta.

What is your favorite tool and why?

I’m going to give the obvious answer: my hands are my favorite tools. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to use any of my other tools. I’m also quite fond of my Green Lion saw and my assortment of files. With my saw and files, I feel like I can create just about any shape in metal that I can imagine.

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

I work primarily with silver, natural gemstones, and vitreous enamel, and I deeply love each of these materials. My favorite metal alloy is 18k yellow gold. I love the workability, vibrant color, and high polish of 18k yellow gold.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am inspired by nature and by mathematical principles. I love being outdoors, and I’m drawn to small wildflowers and weeds, which are often overlooked. However, when you do take the time to look, you see that they are miniature worlds of amazing shapes and vivid color.

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

I first learned to solder in 2007, and I’ve been slowly adding to my metals toolbox ever since. I’ve studied metallurgy, fabrication, and sculpture, and I’ve fallen totally in love with the process of shaping metal. It astounds me that something that seems so hard and unchanging can be manipulated in so many ways. Metal is just amazing – it can be solid and blocky, or it can be intricate and delicate. Metal is also fairly forgiving; you can correct most mistakes you make in metal.

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?

My biggest challenge as a metal artist is deciding how to use my time. I always have more ideas than time, so I need to choose which ideas to work on. I have to decide how much time to spend acquiring new skills or honing old skills. I have to decide which opportunities to jump on, and which to pass up. Time management continues to be my biggest struggle. I use tools like Trello to prioritize and organize projects, but it’s always sad making that decision not to put time into something that would be fun to learn.

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

My advice to someone just starting out is to strike a balance between collecting information and just experimenting. I recommend spending time reading about techniques, asking questions, and taking a workshop or two when you can. I also recommend spending some time struggling. In this age that so much information is at our fingertips, it’s tempting to just jump on the internet every time you have a question. Don’t. Struggle is growth. It’s good to jump in to experiment sometimes. You won’t know if or why something works unless you try.

Favorite resource/vendor or websiteMy favorite resource at the moment is back issues of Glass on Metal. The magazine’s focus is on the science behind enameling, and I’m absolutely obsessed. The Ganoksin website has also been a favorite resource of mine for many years; it’s truly a treasure trove of information.

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Maya Kini

May 2018

San Francisco, CA
Website

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Boston area, the fourth of five children by parents from vastly different worlds. My mother is Italian American from New England, and my father emigrated from India in 1957 to study medicine. He decided to stay in the US after meeting my mother. From a young age, I was given jewelry by Indian relatives—bangles, silver anklets with bells, and fine gold chains. Adornment begins at a young age in India and evolves into a complex language.

I studied sculpture and literature at Reed College and eventually wrote my thesis on the early attempts to disseminate Catholicism in what is now Mexico. I received my degree in Spanish literature in 2000. In 1996, I was introduced to jewelry making in Mexico, and that seed developed into further study, apprenticeships with other jewelers, and eventually an MFA in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

I recently returned to the foggy hills of San Francisco after nearly a decade in Sacramento and several years teaching Small Metals at the Sacramento City College and CSUS. Currently I operate my own small studio that focuses on commissions, multiples, and one-of-a-kind pieces. On June 2nd, a show of my jewelry opens at Shibumi Gallery in Berkeley alongside two-dimensional work by Bay Area painter Kate Nichols.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My saw, my file, my optivisor, all of these tools bring me to a quiet, focused working space where everything else recedes into the background. The sculptor Robert Smithson called this (quoting Paul Valery), “Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees”. On good studio days, that is what happens – this merging of self with object being made. And the other days are just part of the practice.

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

Gold. It’s quite possible I love it more after examining it for all its flawed history. I’ve always imagined when I work with gold that I’m starting in the middle…stringing together the refined bits of many previous objects to make a new thing. I feel that gold is the best material with which to explore plasticity and refinement – to understand how far a material can be pushed before it breaks.

I use steel quite a bit in my work because it performs so well – it is rigid at a thin gauge and contrasts well to gold both in color and meaning. It’s what so many of the useful objects that I love in this world are made of from: safety pins, spoons, drains, pots and pans, ships…

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From talking to people – usually the act of conversing allows me to see new connections.
From reading and writing…I have so much respect for the power of language to build a whole world with just letters!

From walking: with my dog or with my kids. The rhythm of walking lets thoughts unwrap themselves. And my kids notice things that I don’t. They are smaller than me and have better eyes.

How long have you been working in metals and what brought you into this field?
Since 1996 – I spent a year living in Mexico after my first year at Reed. I had intended to study painting but the jewelry teacher was much more lively and gradually I left painting behind. Jewelry was my first real foray into three dimensions and I loved the freedom of fabricating. I’m not from a family of builders so it was empowering to make something wearable with my hands. Because I was first introduced to jewelry in the Colonial heartland of Mexico, silver and gold’s complicated pasts (and presents) were apparent all around. I visited many of the mining towns like San Luis Potosi and Real de Catorce and studied the real and fictional tales of the quest for gold and silver in Latin America. I applaud the activism of the last decade by organizations like Ethical Metalsmiths and a whole generation of fine jewelers and think that it has positively impacted the knowledge base of the consumer.

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?

My biggest challenge is navigating studio/home balance. It’s a work-in-progress.

My studio is at home which means the work is always there. There are times when I need to close the door on a project for the project’s sake or the equilibrium of my home life. And then the work is always there: sometimes I go downstairs into the studio to let the dog outside and glance at what’s on my bench by the light of a single bulb and a beautiful thing happens, a little rearranging, an idea formed and left on the table for the next morning.

Being a mother has taught me efficiency – I get much more done in three hours than I did before children. But efficiency isn’t always the friend of creativity so I often end up in the studio on a weekend day so I can explore an idea in what seems like a luxurious amount of time.

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

A couple of things:
Take care of your body now – especially your neck and hands! Walk, stretch, create a studio space where you have to get up and move around.

Look at as much other work as possible – sculpture, design, ceramics, weaving, mass production, printmaking – our little field becomes richer through cross-pollination. Collaborate!

Favorite resource/vendor or website

I purchased a rosebud tip and extender for my Meco Midget torch last year and it has changed my casting game… this place in Nevada city machines them out of brass.
https://www.tinmantech.com/

I have used Hoover and Strong as a supplier for the last decade…I love their refining and casting calculators.

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Ji Hwang

April 2018

Website: jihwangjewelry.com
Instagram:  jihwangjewelry

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 

Hoover & Strong 

Hauser & Miller 

Myron Toback Inc. 

Ross Metals 

Shapeways 

MJSA 

Matrix 

SNAG 

AJF 

Trust the Process by Shaun McNiff

Jewelry: Concepts and Technology by Oppi Untracht

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Lilla Cory Warren

March 2018
California
Website

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