September 2022

Monica Yichoy

Board Member

Hospitality May 2017 – January 2019;
Website January 2019- Present

Website: myfiorella.com
Instagram: myfiorella

  • Monica Yichoy
  • Monica Yichoy
  • Monica Yichoy
  •  

1. 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 perspective.  Education and math were emphases in my family. Fortunately, it was not a struggle as it was favorite subject.  I even focused on math and engineering in college.  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 at each, 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.

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

At this moment, my favorite tools are a good pair of tweezers and the Shofu silicone polishing wheels.

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

I have my own style of filigree work. So sterling and fine silver filigree wire is something I work with quite a bit. I also make mixed metal jewelry using sterling silver and 14 karat.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I love to travel and that’s a huge part of my inspiration.  Really, any little thing I see can be inspiring. I have a line of jewelry inspired by the bowls in my kitchen cupboards.  I get into a semi-meditative state and zone out and draw.  Living close to wine country helps, too!

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

Since 2010. I was living in the Alexandria, Virginia, in the Washington, DC metro area. One day on my way to work pre-jewelry making, 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. So just for fun, 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 since I was preparing for a couple foot surgeries would have limited mobility for a few months and would need something to pass the time. So, I started making beaded jewelry.  Six months later I started wire wrapping, and a year after that, I took a course on the basics of metalsmithing at The Art League, a local art school in Alexandria. I liked working with my hands, and I kept learning new jewelry skills really quickly and opened my jewelry business as a side job. A few years later, I moved back to the Bay Area, quit my job, went to Revere Academy, and making jewelry full time.

6. 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.  If it can’t be fixed, metal can be recycled, refined, and reused.  Also, torch control. Very important when you make filigree.

7. 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?

As a maker, my strength in in creating.  So my biggest challenge is marketing. But if I had to choose a challenge in making itself… Keeping filigree wires in place and not pop out before I get a chance to solder them in. But the key to that is to that is to not put it too many at once. So I have to remind myself to stop and solder along the way before continuing.

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

Otto Frei because they’re local and Rio Grande.

August 2022

Francesca MacKie

Board Member
Public Relations May 2020 – January 2022, Membership January 2022 – Present

Website: francescamackie.com
Instagram: fmackiejewelry

  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie
  • Francesca MacKie

 

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a jewelry designer, instructor, and life-long art student. My work is motivated by a love of material exploration and is largely inspired by architectural landscapes. I grew up in San Francisco, lived in New York and Hawaii, and earned my MFA in Sculpture in 2012 from Academy of Art University. I teach in the Jewelry and Metal Arts Department at AAU and work with students to encourage them to enter exhibitions and competitions around the world. I joined the board of the Metal Arts Guild about 2 years ago and have been enjoying meeting a larger community of Bay Area artists.

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

In my jewelry studio I use the coping saw and flex shaft quite a bit, and I like Scotch-Brite for cleanup. In the metal shop I am still in awe of the plasma cutter and horizontal band saw.

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

I am a mixed media artist, and I enjoy experimenting with different materials, but metal work is what drew me to jewelry design. I work mostly with sterling silver, copper and bronze and incorporate stones, plastic, bone, rubber, enamel, and leather. What I appreciate about mixed media jewelry are the endless possibilities and the mystery you can create by making a material look like something completely new.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I love to travel, and I am inspired by the landscapes I see. I’m curious about the different ways that societies of people have built themselves into their natural surroundings. I’m especially curious about the behavior of natural elements as they reclaim urban space, like moss growing on stone walls, ivy taking over a wooden fence or tree roots busting through a concrete sidewalk.

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

When I was a child, I made sculptures from aluminum foil, so I think I have been curious about the manipulation of metal for my whole life. I learned weaving and wire wrapping techniques in elementary school, and in high school learned how to weld steel and how to solder copper to make stained glass pieces. I took jewelry making classes in and after college and assembled pieces for a designer in New York City. I put up a website in 2008 and have been selling my work independently while I attended grad school and become a jewelry instructor at Academy of Art University, De Anza and Mission College. In 2019 I gave a lecture and taught a few workshops at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Ningbo, China, and I hope to find more international opportunities related to metal work and jewelry design in the future.

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

I encourage my students to safely push the limits of their materials and look for new combinations of techniques. Material exploration can often lead to something new and exciting that hasn’t been seen before. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You learn the properties of a material a lot more thoroughly through trial and error, figuring out what went wrong and why.

I also recommend joining a community like the Metal Arts Guild. We all need support, advice and feedback. Having other professional opinions about your work can help when you are stuck or frustrated. As a professional artist, you’re not just a designer and a maker; you also become a photographer, a marketer, a salesperson, and an accountant. It’s hard to have all those skill sets, so look for support from people who are experts in areas where you’re not.

7. 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?

Organization can be difficult with an overaccumulation of tools and materials. Taking a step back helps; and designating time to clean up after myself at the end of the day makes the next day easier to start. I find To-Do lists helpful to stay on top of projects as well as setting goals and deadlines for each step.

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

RJ Leahy and Otto Frei have a lot to offer and TAP Plastics has become a favorite mixed media resource. I have been sourcing precious metals and jewelry tools online from Rio Grande for the last 10 years, and they have been very consistent. My stones and beads come from all over the world, and a lot of my gems come from Corey’s Custom Creations, a stone collector and friend of the Jewelry and Metal Arts Department at Academy of Art University.

July 2022

Hilary Finck

Board Member
President April 2021 – Present

Website: hilaryfinck.com
Instagram: hilaryfinckjewelry

  • Hilary Finck
  • Hilary Finck
  • Hilary Finck
  • Hilary Finck
  • Hilary Finck

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a midwestern transplant, living in San Francisco since 2000. I’m a jewelry designer, a mom, an outdoor enthusiast, a gardener, a friend to many, a sister, a daughter, and an aunt. I spend most of my time making jewelry and running my business. It’s my true calling and my passion. I love living in the Bay Area and in California where it’s so easy to find natural beauty, adventure, and inspiration.

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

How can I choose just one?! It’s a toss up between my planishing hammer which touches just about every piece of jewelry that leaves my studio, and my center punch, which also touches just about every piece of jewelry I make. Peter Macchiarini gave it to me while I was apprenticing with him. It’s a gorgeous hunk of metal.

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

Gold, silver, and enamel. Well, we all know why we like to use gold. It’s a fabulous metal to work with. I’ll always love working in silver because it is literally less precious than gold and there is a certain freedom I feel when using it — I feel less inhibited and more experimental. And then there are my transparent enamels which are the basis for my plique-a-jour designs. I love my transparent enamels.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Architecture, plants, stones/gemstones, other fine artists, fashion design, antiquities.

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

Long story short, in the late 1990s I was going to college to become a veterinarian and took a jewelry design/metalsmithing class for fun. After that class I switched majors and never took another pre-vet course again!

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

Be consistent in your practice. Get into the studio and make something as often as you can. Each piece might not be your best work, but you’ll streamline your methods and techniques and over time you’ll find your style and niche. You’ll build a body of work for yourself and others to look back on. It’s important to see an artist’s progression.

7. 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?

Being a full time jewelry designer and being in charge of every single aspect of running a business is the biggest challenge, but it’s an awesome learning experience. Luckily I’ve gotten some great advice from my business coach and from other jewelry consultants along the way, and now as my business grows I’m starting to contract out certain tasks that don’t involve actually making the jewelry so that I have more time to make the jewelry.

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

Instagram. It’s a love/hate relationship but without it my business wouldn’t be where it is today.

 

June 2022

Katy DeWeese

Board Member
Public Relations October 2017-May 2020,  Secretary May 2020-Present

Website: katydeweese.com
Instagram: katydeweese

  • Katy DeWeese
  • Katy DeWeese
  • Katy DeWeese
  • Katy DeWeese

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in the Bay Area, studied Design and Spanish at UC Davis.  Worked as a fashion designer but realized I missed working with kids, which I had done throughout my life, so I went back to get my teaching credential at Dominican University.  Finally, after teaching Spanish for a year, I got my dream job at a local high school teaching Visual Art. However, my husband was offered a great opportunity and we moved to the south bay.  We started trying for kids and I took time off from teaching and started taking jewelry classes at Davide Bigazzi Studio in Menlo Park. I had taken a few jewelry classes before, but he introduced me to the art of chasing & repoussé to create sculptural one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art.  Now, eight years (and two kids) later, I’m in San Francisco with my own business and studio of my own.

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

My favorite tool is my Nechamkin chasing hammer, it is just beautifully and delicately crafted of wood and easy to hold all day without discomfort.

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

I use silver and gold. I love using scraps and turning them into brand new metal.  The process of reuse is amazing.  I just love watching the metal go from flat to sculpted using just a hammer and chasing tool and simply repetitive motions.  It’s very calming and meditative.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I have always loved nature, water, textures and the intricate design of flora. I love making things that reflect natural forms, bugs and critters. I’m like a crow and always find shiny things and have been picking up interesting rocks, shells and sticks for as long as I can remember.

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

I’ve only been making jewelry seriously since 2014 when I took a two-day chasing & repoussé cuff bracelet workshop.  Since then, I got incredibly excited to learn all sorts of techniques and hone my skills.  I have always loved rocks and gems, jewelry and personal adornment, so it really felt like I found my niche and something I can see myself doing for years to come.

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

Try as many different techniques as you can until you find something that really gets you excited.  It wasn’t until I found chasing & repoussé that I really started thinking of creating my own business around making jewelry and designing pieces of my own.  I’ve always had hobbies and have loved learning, but it became easy to see a path forward once I found the technique I really loved.

7. 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 making the time to just get to the studio and MAKING.  There are so many other things going on for me as a mother, and I always have some chores to do around the house or some school-related thing, but if I can get out of the house, and into the studio, I can forget about the chores and focus on creating.  Once I’m handling the metal I actually feel like I’m playing, letting it guide me toward its final shape, it’s such a great feeling to create something that will last for ages.  I’m trying to get into a routine, once I have that figured out, I think it will be a breeze. Ask me again next year 🙂

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

My favorite vendor is Columbia Gem House https://columbiagemhouse.com/  They source all their stones as ethically as possible and are transparent about their process. I love supporting their growth and knowing where my materials come from.

 

 

May 2022

Jennifer Cross Gans

Jennifer Cross Gans wearing the squash blossom necklace that started her journey as a jewelry collector.

Our Member of the Month for May is Jennifer Cross Gans. Jennifer was a long-time MAG member and all around jewelry enthusiast. She passed away earlier this year. The Metal Arts Guild commemorates Jennifer here with a piece of her writing, and links to writings by others in the jewelry community. 

LIFE BEGINS WITH A SQUASH  BLOSSOM NECKLACE

by Jennifer Cross Gans

It was a summer afternoon in 1973, and my son, then two and a half, was a newcomer in San Francisco, happily being pushed in a stroller in a narrow Grant Avenue street.  I chance to look into a shoe store and found some examples of an auction of Native American jewelry.  What caught my eye was a squash blossom necklace, weighing well over 8 oz, and decorated with massive blocks of dark red coral.  It cost $250, which in those days was a fair chunk of change. 

I dithered, but I was hooked.  I loved the prospect of wearing such a marvelous, eye-catching piece.  But I feared  the prospect of spending so much money from the household accounts:  what would my husband think?  Suddenly I recalled my own bank account, and thought, what the hell, I will buy it anyway.  So I did.

My husband admired the necklace, and said not a word.  I wore it a few times, then put it away.  But I became a collector from then onwards.  

So began a long pilgrimage in search of ethnic jewelry of all kinds.  But I later moved on to modern art jewelry, of a kind AJF loves so well, particularly the work of my friends who spend their lives working at it.

I should mention that I wore the necklace at a jewelry show, and was offered a good deal more money if I would care to sell it.  Sorry!  I wasn’t interested.

PS The earrings?  Definitely modern jewelry, and I made them, of course.

 

Memorium by Aimee Golant:

https://aimeegolant.com/2022/03/28/in-memorandum-jennifer-cross-gans/

Commemoration in Art Jewelry Forum:

https://artjewelryforum.org/articles/obituary_jennifer-cross-gans_ajf-member-collector-and-maker_natl-us_4-5-2022/

 

 

April 2022

L M deLeon

Board Member, May 2021 – present

Website: lmdeleon.com
Instagram: lghtly_hmmrd

  • Laura deLeon
  • Laura deLeon
  • Laura deLeon
  • Laura deLeon
  • Laura deLeon

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Laura (she/they pronouns) – I sort of clam up when asked to speak of myself, but ask me about a process or project and I’ll enthusiastically yammer on forever.

Grew up in Santa Cruz, spent a lot of time hanging out around the ocean, but not much in it (too cold & a bit rough).  I’m fond of tidepools.  And fog, particularly the kind that lingers between trees. But also having spent some time in SoCal, I do love to bask in the warmth of the sun in majestic desertscapes.

Been on a hot chocolate making kick, using chocolate bars melted in some boiling hot water, a hint of vanilla, a blob of maple syrup and a generous splash of coconut milk.  Cooking and baking is pleasurable for me.

Having always been someone who greatly enjoys the pace of making something by hand, I fell in love with hammering metals during one fateful semester in 1998 when I signed up for the Jewelry/Small Scale Metalsmithing class with Dawn Nakanishi at Cabrillo College.  I spent the next four years taking every class Dawn offered, at least once.

I ‘officially’ established a small  jewelry/metalsmithing home studio in 2008 – to which I dedicate much of my time.

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

I had taken some pottery classes in high school and enjoyed how malleable clay can be. So, when I learned the science behind and experienced direct results of what annealing does to metal and the similarities between clay, I fell in love with the torch.  Being able to form and shape metal is so exciting to me!

Investing in a Smith torch and a tank of acetylene was a huge step towards building my studio.   With the set chasing & repoussé tools I made in Dawn’s classes, I gravitated towards the processe and made many chased and repoussé pieces, pushing metal in new directions.

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

The material I’m focused on will shift depending on current projects and ideas. I am a magpie for that which glitters, makes bold and interesting shapes and forms or has bright color.

In the mid-aughts I was using only sterling silver and copper with occasionally brass mixed in.  I was inspired by the bits of twig or seed pods I would collect from walking around the neighborhood.

My eye caught a gleaming pile of tempered glass along one of the busier roads while walking to work, likely leftovers from a recent collision.  They so resembled precious stones that I was inspired to mount them as such in the series “Diamonds of Los Angeles” (DofLA)

Combining metals with fiber was a natural path of exploration for me, as crafting in fibers was a skill I learned early in life from the matriarchs of my family. Sewing doll clothes, dollhouse accessories initially then later my own clothing, and picking up crochet skills.

Currently, I’ve been heavily focused on a series that uses reclaimed telecommunication wire, which is a very thin gauge plastic coated copper wire. The plastic comes in a variety of bright colors which is so fun.  It’s been an interesting challenge to learn how to use this material in a way that preserves the integrity of the plastic.  Weaving is not possible as I’m unable to anneal the copper without melting the plastic coating.  But I found that using heavier gauge wire to build forms and an internal structure became the base around which to wrap the telecommunication wire. I typically combine with sterling silver elements and sometimes beads from a collection that I ‘borrowed’ from my mother while I was still in high school.  (Now anytime I show her the work – she’s like “Hey, I recognize those beads”)

With materials, my main goal is to limit the amount of additional new materials I purchase, or reclaimed materials I collect including gifted materials (with a few exceptions). I have challenged myself to use up what I have on hand before accepting as I’m hoping to be more intentional with my consumption of resources overall.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My sources of inspiration are wide and varied.

Color and ways to bring color into my projects without adding extra processes that might require purchase of new equipment or material supplies is a never ending source of ingenuity.

I’m compelled to design pieces that don’t cause sensory overload. Or I’ll design in specific elements that feel nice to the touch or are satisfying to fidget with.

Books. I retained several of my favorites from childhood, the Oz tales, The Rainbow Man, Let’s Grow a Garden, The Tigerskin Rug and a handful of others with delightful and entertaining artwork and tales.  Illustrated textbooks, such as a turn of the century field guide to flowers, Gray’s Anatomy (there are several editions, of which I have two), Atlas of Human Histology, basically anything with interesting and educational visuals for reference.

My bemusement of human industry, especially with how compulsory life feels to me right now.  In our society there’s such a thing as a huge pile of telecommunication wire being left in a highway median – it totally confuses me how this valuable resource could be tossed aside and I am compelled to scoop up these treasures and help them find new life.

The natural world and my awe of the slower pace of the seasons, tides, nature’s cyclical deconstruction in which nothing is wasted which supplies so many interesting forms and shapes to emulate. 

While I often struggle to conceptualize the reasons for doing what I do, I seek to be bolder in my self expression, to be an eccentric loud human without saying a word. To highlight all that I observe in myself, in others and what surrounds us, to celebrate what is normally cast off or a remnant of a whole.  Adornment, with a focus on metals, has been such a great medium in which to explore all of this.

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

I haven’t stopped working with metals since that moment I was first introduced in 1998. But, unfortunately, because I wanted income stability and was worried that a career path in the arts wouldn’t provide that, I did not pursue a path in jewelry and metalsmithing directly (I was young and the internet as we know it today with overwhelming resources was still in its fledgling stages). So instead I’ve had several other careers – Escrow work, Stained glass, and the latest shift into 3D printer manufacturing and digital fabrication (which I moved into to learn how to 3D model projects for jewelry and found that I didn’t enjoy the design process for these ends).  However, my experience in these other fields has informed what I bring back to the bench and has deepened my love for the hand building process.

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

It was so worth investing in that starter kit as a jewelry student. A bench pin with a c-clamp, needle files and a flat bastard file, jeweler’s saw, a chasing hammer and bench anvil, all of which could fit into a single red bin toolbox. There was so much I could do and explore with just these basic tools, the bulk of which are still in regular use in my studio to this day.  It’s easy to lean into our inner tool junkie and try to convince ourselves we need all these really fancy (and often expensive) tools to create beautiful pieces.  But in reality, we only need a handful of key tools, some metal and a little bit of resourcefulness and imagination.

7. 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?

Because I didn’t pursue a degree or career in metals, I’ve often felt somewhat out of place within the jewelry and metalsmithing world.  Thus I allowed my engagement to lapse within the community for years at a time.  At some point, I reframed how I think of myself, more as an artist who creates adornment, rather than a Metalsmith or Jeweler.  

However, since the pandemic, I’ve come to realize the importance of community, especially with fellow metal artists, and discovering this has been greatly helping to curb the ‘imposter syndrome’ that still comes up for me, especially as someone who has taken a rather circuitous route towards a metal arts practice.

It’s been so wonderful to return to the world of metal arts to feel support and rapport with so many artists, communing over our love of metal and the various aspects of building something amazing with our hands.

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

There’s been several helpful resources over the years.

SNAG used to print their monthly newsletters.  I think I have every single one saved in my studio paper drawer from my earlier membership because they were chock full of tips and articles with interesting projects.  I set up an electro-acid etch bath based on an article I read once.  While I miss the physical copy of these articles, I believe they’re still accessible to members via the site.

Ganoksin still has a bunch of articles and searchable forum posts – I end up there a lot if I have questions around a process that I might need a quick answer to.

More recently, I really enjoy the Metalsmith Society on Instagram run by Corkie Bolton, it’s filled with great tips submitted by various artists.

As for vendors, I’m huge with supporting local and/or small vendors and suppliers.  But by far my favorite, is highway 880, as it has yielded many interesting materials for me to use in pieces.

 

March 2022

Cynthia Clearwater

Board Member
Newsletter editor: 2006-2010, Treasurer 2013 – Present

Instagram: Cynthia Clearwater

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been a member of MAG since I retired in 2005 and have served on the Board as the newsletter editor and now as treasurer. I started making jewelry as a hobby around 1995, while working as Assistant Dean in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. I was also privileged to work as the Deputy Director of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UCB, the position from which I retired. It was such a wonderful experience to be able to peruse the museum’s collections of Egyptian, Greek, Peruvian, California Native peoples, and other world-wide cultures in a hands-on way. Although my design aesthetic is modern and minimalist, I admire the skills of ancient artists in a multitude of mediums. 

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

What goldsmith isn’t tool obsessed? Because I do a lot of clean straight lines, I really use my 90/45 angle jig and machinists’ square a lot to make sure my lines are squared off and angles are true.

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

I started my jewelry making hobby using sterling silver and cabochon stones; where most of us get started. If projects don’t turn out quite right, you have not wasted a lot of money. After taking several classes at Revere Academy to hone certain technical skills like stone setting, I took a deep breath and ordered some 14K yellow gold. Ha. I should have ordered a pound of it because at the time it was selling for something like $250 an ounce and I thought that was expensive! But once bitten by the gold bug, I have mostly made my work from gold ever since. I really hate working with 14K white gold but it does do for diamond settings and lighter gemstones. I love 18K yellow gold. Such a lush glow to it and so buttery to work with. In my last couple of projects, I am using more unusual gems like a rough-cut crystal of sapphire, a salt and pepper diamond, and a beautiful clear, hexagonal crystal of aquamarine is the latest project on my bench.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I always, always start with the gemstone. Its size, shape, color, optical characteristics, and hardness dictate what I can do with it. Does it need accent gems in similar or contrasting colors? Is it interesting enough to stand alone? Prong or bezel setting? Gold, silver, patina, texture, high or matt polish? Ring, brooch, necklace, bracelet? Finally, I get real with myself about whether I have the technical skills to fabricate my preliminary design for this gemstone? If not, how can that design be modified so I still stretch myself but also am happy with the result. 

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

I now have over 25 years of experience in metals and I still learn something new with each project – mostly because I don’t plan every step out before starting fabrication and find myself in a pickle midway through that I have to work my way out of. I have an undergraduate fine arts degree from San Francisco State with an emphasis in ceramics. I used ceramics as a sculptural medium and had a ceramics studio when I was still single. Once I got married and had children to raise, the ceramics equipment just took up too much space in our small El Cerrito house. When the kids had grown enough not to need my constant attention, I wanted to get back to being creative and it struck me that working in small scale jewelry would not take up much space and could also be sculptural. It was challenging to move from ceramics, where the material is soft and pliable until it is fired, to metals, where the material is hard and unbending until softened somewhat in the flame.

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

On the plus side of metal working, you can unsolder a seam! You can melt down your mistakes and reuse the metal. You will find tiny gemstones you drop on the floor. On the frustrating side of metalworking, you will crack a gem or two by applying too much pressure when setting (there is a horrible soft crunching sound when this happens). You will do everything right and the solder just won’t flow – you keep adding heat until you melt a hole in your piece. You learn through your mistakes and you will make plenty of them. Most can be remedied and starting over may be the best remedy.

7. 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 am lucky to be retired and I do not need to make a living through my metal working. I get to play at my bench without regard to current trends in jewelry, demanding custom clients, standing for hours at craft fairs, and having to think about marketing. I did sell my silver work initially online and in a few local galleries. But I didn’t like the business end of metal working which can easily consume 50% of your time.  So, I gave up my small business to just concentrate on making. It brings me great joy to make something with my own hands. It does not bring me any joy to make a small business successful. I have not overcome my biggest challenge but I really don’t care! I’m a happy hobbyist. Shout out to all the MAG members who share my passionate hobby.

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

I have really benefitted from classes at Revere Academy and Silvera Jewelry School. Learning specific techniques from well-qualified instructors is invaluable. Of course, being a member of MAG gives you a chance to meet other people who share your passion for gemstones and metal working. I have also learned so much from YouTube. There are many instructional videos on any jewelry making subject through that resource.

February 2022

Michaela Farkasovska

Board Member, December 2016 – December 2021

Website: farkasovskadesigns.com
Instagram: Michaela Farkasovska Designs

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a goldsmith and jewelry designer and I make custom-made fine jewelry and collections at my studio in San Jose, California. 

I was born and raised in Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia, a small town located between the Tatra Mountain Ranges.  To me, Liptovsky Mikulas remains one of the most beautiful places in the world with its rolling fields, gorgeous mountain peaks, and striking colors. A strong connection and love for nature played an important role in my childhood. 

I competed on the national alpine ski team, I love skiing and all sports whenever I am not making jewelry.

I have also always had an appreciation for art and after working in the corporate world for several years, I did some soul searching and combined with changes in my personal life led me to the world of jewelry.

2. What is your favorite tool and why?

There are many. The most sentimental tools are a set of hand tools I got from my grandfather, which I cherish and use “sparingly” today. My grandfather was an amazing craftsman all his life and some of his tools go back to the early 1960s. I also love Flex shaft and torch because they are essential in making jewelry along with the Barret needle file for refining narrow, hard to reach areas. 

Since I do like sketching and rendering from my childhood, a good drafting Pencil is essential when sketching and helps to bring my design ideas to life 😊. I also like the feel of the pencil when sketching a design and the sound of hammer on the setting punch.

Also, I am learning to appreciate 3Design software in my Custom work for its ability to show the Customer a realistic design from various angles.

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

For my own Collections, I work most with Gold and Silver. Although I appreciate working with all the precious metals, I do love the buttery feel of the gold, the fact you can fuse and solder with other metals along with its glorious color. 

4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

In my Custom work, I draw inspiration from interactions with my customer’s style, personality, vision, lifestyle and sentimental relationships. In my Collections, I draw inspiration from the sensation and emotions from life moments: The feeling of the wind blowing in your face on the top of the mountain, grandmother’s hug; etc. My intention for a design always comes from heart. I like to think of it as romantic way of capturing life’s memories and creating fine jewelry that has an element of a modern-day love story.    

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

Since I can remember, I have admired art and was intrigued by the Artist’s motives for creating the piece. I attended evening art classes in high school because I wanted to explore my creative side and expressing myself through paintings. I discovered that while painting, I can forget the outside world and spend hours submerged in the colors and designs. 

I have been making jewelry since 2015. My first jewelry introduction classes were in Denver school of Metal arts.  And in 2016, I graduated from the Revere Academy Jewelry Technician Program in San Francisco. In addition, I have pursued a 3D-Design certification which allows me to combine the latest jewelry design technology with traditional goldsmith techniques.

I really like that fine jewelry can be passed down to the next generation and become a family heirloom piece. I find it incredibly special to be a part of this process.

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

I am still learning myself as well. There is always something new to discover almost every day. As in every craft, it takes many hours and repetitions spent on the bench to determine what is possible, meanwhile you are also trying to discover your own artist’s identity and personal style.  You learn from the actual process of making jewelry. You also learn from experienced mentors and sharing ideas and stories with others in the field along with taking jewelry and metalsmithing classes. There is so much to learn, so it is good to keep an open mind and to ask for feedback and help. 

If you find in your heart that you love creating, making, and working with metals, remember and keep this feeling and joy it gives you.  As the saying goes, if you follow your life’s passion you will never work a day in your life. 

7. 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 am still learning this, but it takes time to find your style/voice in your work. And it is ok because good things do take time as the craft and accompanying skills develop with time. I am learning to accept this as well and be patient with the process and trusting my inner voice. 

How to overcome the uncertainty and be confident in your direction? There is a quote that helped me immeasurably. The quote is from the book called: The Horse, They Boy, The Fox and The Mole by Charlie Mackesy. The boy and a horse are in the woods and the boy says to the horse: “I can’t see a way through”. And the Horse says: “Can you see your next step?” “Yes”, says the boy. Then the horse says: “Then just take that”. 😊 

8. Favorite resource/vendor or website

Alan Revere books, Professional Jewelry Making; 101 Bench Tips for Jewelers among many; Ganoksin website; American Jewelry Design Council website. MAG has a fabulous, stocked Metals/Jewelry Library you can borrow from. And your jewelry community has vast knowledge among each other, Don’t be afraid to ask; learn and share your knowledge with others too. 

https://www.metalartsguildsf.org/library/ 

http://www.ganoksin.com/

https://www.ajdc.org/ajdc-projects/

 

January 2022

Margaret de Patta

Metal Arts Guild Founding Member, First MAG Board President

  • Margaret de Patta
  • Margaret de Patta
  • Margaret de Patta
  • Margaret de Patta
  • Margaret de Patta
  • Margaret de Patta

Margaret de Patta served as the Metal Arts Guild of San Francisco as its first president in 1951, then again in 1955.

A founding member of the Metal Arts Guild  “De Patta, who studied under constructivist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, is considered by many as one of the icons of modernist jewelers; she was known for her use of light and line, and concern for structure in her designs.”

“Margaret De Patta, created a new visual language in the development of her jewelry designs though the interpretation of constructivist theory.”

Jennifer Shaifer writes in her thesis, “During the early 1940s, Margaret De Patta was one of the metalsmiths who benefited from her close connection with modernists Moholy-Nagy, György Kepes, Milton Halberstadt, and Eugene Bielawski after she took courses at Mills College and the School of Design in Chicago. This allowed De Patta to think beyond what had been jewelry’s traditional limitations.”

De Patta’s mature work “embodied modernist principles of constructivism, removed references to the past, used restraint in use of materials, and incorporated light, movement, and linear and abstract forms. De Patta began to collaborate with expert lapidary and metalsmith Francis Sperisen (also a founding MAG member) in designing gem cuts to achieve the optimal light effects she wanted in her designs.135 Sperisen’s most significant contribution to the evolution of De Patta’s design vision and the field of jewelry was the new development of unique stone cuts that captured various optical effects – which De Patta dubbed the “opti-cut.”138 No other lapidary or jeweler had ever developed these particular cuts before.”

More about Margaret de Patta:

MAGSF In Memoriam

American Craft Council

Art Jewelry Forum

Wikipedia

Photos: 

  1. Margaret de Patta
  2. Baroque pearl cuff bracelet and ring. https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/14023/lot/6/
  3. Ring designed 1938. https://www.lofty.com/products/margaret-de-patta-ring-1-1mn35x
  4. Pin, 1956. https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/space-light-structure-the-jewellery-of-margaret-de-patta
  5. Pendant in white gold and crystal, with five inlaid diamonds, 1960. https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/space-light-structure-the-jewellery-of-margaret-de-patta
  6. Pin in sterling silver, beach stones and pebbles, 1964. https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/space-light-structure-the-jewellery-of-margaret-de-patta