November 2019

emiko oye

Website: emikooreware.com
Instagram: emikooreware

  • emiko oye
  • emiko oye
  • emiko oye
  • emiko oye
  • emiko oye
  • emiko oye

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a jewelry artist that creates colorful, bold jewelry from LEGO® – both fashion ready-to-wear as well as larger, one-of-a-kind conceptual work. I’m a small business owner of two businesses, emiko-o reware (jewelry wholesale/retail) since 1998 and emikooyoga since 2017. 

When I’m not in the jewelry studio, I’m teaching Restorative Yoga and the MELT Method® at yoga studios around the Bay Area. Jewelry making is hard on the body and I find that this balance of both art and mindful movement keeps me sane and my body healthy and out of pain.

I’m obsessed with corgis, although we don’t own one….yet.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My favorite tools are Scotch Tape and Canned Air. Scotch Tape has been my go-to handy tool since I was a crafty kid – I would always have it on my Christmas Wish List. A quick tip for using it at the bench is for drilling into small metal bits so they don’t spin out from under you: roll up a section of tape, sticky side up, press it down to your bench pin or whatever surface you drill over, then stick your little metal part on top. Great for discs, plus it holds the metal shavings if you’re recycling precious metals. 

Canned Air is very handy when you’re photographing your work to clean the dust off your work and the table surface you’re shooting on – nothing worse than having to Photoshop out dust! Also handy for blowing out plastic shavings from drilling, cutting.

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

LEGO® is my main media and I’m still fascinated with it as there are always new parts and colors coming out to work with, but most importantly, the global connection it gives me to the public – it really is a language that transcends cultures, genders, age like no other media I’ve worked with. Everyone seems to have a story that involves LEGO® and it’s a conversation starter wherever I go. Plus, the LEGO® company is a great one to work with, as I’ve collaborated with them on projects and they are passionate about inspiring the next generation of makers and connecting with community.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Getting out of the house and going to museums – being inspired by other artists – whether it be a colorway in a painting, a fashion exhibition, use of materials. Anything David Bowie. Music – the feeling of a song, song titles, genres – music is always playing in my studio and lately I’ve been “infusing” my artwork with specific songs and playlists.

Currently, my new body of work and solo show 2 Be Seen, which opened in October at Ombré Gallery in Ohio and will show at NYC Jewelry Week November 20-24th, is inspired by the practices of Nonviolent Communication and Mindfulness. How we can start to heal the differences that have created our divisive culture by learning to listen with empathy and begin to understand what people’s needs are, beneath the anger/frustration/pain.

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

Since high school and then I formally studied Metalsmithing and Fashion Design at Syracuse University and moved out to SF after graduating in 1997. Lucky for me, the Bay Area has an established metals/jewelry community and I found my peers through MAG events – they are my closest friends to this day! It wasn’t my initial intent to have a career in a craft field, but I soon discovered that I preferred to be my own boss and enhance my career by working with other established artists and jewelry businesses while I was developing my own voice as an artist.

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

Make what you love and what speaks to you, regardless of what’s trending or what other people say. However, that being said, being open to constructive criticism is the best way to grow and evolve; get feedback, find people you trust to be open with you. Get involved with your community; this field is not that large and bottom line it’s about who you know. I am grateful for the years I was on the MAG Board of Directors, first as the Membership Director and then an Co-President and President. It truly can open doors for you and instill a self-confidence if your heart is in the right place.

Be ready and willing to promote yourself and your work – put yourself out there with great images, enter shows and exhibitions, have an online presence. Most importantly, be a good person who’s reliable and professional.

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 one that I’ve had forever and in the last couple of years finally begun to change: Finding a healthy balance between work and Rest and Life. Part of it is changing my perspective about it, that my work as an artist is not just a career, but is part of my life and who I am. My immersion into Restorative Yoga (plus wisdom with age) has allowed me to feel from the inside out how critical slowing down and making rest a priority is the best choice, especially if I want to continue to flourish as an artist and a human being. 

Favorite resource/vendor or website

MAG really is chock full of resources that you won’t find in many other metals guilds: aside from networking and connecting with community, we have a fully stocked Metals/Jewelry Library you can borrow from, professional jewelry display cases for rent, exhibition opportunities, the MAG Grant ($$$), access to professionals via events and workshops, leadership opportunities by being a MAG Board Member or volunteer.

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October 2019

Anna Danilova

Website: annamonetjewelry.com
Instagram: annamonetjewelry

  • Anna Danilova
  • Anna Danilova
  • Anna Danilova
  • Anna Danilova
  • Anna Danilova

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Anna and I am the founder and designer behind Anna Monet Jewelry. Born and raised in Moscow, I moved to San Francisco at the age of 21. I’ve been creating jewelry from found objects since I was 13, and I learned metal work in San Francisco. My background is in fashion and I have years of styling and content production experience. Even though jewelry takes the majority of my time now, I am still very passionate about helping small business owners with art direction and content creation.

In my work I am interested in exploring our connection with nature and the environment and how ancestral skills, natural materials and modern aesthetic can coexist in a piece of jewelry. My world is ruled by color. Achieving stunning colors naturally is my passion and I love spreading awareness about the difference it can make in our health and the health of our planet. I am lucky to live and work in California, a perfect cultural and environmental backdrop for my explorations.

What is your favorite tool and why?

I love finishing work and therefore my flex shaft is one of my favorite tools, especially when combined with Japanese sandpaper rolls. The result is a perfect modern finish for my jewelry pieces and it is very satisfying to use.

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

I love using horsehair, natural dyes and brass in my current body of work. There is a certain magic that happens when smooth medallions of sculptured brass is juxtaposed with the wild beauty of hand-dyed horsehair.

I believe that every business has an obligation to pay attention to where the raw materials are coming from and what impact they have in the community. My horsehair is ethically gathered by members of the Caddo Nation. All the colors in my work are achieved with natural dyes that are locally sourced. Whatever I decide to use in my work, I make sure that it comes from a good ethical source. I love to source locally whenever possible and support other small businesses and marginalized communities.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw my inspiration from the natural world, California coast, and Scandinavian design in the 60s as well as Mid-Century Modern Design aesthetic.

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

I’ve been working in metals since 2015. My grandfather was a jeweler in Moscow; growing up I was surrounded by collectible lapidary sculptures made from minerals from all over the world, I credit them as my first introduction to ancient craft that eventually led me to metalwork.

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

My main advice would be to get really clear on your mission and exactly what you want to say with your work. It can help to think about what you want to be known for and what impact you want to create in your design community.

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 so far is finding access to innovation within the industry. There are so many developments in fashion with recycled and bio design and I look forward to exploring more of these options in my contemporary jewelry practice.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

I love Scrap SF for all kinds of recycled treasures and thecarrotbox.com for some good jewelry fun and wonderment.

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September 2019

Shana Astrachan

Website: shanaastrachanjewelry.com
Instagram: foxanddoll

  • Shana Astrachan
  • Shana Astrachan
  • Shana Astrachan
  • Shana Astrachan
  • Shana Astrachan

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in San Francisco. I moved here straight out of art school in 1996 and wanted a community of artists that the city had to offer. I joined the Metal Arts Guild within weeks of coming to SF and have met so many wonderful friends through it. I served on the MAG board for a few years, as the exhibitions director, and loved putting on some of our annual shows. I also am part of a critique collective, of artists I met through MAG, and we have been together over 20 years meeting monthly to discuss our work. I’ve worked as a designer and maker my whole professional career, with jewelry and metals as my focus. And about ten years ago in 2009 I shifted to the cosmetic industry, through product design and development I came to my current main focus working as a makeup artist and hairstylist, working on shoots, commercials, some film and doing my first season on the SF Opera this year. I have a strong passion for all things vintage, including clothing, music and architecture. I am seeing this come through more and more in my jewelry and design projects as I get back to creating some new work after a break during my career change. My newest designs are acrylic laser-cut hairsticks, a crossover between my jewelry and vintage hairstyling work. I would like to create more hair accessories and beauty related items that bridge my jewelry background with my love of vintage beauty and glamour.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My flex shaft. There are so many different things I can do with it and there is no substitute. I have had mine since I started making jewelry, about 25 years, and it still runs perfectly.

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

Mostly silver, some gold and some stones. I have used rock that I sandblast, yearn that I felt, plastic that I use as links. I love unusual materials and finding new ways to work with them.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Mid Century design. Vintage fashions of the 50s and 60s. Heirloom jewelry.

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

When I was 13, I found some jewelry tools and books in my basement, it turned out my father had done some jewelry making. I picked it all up and just started cutting and bending wire, it came naturally to me, and from there I wanted to learn more so my senior year of high school I would drive myself an hour and a half to the next state over (from NH to ME) every Saturday to take a class. I ended up going to collage at that school and studying under Tim McCreight and Alan Perry at Maine College of Art.

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

Get a good foundations education learning the basics of working with the material. Challenge yourself to learn new techniques, then do them your own way. If you plan to run it as a business take a business class and write a business plan. The Renaissance Center in San Francisco is  a great resource for this.

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?

When I first started out on my own to make work to sell and make a living off of it I couldn’t afford the materials I wanted. So I started working with plastics and fibers which were much less costly, sometimes even free. It challenged me to work in new ways and design unusual items that the restrictions of the materials dictated. It changed my work in wonderful ways.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

TAP plastics is a great resource for making your own display items, and even unusual jewelry elements. I also love finding other resources for unconventional materials at hardware stores, craft stores and thrift stores. And SCRAP in San Francisco is an amazing resource.

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August 2019

Judy Pagnusat

Website: judypag.com
Instagram: Judypag_designs

  • Judy Pagnusat
  • Judy Pagnusat
  • Judy Pagnusat
  • Judy Pagnusat
  • Judy Pagnusat

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been making art as far back as I can remember and no matter what medium I work in, I make jewelry. My first recollection creating jewelry was in 3rd grade when a friend and I made sword pins to sell, using pearl topped hat pins, added beads and lanyard for the hilt. My first profession was as a hairdresser and salon owner which fed my artistic nature. I next became an outside sales rep and my favorite sales job was selling, teaching and demonstrating Asian art supplies to art stores throughout Northern California. As I approached retirement, I looked for what was next and started fusing glass and making glass jewelry. I wanted to make my own findings and found metal clay, from there I studied and began to work in metalsmithing and now am doing a lot of enameling. I am amused that I have gone full circle, from glass, metals and now am working in glass on metal.

What is your favorite tool and why?

Choosing a favorite tool is like asking me to pick a favorite child. I love my hammers, forming tools and kilns, I couldn’t live without them. I just love manipulating metals and love any tool that helps me do that.

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

My favorite material is copper as I love its warmth, plus it is inexpensive so I can experiment and play as much as I want without breaking the bank. Copper is easy to work with and I like its rustic look. Not only can I heat patina it, it is the best metal to use with enamels and contrasts well with other metals. I feel it is limitless and feeds my desire to include color in my work.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

It is most likely nature as my favorite subjects are leaves and birds. They both make me happy and I try to convey that joy in my work.

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

I have been working in metals since 2001, starting with metal clay. I love to wear jewelry and thought it would be fun to create my own. Little did I know the vast experiences that were available to me.

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

Metals are fantastic and there are no limits to what you can learn, especially with resources like YouTube and many other knowledgeable sites such as manufacturers and vendors. If you are attracted to a style or technique, look for information about it as you will likely find out how to do it or where to learn about it. There are so many directions you can take within the subject. Go for it, don’t be afraid!

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 right now is having to work in production mode, what I dream of creating and what sells are not always the same thing. I make one of a kind jewelry that I sell in a tourist area. I am likely to sell more inexpensive items there as opposed to more elaborate work. I don’t really see this as a burden though, as my work sells, I love making it and I earn enough to keep doing what I do.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

I am a shopper, so when I am looking for something, I look at all resources to find the item and the best offer. The vendor I use the most is probably Wire Jewelry. I am a gold member which means I get a discount and plus whatever special they are offering. Cool Tools and Enamel Warehouse are a couple of my other favorites.

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June 2019

Deborah Lozier

Website: DeborahLozier.com

  • Deborah Lozier
  • Deborah Lozier
  • Deborah Lozier
  • Deborah Lozier
  • Deborah Lozier

Tell us a little about yourself.

I moved to the Bay Area in 1988. I joined MAG in 1989 – the year of the Loma Prieta earth quake. The first true opportunity I received as a jeweler was through this organization – the Metal Smiths Fair at Fort Mason. I was working in isolation in my garage studio and didn’t know anyone but my husband. I entered the fair from an ad I saw in Artweek magazine. I was accepted! And then got busy making my first body of work. I set up my booth and panicked. I felt so out of place. Kim Keyworth was my first customer. Elizabeth Shypertt and Mike Holmes were just starting Velvet da Vinci. I met so many people at that event it changed my life. Most things in my career have been accidental or indirect. I work hard and push myself but live by a leap of faith. Early on I entered everything and learned to take rejection as part of the process.  But most of my professional opportunities have come to me out of the blue and not from a direct pursuit. I learned to say yes and then got busy figuring out how I was going to follow through. I seem to have two personas. The eager confident one who thinks she can do anything and the other one, which is who I spend the most time with. She ponders and worries on how to make it happen with a little more anxiety and self doubt then I like to admit. But it has worked out and I am grateful for each opportunity and feel fortunate to have been allowed to follow this path.

What is your favorite tool and why?

The humble ball peen hammer. I have a lovely, perfectly weighted #1 Maruki I bought at a flea market in Tempe, Arizona the summer after I graduated from Arizona State University. That would be 1984, so awhile ago. Probably everything I have ever made out of metal has felt its blow at some point. When I am lost in the studio I find myself picking it up and hammering something, anything and it always calmly leads the way to something better.

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

Copper and enamel are my main materials. Together they make more then the sum of their parts. Enamel needs the support of the copper to survive yet somehow she has convinced the copper the he needs her more. Its a lovely balance to explore.  I also have a fear of commitment so I really appreciate that the materials themselves are forgiving and without a huge perceived value. Especially when I first began, they were super cheap. I like that it is our time together that generates value, and the missed opportunities are not as hard to take since it is mostly my time that is lost.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From life as it quietly yet often abruptly unfolds throughout the days, weeks, months and years. And nature, the most gifted artist of all time. I know I can never measure up but it is a worthy guide to follow and observe.

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

I took my first jewelry class in high school when I was 15 years old. I of course did not realize at the time that it would be something I would pursue but things did seem to flow quite naturally. I took a metals class in college because I needed more credits and the class was open. I thought it would be an easy A, yet here I am so many years later still trying to figure things out.

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

It is a broad material. Don’t be too tight with it, in the beginning at least. Let it show you what it has to offer before you make too many preconceived judgments. Let the process speak to you and lead the way. Finding results that you don’t like is as important as finding those that you do. They define each other and help you to find your own path and voice. The beautiful objects will develop over time as your skills improve. But if you need the end result too much you risk making timid decisions, thus timid pieces.

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?

Financial Sustainability!! There are countless opportunities for making, teaching and showing out there. But making a living wage has always been a challenge. There are always new, young artists ready to find their way – I was one of them. We say yes to everything, will work for next to nothing thinking that the money will come later when we are more well known. But its a perpetual cycle and one I think deserves a real discussion. I have been lucky having a partner who makes a living wage and is also so supportive of what I do. But that was just luck and something not everyone with promising talent receives.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

My favorite vendor used to be Small Parts, but Amazon ate it whole! I miss their catalog. But any Ace Hardware store is my friend. The perfect solution is hiding there somewhere. I just need to wander around until it finds me.

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May 2019

Tammy Caldwell

Website: tammycaldwell.com
Instagram: tammycaldwelljewelry

  • Tammy Caldwell
  • Tammy Caldwell
  • Tammy Caldwell
  • Tammy Caldwell
  • Tammy Caldwell

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Tammy Caldwell. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains with my hubby and two boys. I love a good bourbon and my happy place is by the ocean.  

What is your favorite tool and why?

Don’t make me pick just one!  The jewelers saw is my fave. Its where I find my zen. But I have a half round needle file that is a close second. It’s the perfect grit and size for finishing nooks and crannies.

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

I am a sterling silver girl through and through. I love the timeless look of a naturally patinated sterling piece. I remember walking through the town of San Gimignano in Italy many moons ago where the streets were lined with silver metal shops. I was in heaven! I use gemstones frequently in my works, but I always try to make the metal the star.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I wouldn’t be the first artist to say nature! But it’s true, there is so much natural beauty all around us.  My work aims to draw a spotlight onto the natural textures and patterns of nature. My work incorporates patterns of magnetic fields, lunar surfaces, the shadows created on beach sand, tree bark, wet stone, you name it!

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

Since high school! I was fortunate enough to have a metalsmithing program in high school. That’s where I learned my basics.  I went on to get a degree in Chemical Engineering, but even when I was working in biotech, I was making on the side. I’ve taken many workshops/courses over the years to expand my technical abilities and now that my children are a bit older, I feel I have more time to devote to my first love.

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

I find I learn most by doing. Make and make and practice and practice. You learn what you like and what you don’t by doing. No amount of talking or drawing will teach you like making can.

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?

Marketing! I love making, but the business end has definitely been challenging. It has definitely been a learning curve, but a mentor said to me once, throw your seeds and see what sticks!

Favorite resource/vendor or website

For tools and supplies, Rio and Otto Frei are my go to. For gems, I pick 90% of them by hand. I love going to local gem shows or picking up different gems in my travels.

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April 2019

Emma Macchiarini Mankin-Morris

Website: macreativedesign.com
Instagram: emmamacchiarini

  • Emma Macchiarini
  • Emma Macchiarini
  • Emma Macchiarini
  • Emma Macchiarini
  • Emma Macchiarini
  • Emma Macchiarini
  • Emma Macchiarini
  • Emma Macchiarini

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am Emma Macchiarini Mankin-Morris, a metalsmith, a teacher, an administrator of my own jewelry school, President of The Metal Arts Guild, and last but not least, a mom. I go by the last name Macchiarini however, so that people know that I am part of the Macchiarini family. I am the third generation of metal smiths in the Macchiarini family.

In my jewelry, I draw inspiration from the work of my father and grandfather, as well as the materials I am using, and my love of the natural world. Themes in my work vary from animal forms, floral blooms, and the human body, to outer space and mathematic, or geometric pattern. I enjoy creating jewelry which comes of a process rather than a pattern. I look at jewelry making as an adventure with challenges, and points of interest, rather than the mere creation of an object. Sometimes, I find that the challenges of making things leads me to places I never would have gone. There is genius hidden in mistakes. I have found in creating special objects for people to love, acceptance, and patience are more valuable, than technical bravado.

I try to keep an eye on posture and form during jewelry making. To me, everything about jewelry making is somatic. I have a sketch journal of work that inspires me, and that I want to create that is always handy. I love to draw jewelry ideas. I started out my art career as a painter, and my practice is a cross-pollination of creativity, and innovation which is informed by interdisciplinary art practice. I love teaching, and making things, and enjoying the studio with students and family members.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My favorite tool is a ball pein hammer that my dad welded a specialty spring grip onto. He gave it to me for Christmas one year as a special gift. It really is the best tool ever. It has sentimental value, as well as being useful. The spring grip absorbs the shock of the strike so that the wearer is saved elbow and carpal tunnel injury. Also, the weight of the hammer is greater since the grip is steel, this gives the strike more heft and authority.

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

I like working with anything. I love gold, but I also like working with repurposed trash items. Anything and everything can be made precious, just by paying attention to it. I love meteorite and citrines, and rubies. I prefer copper to brass, but I don’t mind working with any type of precious metals.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from the works of a lot of people who made things during the arts and craft movement. I love the modernist jewelers, not just my grandfather, but others as well. I love looking at Pinterest and seeing what’s out there. Mostly though, I turn inward for design ideas. If I look at the materials, they will tell me what they want to be.

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

I have been working at the jewelry bench since I was 11 years old. I’m not going to tell you how long that has been.

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

I never give advice, no one follows it. I would only point someone toward their own inspiration. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run, run before you fly. Order of operations is very important in metal work.

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 for me these days is keeping stillness and focus in the studio. The cell phone, and all its interrogatory elements threatens this process every day. I must remind myself to focus on the work, and to do only one thing at a time. It is impossible to multitask at the bench. Making things is an activity from another time, so we must work hard to incorporate that into this life of emails, internet, and social media.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

An often-unexplored resource is Depot for Creative Reuse in the east bay. They have lots of nice items that can be incorporated into your jewelry, especially if you make found object and alternative materials work.

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March 2019

Gail Reid

Website: gailreidstudio.com
Instagram: gailreidstudio

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in the Bay Area and studied photography here. When I moved back years later my interest in sculpture lead me to metalworking classes and I quickly gravitated to forming and raising. I love the challenge of raising a shape, then moving it asymmetrically towards something more interesting. With liquid and powdered enamels, I create layered surfaces to capture action and disruption in the glass. I’m compelled by the combination of a vessel’s controlled shape and strong lines with the chance and chaos of the enamel.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My favorite tool is probably my Dixon #9 T stake. It was my first big forming tool purchase and it is a pleasure to raise on. I’ve made a number of stakes with longer necks or sharper curves, but I always start vessels on the Dixon. The geometry is just right, and it feels like you don’t work as hard to move the metal.

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

Copper, I love copper. It’s wonderfully malleable and forgiving, and it plays so nicely with enamel. You can let the copper stay quietly in the background of an enameled surface or incorporate the fire scale and oxides into the design. Enamel sometimes seems to have a mind of its own, and I find myself switching between working to control it and embracing the unexpected.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I’m inspired by observing and photographing shape and texture in nature and my urban surroundings. Inspiration also comes from working the metal and exploring what happens to a shape as it compresses, or as it is folded or cut apart.

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

I began taking metalworking classes around 2000, starting with jewelry and welding classes. But it was a metal forming class with Jack da Silva that hooked me on the plasticity of metal. Since then I’ve spent untold hours experimenting in my studio, learning the rules, breaking a lot of them, and making stakes and forming tools with friends.

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

If you’re beginning to experiment with enamel, know that the process is part art and part science. Take notes as you work, and you’ll have a better chance of understand and reproducing your results. And make sure you have good studio ventilation!

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 price of tools. Learning to forge some of them has helped, and repurposing things that weren’t originally intended to be tools. It’s also a challenge to find opportunities to work with other artists and share information. So, I’m a fan of the MAG metalsmithing days!

Favorite resource/vendor or website

Alan Steel in Redwood City. Great place to get copper and steel, and there’s always something cool in the piles of scrap.

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February 2019

Suzane Beaubrun

Website: sbeaubrun.com
Instagram: suzbeaubrun

  • Suzane Beaubrun
  • Suzane Beaubrun
  • Suzane Beaubrun
  • Suzane Beaubrun
  • Suzane Beaubrun

Tell us a little about yourself.

A recent customer looked at my display and remarked, “ This is all kind of kooky, but it works”. I’d like to think that sums up my life as well as my work. My art is a combination of found and upcycled objects, semi-precious stones and metal. Most of my formal training has been in painting and printmaking, but somehow, I ended up working in metal. I have a jewelry studio at my home in Oakland, where I take breaks by indulging in my side hobbies of squirrel millinery and manufacturing cat toys. I keep myself from becoming a complete hermit by serving on the boards of two different art cooperatives.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My favorite tool is the first tool I purchased; my 6” jewelry saw frame and my 8/0 sawblades. I guess I keep things pretty basic. I enjoy slowing down and doing intricate designs that are partially sketched out and partially organic. It’s a meditative, process, like drawing. My second favorite tool is my crochet hook. I use a lot of crocheted elements in my work.

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

I mostly use silver and copper, sheet and wire. I love that these metals can be formed into delicate but durable pieces. It’s great that something so strong can be so flexible depending on how you work it. I use a lot of recycled materials as well. I appreciate the challenge of transforming the discarded objects I find on the city streets into treasures.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I get inspired by making. Each piece I work on whets my appetite for the next piece. I see what seems successful, what can be improved upon and how I can challenge myself on the next project. I also like flipping through books and finding new techniques that I can incorporate into my arsenal.

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

I guess I’ve been working in metal for about twenty years! I’d been focusing on painting as my primary medium since childhood and never considered working with metal or making jewelry until I took a class at The Craft Students League in NY. I can’t remember what inspired me to take that class, but the instructor, Lisa Spiros, was amazing. Her enthusiasm for fine art jewelry was infectious. Never underestimate the power of a great teacher.

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

My advice is to use your hands as much as possible. Sure, machines can do a lot and quickly, but you learn so much by slowing down and using your hands.

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 has been dealing with people who just don’t think of jewelry as fine art. I show in a multi-media gallery and I’ve had people confess to me that they don’t even look in the jewelry cases because they don’t wear it or don’t understand it. That attitude can be discouraging, but I overcome it by remembering how my first jewelry teacher inspired me with her enthusiasm. I try to infuse my work with that kind of passion and have faith that it will find an appreciative audience.

Favorite resource/vendor or website

My new favorite vendor is Otto Frei because I just found out they give MAG members a discount! But seriously, it’s wonderful having a resource so close by and the staff has always been helpful.

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January 2019

Chrystal Sunshine

Website: chrystalsunshinejewelry.com
Instagram: chrystalsunshinejewelry

  • Chrystal Sunshine
  • Chrystal Sunshine

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m drawn to the often unseen intersections of things, people and places and to the poetics that unfold when we use materials like metal to explore those meeting points. I live in the North Bay with my six year old son, where I make and sell my jewelry locally and at juried fine art shows. I teach metalsmithing classes at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and also just launched an exciting new business- SHIFT Book Box, a subscription box, featuring children’s picture books and accompanying discussion guides based on a monthly theme relating to social justice and representative diversity for ages 3-8. You can find more about that project here: www.shiftbookbox.com. Otherwise, I can be found writing, playing the ukulele, getting lost in the woods, and finding creative ways to parent my magical, however wild child.

What is your favorite tool and why?

A close competition between: the snap-on Moore’s sanding discs for the flex shaft, because there really isn’t a better cleanup tool that can evenly and gently reshape specific areas and quickly remove scratches, solder and other inconsistencies– with these tasks I’m certain they save me thousands of hours. And, my chasing, repoussé tools and pitch pot, because I love being able to specifically and directly shape any piece of metal using this method- it reminds me of how malleable metal really is and the whole process makes me feel connected the ancient roots of metalsmithing and also somewhat like a wizard.

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

I really love the look of mixed metals, and also knowing the specific nature and properties of each material. I use gold, silver, bronze, copper and brass, sometimes separately, but often together. Each metal has its own tensile strength, annealing and melting temperature, visual tone and feeling. I also use a variety of high quality gemstones- from sparkling faceted to rough and raw- I love using a combination of materials to evoke specific feelings or to conceptually and visually exemplify particular environments.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

All around me. Sometimes I begin with a stone, and if I meditate on it- it will eventually reveal a relationship to me that I feel compelled to narrate using the conceptual and literal support of metal. I am drawn to repetitive processes and certain imagery as well- so I tend to work in series. I’ve made wearable pieces that explored the 5 elements, the experience of breath, a series on landscapes, butterfly wings and currently on my bench you’ll find a series relating to rural landscapes.

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

I began studying metal art at the Academy of Art University in 2000, and honestly loathed the craft and wasn’t very good at it either. The process itself is my personal contradiction. I like to get messy, run amok and be spontaneous. Jewelry making requires precision, focus and planning. I’m also quite stubborn and for whatever reason sought to hone these skills, as an act of discipline. Eventually, I fell in love with the structure of metal- I love how it it moves from annealed state to hardened state and that its structure can be literally transformed through process. I finished my degree in Sculpture with an emphasis on metals and installation art and continued to work in the field after graduation- picking up additional skills here and there working as a production metalsmith and assistant to a caster and eventually launched my own business- Chrystal Sunshine Jewelry.

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

 Learning this craft can be challenging and emotional for lots of people. This might sound hokey- but in the beginning- I always found that whatever I was dealing with emotionally, became mirrored in the problems that arose in my work. I still remember these really intense moments when I was first learning that seem wildly silly now- like one time when I got so frustrated I broke down in tears because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make a perfect square- and that was the first step in my process of making a ball clasp. It didn’t occur to my instructors to teach me how to draw a perfect square. And it seemed insurmountable at the time for me to figure it out. Now I can see- simply, the right tool for the job and the proper technique for accomplishing your goals are very likely already out there. So don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re learning- you’re learning. That’s a vulnerable place to be and that’s OK. Do the research, talk to other jewelers, scour YouTube, take classes, don’t hesitate to invent your own tools and methods if the ones that serve your purpose aren’t already out there are or are things you can’t afford and lastly- it will all come in time.

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 struggle with making jewelry has been to find meaning in the work. For a long time- I thought that making jewelry was an act of egoism- and that without a deep, conceptual meaning and usable function (other than wearing the piece), jewelry didn’t serve a high enough purpose in the world to dedicate ones time to it fully. Pulled by the political climate and world issues, I really struggled with this for a long time.

One day, my switches all flipped, when I began thinking about how people have long used jewelry, clothing and body paint/makeup to assert their own identities. I began thinking of a book I read in my 20’s called, “Fresh Lipstick” that pointed out how whenever there is an oppressor and a group that is oppressed- one of the first things that will happen is that the oppressor will remove the clothing and jewelry of the oppressed group, shave their heads or confiscate combs, and disable any ability for self expression. I think this is a remarkable thing to think about- it reminded me of how important these wearable articles are for so many people- they help us externally identify who we are. The other thing that came into my consciousness was a woman who recalled to me– in the case of an emergency when a person knows they will possibly or likely never be able to return to their home again, what do they take with them? Important paperwork. And jewelry. I began to see the power of fine jewelry for it’s position in the lineage of families and associations with identity. Those realizations really reframed my understanding of what jewelers do- we’re creating things that people connect to in ways which we might not ever totally understand and I think that’s really cool.

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

I like to buy recycled gold from Hoover and Strong, and gemstones direct from my favorite dealers!