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!