Do it yourself Jewellery Bench
Since I graduated from University last May, the goal has always been to be able to open my own studio. During my free time this summer, I met with some jewellers to get advice on how to make this happen and hear how they did it. Bit by bit, you buy tools and equipment. For a while there I thought I would rent a separate space for my studio. I was trying to figure out how I was going to budget all of this until I realized that I could use the lofted space in my apartment. The walls aren’t ideal as it is in the roof, but I can definitely make it work.
Lucky for me, my boyfriend is a handy furniture maker, so together we designed and built a custom jewellery bench. With a bit of wood, some basic hand tools, Ikea legs, and some leather, one can build one just like I did!
To get up into my new workspace, I have to climb up a ladder. I actually like that it is separate from the rest of my apartment. Of course I could have just bought a bench, but it would have cost a lot more money and with the triangle shape, it would have been difficult to find a nice sized bench that would fit.
Once I had my dimensions I started making drawings, and went to the local wood shop to see what my options would be. I ended up going with slightly thicker pieces of wood than is photographed here, but it still had the “tongue and groove” on the side. Houthandel Schmidt was able to cut and deliver the wood to me the next day, all for less than 45 euros. I also bought the table legs off of Marktplaats.nl (the Dutch version of Craigslist) so I was able to save some money there, even though I did end up having to go to Ikea anyway to get two more legs, as 4 wasn’t enough for the L shaped bench. In the end we just needed some wood glue, a drill, screws and clamps to assemble the bench. I also stained it and installed some lighting in the space. Yesterday, I ordered some basic tools that will enable me to start making work in my new space. I can’t wait for it to arrive!
I hope this helps all the other aspiring metalsmiths out there to get started with their workspace, too!
Jewellery Dinner Swap
Last Friday I attended a networking event for up and coming jewellers here in Amsterdam. There were students and recent grads in town for SIERAAD, international art jewellery fair. A friend of mine, Sam Hamilton, had the great idea and organized this event. She said that it can be difficult as a ’junior’ to get to know other students and new jewelers from around Europe. We often run into the same group of students at jewellery fairs such as Sieraad and Schmuck, so to have a dinner and drinks together was a great idea.
The dinner tables were in a private space in an Italian restaurant. We were seated with other people attending the event that we didn’t know which was a great way to get to know new people. At the end of the evening we all put our piece of jewellery out on a dinner plate and walked around. We had about ten minutes to decide which piece we wanted then had to go and pick up the plate or stand by it. In some cases so many people wanted the same piece, they had to put up a fight for it! In the end I traded with Mara Grigoriu. She is Romainian and is finishing up her final year at Koninklijke Academie Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. Her piece was made of silicon cast into a sponge, with water balloons set into it and hanging from a lime green cord. She actually took my golden bottle earrings as well. You can see us photographed together wearing our new pieces.
One of my favorite jewelers, Jed Green, that exhibited at LOOT: MAD About Jewelry in NYC
British jeweler Jed Green uses lamp-blown glass, silver, wood, and pearls, to create innovative, contemporary, handmade, and one-of-a-kind pieces. Green forms shapes from clear glass tubes that she links together, drills, and pins to form moving pieces, or sets in clusters. She paints inside the glass shapes to apply color, and uses handmade ceramic transfers to create patterns on the outside. The transformation of simple, clear glass tubes into soft sculptural forms is intrinsic to Green’s work, as is her experimentation with color, texture, and shape. She is constantly searching for new ways to express her creativity and inspirations in glass. Her work radiates fragility and lightness, and her use of color and form makes each piece unique and eminently collectable.
Philip Sajet has always been one of my favorite contemporary jewelers. In my opinion he mixes fine jewelry with contemporary jewelry, creating exquisitely crafted, wearable yet unusual works of art. He uses the traditional diamond motif throughout a lot of his works, but uses rough cut stones or even metal to fabricate this motif. Sajet also uses more unusual materials such as horn, shell or bone in his works. Another thing I love, he never fails to incorporate findings such as clasps or other connections into the design. In the necklaces above, you can barely even notice the clasp is there! I have always thought that focusing on the small details is what makes one a good designer or maker, and Philip Sajet certainly has that down pat.
My first contact with Philip Sajet was this summer when I e-mailed him about a possible internship in Amsterdam at his studio. Little did I know he currently works in the South of France. He was kind enough to put me in contact with Gésine Hackenberg, whom I am assisting in her atelier currently, and gave me a recommendation. I am so grateful for his generosity for helping me get set up with Gésine. I guess thats how things are done in Europe!
This weekend Philip was in Amsterdam and contacted Gésine to use her rolling mill to mill some gold. This seemed like a great opportunity for us to meet, so I joined them at the atelier. He brought along his daughter Nina who also worked for Gésine years ago (I will do a separate post about Nina soon). I watched him roll out his six to seven ingots of gold using the same torch and mill I have used. He told me he was going to use that gold to make some locks (I think clasps). I have a huge desire to work with this material, and he said that if you can work with silver, gold is even easier. He said he likes to use the comparison of running in sand - thats like working in silver, then after if you run on pavement - thats like working in gold. I mentioned how if I could afford gold, no doubt I already would have known this! He also said that silver is cheap, just use that. That comment made me laugh actually, because I don’t think silver is cheap either! But hey, when you compare the two, silver is within reach.
My adventure in Amsterdam has taught me so much, and I probably wouldn’t have learned any of it had I not met a lot of these artists I’m writing about on this blog. if there is an artist or person whose work you admire, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask them questions. The worst that can happen is that they say no.
Images courtesy of http://current-obsession.com/Philip-Sajet
An interesting article by Damien Skinner comparing luxury jewelry and contemporary art jewelry
Saturday was the opening of Gésine Hackenberg’s solo exhibition at Galerie Ra. It was a fantastic turnout with collectors and fans of Gésine’s as well as friends and family to see the new works. The series is an exploration of all different types of fruits and vegetables, but using this same pealing process to create the form. She also made these silver ‘nets’ that can be worn as a necklace. It is a take on the reusable nets you take to the market to shop for fruits and vegetables. The process of creating each fruit by pealing coupled with filling the nets with one’s ‘shopping’ relates back to the basic human interaction with the subject, eating.
The display was simple yet effective and stayed true to the theme. She used wooden crates to display the jewelry and the fruits and vegetables, similar to the fruit stands that I would see in front of a bodega in NYC, and elsewhere in the world. My favorite necklace is the Wine Scroll Collier (4th photo, neckpiece on the right) as well as the cherries and carrots.
To read more about the exhibition, please visit http://www.galerie-ra.nl/en/gesine-hackenberg-expo
To see more of Gésine’s works, visit http://www.gesinehackenberg.com/
*personal photographs from the opening night.
A few weeks ago I met with “jewelry architect” Emanuela Deyanova Ramjuly. I originally discovered her work through browsing the international art jewelry site, klimt02.net. I asked her “why jewelry?” and she said that her mother was a goldsmith in Bulgaria (where she is originally from) and so she sort of grew up with it. She collaborated with her mother on a lot of the collections on her site she said, but has recently decided to go on to her own path in jewelry.
Emanuela described her work in two different categories, commercial and contemporary. The first four images are some of my favorites from her more commercial line. These were from the collection Sun Rise Sun Set. The oxidized silver, gold and use of stones reminded me a little bit of Atelier Zobel (whose work I’ve seen in person at the Aaron Faber jewelry gallery in New York City) and so I’m not surprised that I was attracted to her jewelry as well.
The contemporary jewelry incorporates brushes into the jewelry which I think is really great. I think this material explores the sense of touch in a different way than metal does. I’ve always liked the way brushes feel whether I am painting or simply putting a bit of makeup on. This series was a finalist in the N’JOYAT 2010 in Barcelona.
With Ramjuly’s background in collaborating with her mother in past collections, she is still interested in working with other art jewelers in creating a contemporary collection. I hope that in the next year or so when the timing is right for both of us to revisit this opportunity.
images courtesy of www.ramjuly.com
To see more images of her work, also visit ramjuly.com
Last Sunday was the 2013 Graduate Jewelry Exhibition at Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen, NL. Galerie Marzee is the largest contemporary jewelry gallery in the world; three floors filled with the most beautiful and conceptual works, I was in heaven! Although no one’s work from my graduating class made it into the exhibition, there was one Pratt alumni with pieces there, Timothy McMahon (first singular neckpiece shown).
First I’d like to say how I really enjoyed the simple yet effective display of all the neckpieces on the long brick wall. There was honestly so much jewelry in there, so I think this was a great solution to get as much work as possible on display. Plus, who doesn’t love a wall filled with necklaces?
The next few images are some of my favorites from the exhibition. First of course being Timothy McMahon’s (MA Cranbrook University, Michigan) neckpiece from his Frore series. The chain was simple (there was actually another artist who used a very similar chain, maybe this is becoming popular?) and served it’s purpose well with the powder coated elements on it.
Izzy Parker (MA Royal College of Art, London) was the creator in the following porcupine-ske neckpiece from her series, Tactile Treatment. It really had a wow factor about it. After I went to Parker’s website and I saw it on the body I was blown away, it really takes it to another level. I wish Galerie Marzee would have displayed this piece to show it’s true form.
Daniella Saraya (BA Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Israel) created her collection, Uncover, through assymetrical yet organic designs from plastic stone, silver and epoxy. They all had a porous texture that was hand done but was natural looking at the same time. Her work was probably my favorite at the entire show. It made me feel like I uncovered fossilized jewelry under ground that turned into treasure.
The last singular piece shown was by Shimrit Zagorsky (BA Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Israel). I really liked the visible process of creating these pieces. It looks as though a wire structure was made and after hydraulic pressed on top of it to form a structure in copper sheet. Some of the three dimensional forms even looked like facets on a stone! I don’t think that the square edges around the copper sheet is completely resolved however. I think I would have preferred the sheet to be cut out around where it was formed from each wire structure.
The exhibition gave me so much inspiration, and I cannot wait to go to the next show at Galerie Marzee. Please find each artists website below to see more images of their work.
I spent Sunday afternoon in Nijmegen, NL to attend the Galerie Marzee graduate jewelry exhibition. I decided to take the train down early so that I could explore Nijmegen a bit as I had never been there. I stumbled upon this old church Stevenskerk, which is now used as an art gallery. It’s been a while since I’ve discovered a new painter who’s work I really liked. Introducing Dutch painter Margot Maaskaant (b.1971). She mainly does landscapes of Dutch scenery. Here are a few images that I took while at Stevenskerk, albeit they really don’t do the works justice!
You can find more images of her paintings on her website, margotmaaskant.nl
Last Friday I went to have a meeting with legendary designer Gijs Bakker. I’ve seen Bakker’s work all over the world, in New York at the Museum of Art and Design, in London’s Victoria and Albert and here in Amsterdam at the Stedelijk and Rijks Museums. Not to mention, his jewelry is published in almost every contemporary jewelry book I’ve seen! His studio was located in the inner canal ring of Amsterdam in a classic canal house. “It really doesn’t get any better than this!” he said. Well I’d have to agree, it was beautiful.
The top image is called Plastic Soup- a bracelet made from plastic straws (some of them gold plated). The straws still felt squishy when I put it on. Chi ha Paura…? (now called CHP) makes and sells the design. Bakker founded CHP with gallery owner Marijke Vallanzasca in 1996. He also was a co-founder of Droog Design (but has since resigned in 2009). CHP produces conceptual designer jewelry with the highest quality standard.
The next ring is also in the CHP shop and is called “You Can’t Have it All.” It features three classic ring styles, but soldered together so you can wear it three different ways. The Circle in a Circle bracelet shown here dates back to 1967, but I was able to try on the grey perspex version CHP produces and sells in Bakker’s studio. The concept was about cutting a circle at a right angle of another circle, to make room for the arm.
I was so excited about the new works I got to see and try on during my meeting with Gijs Bakker, I can’t forget to mention here the first time I was able to hold one of his pieces. Years ago my seminar professor Janet Koplos organized a Q&A with Helen Drutt (who happens to be Bakker’s gallerist) at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Drutt had this brooch with her and passed it around, It is made of silver and diamonds. Bakker told me that in the 50’s his dad drove a Buick like this. He said back then these big American cars were the sign of luxury and new technologies.
It was so interesting to meet with the legendary designer himself. I hope in the near future to be able to work for him and gain insight on how to achieve success in the contemporary jewelry design world as he did!
images from gijsbakker.nl and chihapaura.com
Last week I met with contemporary Chinese jeweler Jie Sun. He relocated to Amsterdam to do a Masters at Sandberg Institute of Gerrit Rietveld. Since I have arrived here in Amsterdam I have been so grateful to have the opportunity to meet different jewelers and talk about how they got their career started, hear about their work and take in any advice they have to offer me on how to get my own career going.
First, of course, there is the question I seem to ask everyone, “how did you get your studio going?” Jie said, like most of the other jewelers I’ve asked, that the first two years or so I’m going to have a second job that will help pay the bills. While I was thinking to myself, two years?! That’s it?! Well, at the very least, it’s a good goal to set for myself. Whenever you find yourself not working that second job, every spare moment you have should be spent in the studio if you really want to make it. Those moments in the studio are precious.
I also asked Jie how he got his works into exhibitions and galleries. Again, his response was like most other artists I’ve spoke with. If you go and approach a gallery and say, “hey, have a look at my work! I think it would look great in your gallery!” you’re most likely not going to end up being represented by that gallery.
Most gallerists want to discover the work themselves. He said the best way to get discovered is to apply for jewelry fairs like Schmuck (yearly- Munich http://www.klimt02.net/fairs/schmuck-2013 ), competitions, and call for entries. This makes me hopeful that this year at the Museum of Art and Design’s LOOT where I will be exhibiting, that possibly I will be discovered. Or at the very least, earn enough to buy a few essential pieces of equipment to get my studio going.
The above images are some of Jie Sun’s brooches (images courtesy of his website). I asked him what they were made out of, I guessed that they were powder coated. He said he doesn’t really like to tell people what they are made of, he believes that people obsess too much over what the material is and wants the attention to be on the content of the piece. Although in the end he did tell me what the material was, can you guess?
You can find more images of his work on his website, www.jie-sun.nl
Yesterday I went to visit Amsterdam based German jewelry Andrea Wagner. She is very nice and friendly and truly believes in the sharing of ideas. I love being able to go and see an artists workspace, ask questions and actually handle work. It’s a much more personal experience than going to a gallery and just observing. In the images above are some of Andrea’s architecture garden brooches. Her use of materials are so interesting. She gets all of these amazing textures from seed beads, porcelain and silver. Her work very loosely designed and she really is composing these elements together rather than sticking to one tightly drawn out idea, so her jewelry literally evolves under the hands of the artist!
Since I’ve graduated and finished my last show, I’ve been trying to come up with new concepts and ideas for my next body of work. I am feeling a bit stuck and I’m not sure where to begin. Andrea gave me some good advice which I think will help other jewelers and artists out there alike. She said go take a vacation and draw for a month, or if you are inspired by experience, go do something you’ve never done before. Sometimes if you are out and about not even thinking about your work, an idea comes to mind and it just clicks. You can always go back to your old work and keep making things from the same series- over time you change, and so will your work. Put your first piece next to your most recent and see how things have changed.
In the end the studio visit to see Andrea Wagner’s work was a great experience and very inspiring. Please check out her website www.andreawagner.nl to see more images of her work
images courtesy of snagmetalsmith.org
A recent BFA recipient from Pratt Institute, Jenna Pierson is inspired by exploring different cultures. Her current work focuses on Kilwa Kisiwani, an ancient African kingdom known as the city of gold. Because resources such as stone weren’t available to build Kilwa Kisiwani, it was constructed using gold, coral reef, and rock from the sea. This kingdom inspired Pierson to design jewelry that juxtaposes materials that our society considers precious with materials that are considered to be of low value. Her goal is to change our perception of a discarded object, turning it into something that is treasured. Pierson’s materials include bottle caps, coral rock and shell, gold leaf, rope, and sterling silver. With plans to launch her jewelry career in the Netherlands, Pierson will continue to explore new cultures to inspire her future work.
Porous Ruins Bracelet (2013) from my most recent collection, Porous Gold | Precious Ruins. This collection will be for sale in October at LOOT: MAD about Jewelry