Wednesday, June 30, 2010

174/365 nipple ring

Nipple ring pendant. I woke up this morning knowing I had to make this and I have no idea what that may portend. Copper and sterling silver, it will soon be listed in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

173/365 prehnite

This is my first attempt at fabricating this style of ring, which I have always loved. I had no idea what I was doing, and may well have gone about it backwards. The bezel got pretty deformed when I forged the band into shape, but it all came together somehow at the end. Sterling silver and prehnite.

woa challenge: jekyll & hyde

Made for the EtsyMetal Work of Art Challenge, a reversible pendant based on Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Sterling silver, copper, brass, 18k gold, indicolite tourmaline.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

woa challenge: electronics

Call me Orange, or Orange you Going to Call Me?
Copper, sterling silver, 18k gold, cell phone keypad, spessartine garnet.

Made for the EtsyMetal Work of Art Challenge to make a piece of jewelry incorporating recycled electronics. Work of Art is a new Bravo series similar to Project Runway for visual artists. I have had this piece in mind for about a year and finally spent FIVE HOURS making it today. The rivets are 18k pink gold. I have been in a creative slump/funk for the past few weeks and these WOA challenges are helping me to get my mojo back.

Friday, June 25, 2010

woa challenge: portraits

I made this necklace for the EtsyMetal Work of Art Challenge. Work of Art is a new Bravo series similar to Project Runway for visual artists. The theme this week is portraits and I was thrilled to be paired with Norsola Johnson, whose work I admire tremendously.

So I did a little research, did you know that Norsola plays cello in the post-rock band, Godspeed You! Black Emperor? How incredibly cool is that?
In fact, I was speaking to a friend on the phone about it last night and he said, "Oh sure, Godspeed". Really, he is way more hip than I am.

Norsola is a very skilled box maker, and in particular I love her Sacred Fire Sacred Heart triptych:

Sacred Fire Sacred Heart by Norsola Johnson

I was initially going to put the cello in one of my shadowboxes, and then decided to use a frame to suggest a box, and now that the piece is finished the frame reminds me of a doorway or window. The stars and galaxies are recurrent themes in Norsola's work (and one of the band's record labels is Constellation), so I added the natural white zircon.

sterling silver, copper, white zircon

You can find Godspeed You! Black Emperor videos on YouTube, this is one of my favorites. I believe it's the second part of one long piece, the first part is here. The music reminds me of Zappa or Syd Barrett in the way it takes the listener on a journey, like a stream of consciousness. I love it.

Antennas to Heaven - Part II

Oh, I forgot to mention that Norsola is also a published graffiti artist, she is one talented lady.

Here is the piece that she made for me, all I can say is I'm not worthy. It is exquisite and amazingly crafted. OMG. Holy sh*t.

Wit by Norsola Johnson

Norsola wrote, "
I was lucky to be paired up with Thomasin Durgin who's work I love...The first word that sprang to mind when thinking of her was: wit. There is so much of it in her work... I see wit as stemming from perceptivity and reflection... to be witty is in many ways to be a mirror... to succinctly and humourously reflect back what one perceives... to reflect (to think), and reflect back. And so the idea of mirrors came up... I also think this photo of her is awesome, so I had to use it in the portrait piece... and lastly, I'm a big fan of Tomi's use of texture and copper, so I thought I should incorporate these elements in her portrait as well.. The end result was the "Wit" locket pendant. Sterling silver, copper, mirror, paper. "

I am honored, humbled, and amazed. And the best thing is that she and I are exchanging pieces, yay!!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

etsy shop update

I just added two fun new necklaces to my etsy shop.

172/365 botswana agate

This used to be a pendant, but it didn't hang correctly, so I removed the stone and made it into a ring. Botswana agate and sterling silver.

the necklace

171/365 copper clay

Still playing around with the copper clay, I formed this over an ovoid shape I had made out of cork clay. Once it was dry I carved the holes with ball and setting burrs and fired it with a torch, burning the cork away. I have had no luck soldering the fired copper or shibuichi clay to sterling silver, after three attempts I finally epoxied this one together.

Monday, June 21, 2010

170/365 echo ring

This is not a new design, I made it for a very patient friend. When I made the first one like this, Jaqki Withycombe called it my echo ring, and I love that. Copper and sterling silver.

158-169/365 apoxie sculpt

My neighbor lent me some Apoxie Sculpt to play with when he saw me out in the backyard making model magic rings. This material is great, it sticks to just about anything and after it sets up can be sanded, carved, and filed very easily. I painted some, colored two with sharpies, and left some the grey color of the apoxie sculpt.

carved with a ball burr and file

carved with a ball burr and colored with sharpie markers

carved with a ball burr and colored with a sharpie marker

157/365 premature pinecone

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

my etsy shop lives!

I have sorely neglected my etsy shop for nearly a year now, tonight I finally made time to list some new items, more will be added thoughout the course of the week. Here are some of the new pieces, I will be listing quite a few RAD rings as the year continues to unfold.

am I a metal artist?

Untitled, 2006. Wood, paint, wire, more than 2000 paper clips.

Today the Handmade Division is blogging on the topic, "Do you consider yourself to be only a (metal) artist?". An interesting question and one I've been thinking about lately as I become more involved with various metalsmithing communities online.

I do not think of myself primarily as a metal artist or metalsmith, I'm a conceptual artist who happens to be working with metal. My MFA is in Fiber Art and I worked with textiles for 15 years before moving to mixed media, and eventually metal three years ago. Perhaps I will become interested in painting or ceramics one day, I have no idea. I can't imagine limiting myself to one medium for the rest of my life.

Front View, 2000. Canvas, thread, glass beads.

I do not consider any of my wearable, everyday jewelry pieces to be art objects. I think of them as design exercises, as well as a means for me to support myself while improving my craftsmanship and metalsmithing skills. That body of work appeals to my interest in the process over the product and is firmly based in craft and craftsmanship.

Necklace, 2010. Sterling silver, copper, brass.

My conceptual work is my art, these objects are primarily about the expression of ideas; craftsmanship, while still very important, is always secondary to this expression.

Don't!, 2010. Nickel silver, sterling, copper, aluminum door bolt.

I really like working this way, moving back and forth between design and art. For years after grad school I put a lot of pressure on myself to make nothing but conceptual work, which is hard for me because my art tends toward sociopolitical commentary, and that's difficult to conjure up - it has to come from my gut, organically. Making wearable, design-based pieces takes away the pressure to produce and allows me to remain happily creative without added stress. I sell enough of my everyday jewelry that I don't have to worry about making money with my art, so those objects can remain authentically mine and aren't subject to the vagaries and influences of the market. It's a nice arrangement.

Please visit the other members of the Handmade Division to read their views:

Andes Cruz
Jewelry by Natsuko

Lisa Hopkins Design

Abhaya Fibers
ArtJewel Designs

Susan Moloney

Bill Martin
Tamra Gentry
Maureen BZ (Cosmo’s Moon)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

is jewelry functional?

Is jewelry functional?

I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, as it relates to the art vs. craft issue (don't worry, I'm not gonna beat that dead horse). I think an object needs to be functional to be considered craft, and I'm not sure that personal adornment qualifies as a function. If it does, then aren't paintings made in part for wall adornment? Now it sounds silly.

Or is the function of jewelry to interact with the body and become a vehicle of self-expression for the wearer? Does that make it fashion?

Certainly jewelry has had many functions throughout history. Beads have been used as currency for thousands of years, and in many societies a family's wealth is still largely kept in jewelry made from precious metals and gems. In some cultures the ruling classes show their status and power by draping the body with jewels, in fact it is only relatively recently that the lowest castes in India have been allowed to possess fine diamonds.

Here in the US people display wealth and status by driving big cars and wearing big rocks. But this discussion is not about the plethora of mass-produced jewelry made for stone transport - it's about unique, artistic pieces made by individual artisans. Nor am I referring to conceptual jewelry, which I consider art that is unconcerned with function.

It seems to me that craft objects are functional in a way that creates action in and on the world around us. We fill a bowl with fruit, we sit in a chair, we use a knife to dice zucchini. Where does jewelry fit in?

*6/14/10 I posted a link to this discussion on Facebook and had some very interesting responses, here are a few of my favorites:

"Jewelry is functional only if you can open a beer bottle with it."

The iron bangle 'Kara' that all Sikh people wear on their wrist is perfect for popping the top of an frosty bottle of Guru Nanak beer... also In India, warrior Sikhs are still seen wearing several karas of large sizes, designed to be used as a weapon in hand to hand combat."

"Lots of African peoples used to have pieces of jewelry that served as both weapon and decoration. Try knife-blade bangles - OUCH"

"I think jewelry is just a medium, like paint. It depends what you do with it. Paint a wall, paint your face, paint a canvas. Same with adornments, the form can be used for anything from the most conformist trendy fashion statement to artful sculpture...and everything in between. I love that it's primordial. People don't even know why they feel an impulse to adorn themselves. They just do."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

156/365 repulso roach

"Who is that masked Blattaria?"
"Why, it's The Amazing Repulso Roach, come to save the day!"

Repulso is an American Cockroach, or Palmetto, which are thought to have originated in North Africa and brought to the Americas during the early slave trade.

A cockroach can hold it's breath for up to 40 minutes.

Some female cockroaches mate once and are pregnant for the rest of their lives.

A cockroach can live for up to a month without its head.

The world's largest roach (in South America) is six inches long with a one-foot wingspan.

Male cockroaches transfer sperm to females in a package called a spermatophore. Some males cover the package in a protein-rich wrapping that the female can eat to obtain nutrients to raise her young.

Cockroaches can run up to 3 km/hr (1.8 m/hr).

There are estimated to be 4,000 - 5,000 species of cockroaches in the world. Of these, only 25 to 30 are considered pests. The rest remain a part of the Earth's fauna, such as the Giant Burrowing Cockroach which are clean, slow moving, and are sometimes kept as pets.

Don't worry, my cat killed him.

Here's a YouTube video of a giant burrowing cockroach kept by a family in Australia: