Wearable Sculpture: A Personal Statement
After several incarnations, ultimately I have become a sculptor. Indeed, even though these most intricate works are small enough to be worn, they are still each one-of-a-kind, made one at a time, by hand. Starting with metal sheet, I hammer chisels into the surface from both sides to insist the material takes the form I envision. From there, I further develop the design using enamels, chemical patina, set stones or inlay.
Everything seems to go back to my childhood. My drawing, and my inspiration. Those years running barefoot through meadows collecting weed flowers, picking Japanese beetles off grandmother's roses, and raising tadpoles have formed a core of images that find their way into my jewelry. Every piece comes from an experience or memory.
I grew up in the western Pennsylvania town of Coraopolis outside Pittsburgh, perched on the banks of the Ohio River. At that time, it was surrounded by woodlands, meadows, and rocky streams. In the old-fashioned tradition of 'it takes a village', my brother and I were brought up "free-range style", exploring the countryside, wading after crayfish, digging for arrowheads. Out of school, there was no use for shoes from May to October. Grandmother's garden, in town, served as summer school. Rainy days meant experimenting with my mother's extensive cache of art supplies.
In fifth grade, age nine, I was selected to represent my school in the Pittsburgh Carnegie Museum young artists program, attending every Saturday through Junior High School. In Senior High School I was invited to advance to life drawing and sculpture classes at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) which I did until graduation.
In fact, throughout school my artistic abilities were recognized, including the honor of several Scholastic Merit Awards.
In addition to the intensive training received throughout grammar school, I graduated from Juniata College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Clothing Design with a minor in Studio Art.
First I went to work for a major department store and then a boutique chain as a lingerie buyer. The jobs were fun, but the pay was so low it was like working for a discount on clothes.
So, I went back to night school and got another degree in accounting. Wasn't it Allen Saunders who said, "Life is what happens while you’re making other plans"? Well, I'm not sure I had a plan, anyway, and life just happened.
When asked 'when did you know you were an artist?', I recall one Christmas in the late 80s working as a corporate auditor at Dana Corporation. As an auditor I spent much of my time traveling to company locations for weeks at a stretch. There hadn't been an opportunity to select a Christmas present for my husband and time was running short. Even though I was on another business trip I located an arts supply store and, in the evenings, produced a pair of drawings I thought he might like. Christmas morning, he unwrapped the surprise, not noticing the signature. Gosh, I hadn't realized it had been longer than our marriage since I had picked up a pencil or paintbrush, and he didn't know my art. When he asked where I got the drawings, I shocked him with my answer. He told me then that I was wasting my talent on accounting and needed to plan for change.
In the early 90s, I retired from corporate accounting. They have no appreciation for creativity ... so I revived my favorite activity from kindergarten. I drew horses. By then, my husband and I were living in Wayne, Illinois, outside Chicago where fox hunting and other equestrian pursuits were active. I began offering services as a portrait painter: pets and people. And, to my endless surprise, there was a market. Over the next twelve years, I traveled showing my work at national and international equestrian events.
In the mid-90s, I opened my own portrait studio/gallery 'Your Place or Mine' in St Charles, IL. By the time it closed, and we retired to Florida, I had produced hundreds of paintings and drawings, in oil, watercolor, pastel, colored pencil, graphite and silverpoint, that hang throughout North America and Europe.
After caring for my elderly parents in Florida, I returned to creativity in the form of jewelry making. I started out stringing beads, I suppose, but having a shop online soon drove me to do more. After ten years, now working with artisan techniques in silversmithing, goldsmithing, chasing and repousse, enameling, engraving, my work is finding success.
Since re-imagining my art as jewelry, I have taken technical classes from many instructors. If I'm to become a master at a craft, then I need to learn from a master. So, my teachers include Karen L Cohen, Anne Havel and international repoussé master Valentin Yotkov among many others. And, I've taught drawing for adults, oil painting and enameling.
While showing my portraiture in the earlier years of my career, I was selected by Equus magazine as one of the top 50 artists working at the time. Twice, my paintings were selected for the cover of the Chronicle of the Horse magazine. Currently, I've been invited to include a feature project in the second edition of the popular book The Art of Fine Enameling for publication in the fall of 2018.
The major influence in my jewelry design is my art training. When a painter decides to make jewelry, she takes all she knows about creating images into this new medium. Yes, painting secrets translate well into silver and gold. Principles of composition, color theory, draftsmanship are all relevant. Add to that an understanding of the third dimension.
I'm in love with beautiful things. Nature, culture, people who are kind. It's a personal philosophy. Gardens bring me happiness, so I bring that joy indoors with flowers. My closet contains a few good classic pieces instead of hundreds of trendy fashions. My home decor is simple, accented with colorful finds while traveling, or handed through family. Every piece speaks to me and for me. It's the same with my jewelry. These pieces are the punctuation of a statement. My jewelry describes me before I speak a word. It should do the same for the wearer.
I make only one of a kind pieces, because I believe they are precious objects. In a world where printers can pop out anything from a high-rise building to a new left ear, a piece of art made completely by hand using basic tools is borderline endangered. Today, the ultimate in luxury is exclusivity. Pieces that are one of a kind, made one at a time, by hand, are as exclusive as you can find.
Flowers, birds, bugs and motifs seen on travels grace my work. Living in tropical Florida has had a profound impact on the current prevalence of floral images. How can you not be overtaken with floral themes when everywhere you look here is another blooming plant!
Travel of any kind is an anticipated thrill. If anyone says the words 'road trip', I'm in the car faster than the family dog. An opportunity to see new things, new people, eat new foods is a real treat. And, if it's a genealogy research trip? That becomes the definition of total fun!
Appreciation from my customers comes from all corners of the world. Customers hail from as far as Australia, Israel, Italy, Scotland as well as throughout the US. Comments sent include: "Outstanding jewelry. Outstanding service! My wife was so thrilled to receive this necklace. It is absolutely lovely," and "I cannot explain how exquisite and positively beautiful these two bracelets are. Your craftsmanship and care that goes in to each design; the color choice and the stones themselves are exquisite. I absolutely love them."
I am dedicated to producing unique wearable sculptural art to enrich the life of each woman. I believes jewelry is ornament, statement, conversation, bulletin, shield ... And every time a piece is worn, its story grows.