Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ree Gallagher: Nests, Orbits and the Moon!

Ree Gallagher

Orbit Series
Moon Series

Nest Series

I found Ree Gallagher's work while checking out the GFS Craft Show participating artists web page. The event took place in early March and included some of the finest jewelry design artists I have seen.

Ree lives in Chadd's Ford, PA--Andrew Wyeth country--but was first introduced to jewelry while studying in Florence.

Actually, in undergrad I was a studio arts/ painting major.I travelled to Florence to study painting and stumbled into the jewelry program.I loved to buy jewelry, so I decided to try my luck at designing my own work! Italy seems like so long ago now, but I am definitely influenced by contemporary European work, be it by Italiana, Germans, Swedes, Finns.

I am influenced by Tone Vigeland's jewelry and Arlene Fisch. I love the sculpture work of Eva Hesse. I'm also very influenced by tribal and ancient cultures' designs and handwork.

Tell us about your inspiration for your "nest", "spiral" "orbit" and "moonrock" designs?
My work grew out of a love of material.Coming from a painter's background, aluminum enticed me with its color, but won me over with its properties. The malleability of this material, has allowed me many luxuries during the creation process. This work (NEST.series, SPIRAL.series, DISC.series, HOOP.series) is either handwoven or hand spun under pressure to create the forms I desire. From there, further ornamentation and embellishment is woven into the forms or pieces are brought together to create further landscapes. My metalwork (ORBIT.series, MOONROCK.series) allows me to be totally free and less precise. My aluminum work requires incredible time, attention to detail, focus and tedious intricate work.My metalwork allows me to let loose more and bring the beauty of the metal's properties to work as they may. I don't fight those pieces to make them perfect, I let them have a life of their own.
Where does your inspiration for space-like jewelry come from?

I suppose it is in releasing my need to control a piece to the universe. I find beauty in creating these pieces comes when they find a home and very often I'm surprised by the home (i.e. from sixteen year olds to sixty year olds from all walks of life and styles!)

What do you find most challenging about balancing the creative work with having a successful business?
The business end of things takes up so much of your time so the challenge is to set aside time for each aspect of the creation and business process. I believe this is one of the hardest jobs out there. You not only must conceive of an interesting idea, you have to engineer and plan the creation, find and order supplies, determine the cost and feasibility it will sell, determine your wholesale and retail prices, manage a shop and/or store, enter shows, do photography, graphic design, sales, accounting, collections, PR and marketing, shipping, etc. you name it!Never a dull moment. Must be a great "multi-tasker" !

What advice do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

Don't give up.Take your designs to the public as often as possible to see what sells, what the public thinks of the work, how it hangs, the size, price, etc.

Ree's unusual, one-of-a-kind work was chosen for the Friedrich Becker Prize Exhibition and her limited production work has been featured in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, NY's New Museum of Contemporary Art and New Orlean's Ogden Museum.

It was a pleasure meeting Ree!

Thanks for stopping by...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hilary Hachey: Creating Beauty With Contrast and Opposition

Hilary Hachey on the Eastern Shore

"Bauhaus" Bracelet--2005 Niche Award Winner

"Avocado" Necklace--2008 Niche Award Finalist

I found Hilary Hachey's work through metalcyberspace. I was instantly drawn to her intricate craftsmanship and use of repetition--mostly of interesting box shapes--to create sophisticated, stunning pieces. Working out of her studio in Baltimore, Hilary has been recognized by prestigious awards for many of her designs, most notably her Bauhaus Bracelet which won the 2005 Niche Award and Avocado necklace which was a 2008 Niche Award Finalist. Here's what Hilary has to say about her work:

I want my pieces to work as a whole and stand on their own as visually interesting. I am a minimalist. I focus on clean lines and simple designs. I sometimes describe my work as "architectonic", meaning I focus on the well-built over the mass produced, among other things. For some reason, my brain is wired so I find the repetition of forms to be very pleasing....who knows why? But, I also like to create tension in a piece, so it is pleasing to view again and again--not just once.

Where do you find your inspiration and what do you do when it is in short supply?

Wow, if I could answer that......... It's all a mystery to me and I hope it doesn't run out.

You mention that you previously worked in other mediums but once you started metalsmithing "it just made sense".

I took a lot of studio courses in college and before that in high school. In college, I focused a lot on clay but I never really got anywhere with it. When I took my first metals class, after college (at the Maryland Institute College of Art), it clicked for me. I didn't feel like I had to write down the procedures because it all seemed so logical. It was like opening my eyes and seeing it all laid out in front of me--like, "of course that's how you do it!"

You appear at various Fine Art Shows, doing about two a month. How do you find the contrast between the long days of set up, standing in a booth, tear down type work to sitting in a studio creating jewelry?

I love going to shows and meeting my customers. It is great to get the response of those who wear my work, especially when I return to the same show year after year. I used to be so afraid that the customer would get home and realize they'd made a horrible mistake; but instead, they come to tell me how much they love it and how they are constantly complimented when wearing it. Also, it is really nice to get out of the studio and socialize with other artists. I don't mind the heavy work of set-up and standing for hours on end, although it can be a grind. I see artists much older than I am, and I wonder how they do it.

How do you balance the creativity of the work with the business of being in business?

I am a very logical, orderly type of person. Keeping records and doing office work isn't a problem for me. Also, I grew up watching my father run his business and it never occurred to me that other people had employers. (Of course, I mean when I was little.) I guess I learned a lot without even realizing. I love running a business.

How do you find the high price of precious metals and the soft economy is affecting the jewelry design business?

Well, it's tough for everyone. I think there is a danger of some of the less experienced and smaller designers fading away.

I'm a huge fan of Hilary's work! As I begin my metalsmithing journey, I am constantly inspired by accomplished artists such as Hilary Hachey!

Hilary's next show will be the Columbus Arts Festival in early June.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Naked-Jewelry Hits The Road!

Yours Truly in Naked-Jewelry Booth

Red and Green Garnet Wire Crochet Cuff Bracelet
Sterling Silver Wire Crochet Pearl Necklace

This blog isn't about me or my jewelry design company, Naked-Jewelry, but every once in a while when I hit a milestone, I want to take a moment and share. This past weekend, I did my first art/craft fair. What an experience that was! To prepare, I exhausted my computer with all that I ordered online...from a canopy to folding tables and chairs...even one of those little portable credit card machines and a battery operated fan. This list seemed endless! My wonderful husband, Tom, got in the spirit and helped me transport, put up and tear down this extravaganza and while we both saw some tweaks for next time, we were pretty happy with the result and decided that we compared quite favorably to the competition! And, we even made some sales! Yahoo! My hand wire-crochet designs, especially the cuff bracelets seem to be the hot sellers so I'm thinking of other ways to extend that idea further. By the way, in getting the booth together, I followed the advice from Rena Klingenberg's Ultimate Guide to Your Profitable Jewelry Booth, which was invaluable in its detail and recommendations from years of experience. I welcome your feedback on your own experience as to what works and what doesn't hit the mark.
Thank you for your ongoing support of all the truly incredible jewelry designers featured here. I'm most definitely still a newbie, but am learning a tremendous amount from these talented people.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tamra Gentry: From Science to Art

Tamra Gentry

Perusing through metalcyberspace again, I found a relative newcomer to the field, Tamra Gentry of Ag Jewelry Design . I was struck not only by the quality of her work, but also by her explanation of her love of the work. Her words, expressed so much better than my own, resonated with me, reflecting my own reasons for the love of creation in this medium. On her website she says:

The beauty of my designs highlights all that is precious and valuable—our planet. In addition to the work of my caring and skilled hands, so much science and history went into the production of the colorful stones and metals we see before our eyes.

Incorporating science into her art comes easily to Tamra since she majored in physics in college. In fact, her company name, Ag Jewelry Design, uses the Periodic Table symbol for silver, Ag in her logo. Her website explanation:

I came up with the idea to use its Periodic Table representation as a logo because I find physics and chemistry fascinating. I knew that I really wanted to link this, via my logo, directly with what I do and who I am as a jewelery artist. I am also very awe-struck by our planet and its composition, its uniqueness and beauty—and its fragility. The Periodic Table is one of our many great equalizers on both micro and macro levels.

As jewelers we are quite fortunate to have treasures such as silver, gold, copper, platinum, precious and semi-precious gemstones as our canvases for artistic works. The logo is a tribute to and talking point for the science behind our beautiful natural resources.

I asked Tamra about her transition from physics to jewelry design.

Growing up, I was heavily involved in creative play—sewing, writing, classical piano, making jewelry, etc. But, creative play was just that for me—play. It never occurred to me that I could pursue any of my creative activities as career options. My focus was always on what I thought to be the more “practical” route, so I originally went to college as a business major with the intent of eventually becoming a corporate attorney.

Despite having laid out a course to go the “safe” route, by the time I graduated high school I was quite an accomplished pianist, and I still fantasized a lot about fashion design. It still didn’t occur to me to pursue either as a career!

Majoring in business didn’t work out well, as I found the whole notion of conforming to traditional corporate culture totally unacceptable for me. So after my first year in college, I changed my major to physics. Well, what did I want to go and do that for? I didn’t like it when I was forced to learn it as part of my major because with all of the classes I was taking at the time, I never felt like I had the opportunity soak in what I was learning. As such, I grew to love physics only after I graduated and studied it on my own. However, all the while I still felt the pull of my creative and artistic sides.

At some point the light bulb did come on with regards to pursuing a career in the arts. However, because I had already devoted so much time and effort to science, I was torn—and as a result I oscillated back and forth between the arts and the sciences for a long time. I felt that if I pursued one, I would have to forsake the other altogether—and I was really scared of “missing out.”

Long story shortened, after making and giving jewelry as Mother’s Day gifts one year, I got hooked. I became really fascinated with the many different ways in which jewelry could be made. I began with beading and wire wrapping, then I moved on to PMC clay, and from there metal fabrication. I feel so deeply in love with jewelry making and came to the conclusion that “this is it!” For the first time ever, it felt right, and it felt natural.

A lot of jewelry fabrication involves chemistry, physics, geology, and the like. With an undergraduate degree in physics, not only were many of these concepts familiar to me, I found their expression through art to be a fun and initially unexpected way to maintain continuity between my past and current undertakings.

What about jewelry design especially fascinates you?

Three specific things actually: I love the variety of processes that can be used to make jewelry—the learning potential is endless, I love the fact that there is an unlimited number of materials available, and I love that there is so much science and history in the field.

The three processes I find most fascinating are mokume gane, which is the ancient Japanese process of simultaneous diffusion bonding of several sheets of metal at one time, and those sheets are then rolled out and patterned to resemble a “wood grain”; granulation, which is the ancient Greek/Etruscan process of fusing tiny metal spheres to a metal backplate; and married metals, which is the process of combining different types of sheet metals (e.g., silver and copper) via soldering.

I find all three of these processes and their histories fascinating. When done correctly, the results can be beautiful. Not to mention, each technique has its own challenges, and for me, I really love getting into the processes and solving issues to try to make things work to achieve beautiful results.

You have said that you love running your own business--what do you find is the greatest challenge between making the pieces and handling the business of the business?

Handling the business has always been the easy part for me. The business part comes quickly and naturally. With regard to the art-side, I’ve found that I am subject to my own whims and inspirations. It’s hard for me to sit down and make a piece for the sake of selling it. I don’t like the extent to which I sometimes have to coax out the creativity and art. When the creativity comes though, I’m usually pretty pleased with the results.

I find my inspiration all over the place—I’m like a sponge in that regard. Many design ideas evolve from ones I’ve had before. However, when I’m doing work with what I call “art stones,” for example Wave Hill agate, the inspiration comes from the stone itself—the colors, patterns, shape of the stone, etc. Even then, spontaneity is subject to taking over and overriding my original design thoughts. Sometimes I try to plan around a particular theme to see where it takes me.

How would you describe your style?

I’m still trying to “find my voice.” As such, I’m not sure I’ve really yet developed a particular style. What I feel a strong affinity towards one minute changes with the discovery of another process or procedure—or with the evolution of an old design idea.

Tamra's passion and vision is so apparent that she seems destined to find continued success as she works to "find her voice". Her work can be seen on her website and through Esty. Galleries and shows are on her near horizon.

I so enjoyed learning more about Tamra's point of view, especially regarding the privilege of working with precious materials from our fragile and beautiful planet. I wish Tamra great success!

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Karen Klinefelter: Minimal Magnificence!

Karen Klinefelter in her Studio

Mesh Pendant

Circle of Spirit Rings

Thai Katachi Pendant

Thai Cube Earrings

During my early TV career in the 70's, I lived in Philadelphia and got to know the Germantown area very well. Recently, I stumbled upon the website for the Germantown Friends School Craft Fair which took place this past February/March. I thought the level of artists of who participated in the event was spectacular, including Karen Klinefelter of Klinefelter Studio in Burlington, Vermont.

Karen's sample image in the GFS Craft Fair artist gallery is a stunning pendant which it turns out comes from her "mesh" series. I asked her about it:

I found the original rusted metal mesh piece in the road while I was running one day. I loved it for what it was and was taking it home to frame. Then I wondered what it might look like cast in Sterling or 18k. Once I made the mold and cast the first pieces, I was in love! The rust on the original piece, provided a texture to the mold that when cast, left a beautiful finish in both the silver and gold. I've used the mesh in many different designs. The tricky part is not to disturb the raw casting while I add other elements , such as high polished pieces or little diamonds.

I enjoy simple things....perhaps it's the alignment of a stand of trees in the woods, or a particularly interesting rise and run of a set of architecturally designed steps. I see things and wonder, "could I translate that into metal?" and "what would it look like in the abstract and at a jewelry scale?"

You have said that you also get inspiration from Third World countries. What have you found in these places that affect your style?

Most of my third world travel has been in Asia. Nepal is my favorite place on earth. I've also traveled in India, Thailand, Haiti and Chile. Most of the cultures I've experienced have ancient aesthetics that are rich in color and pattern. They tend to be very busy..and probably somewhat the antithesis of my minimalist designs. However, the lifestyles of the people who live in the more rural villages in these countries are very minimal by necessity. They live very modestly and sparsely. Most of them have very little and yet they have faith and value for what they do have. They inspire my "less is more" design sense.

I think you are as much a story teller as a jewelry seem to have mastered enhancing the appeal of your pieces with the story behind them. How important is that to how customers see your pieces?

I think people enjoy hearing stories about the inspiration for pieces they are interested in. I know I enjoy telling them. It's a way for me to connect with someone who may end up owning a piece of jewelry that I created. I like selling at retail shows for that reason. I like to meet my customers.....make sure my jewelry is going to a good home. I find when I tell the stories, I get just as many great touching stories back from my customers. I enjoy that connection and getting glimpses into my customers lives just as much as selling them a piece of jewelry.

On your website, you say you hope to "make every one's favorite pair of earrings"...tell us about that.
I myself am not a big jewelry person. Life in Vermont is very casual to say the least. Out of habit, I often wear the same jewelry day after day. I also have many friends who say the same thing. They find pieces they like and stick with them. It gives me great pleasure when I hear that earrings that someone bought from me are their favorite pair! I relate to that and it's a great complement!

Karen also creates rings which are sold specifically to women. She calls them Circle of the Spirit rings. I asked her about the significance of these pieces...

I have a degree in Psychology and years ago worked as a counselor for women with eating disorders. The common denominator among my clients was a lack of self esteem and a disconnect from one's physical self. I was making jewelry part time then and decided to create a talisman to remind women of their innate strength and wisdom. A very talented friend of mine actually carved the wax. It was originally commitment rings for a couple. But I saw great potential as a ring to remind ourselves that we are whole and complete as we are. It has since been a source of incredible strength and joy to me as the rings have a life of their own. I think one day I should collect the wonderful, courageous, and sometimes heartbreaking stories I have heard about women who purchase the rings for themselves , friends,and loved ones. The Circle of the Spirit rings have supported women through divorce, cancer, and grief of many kinds, they have also celebrated babies, graduations and coming of age transitions. I love that the circle has widened to the point where I don't know half of the stories.......they are happening as we speak.

You work in a studio environment around other creative people....this is an unusual arrangement since jewelry making is so solitary for many....what are the advantages of being around other people as you work?

I have the best of both worlds. I have my own studio space within another business, which happens to be a custom lighting and metalwork shop. They are not only creative fun people, they also work with metal. Their pieces are of a very different scale, but we share ideas and I often look at their work for inspiration if I find myself "stuck" in a design process. The day to day interaction with these folks who are now friends is also nurturing.

What advise do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

I think it's very valuable experience to work for someone else in the field for awhile. It's a wonderful business, but there are many different ways to market your work. It's good to know that, and to have some exposure to that. My business plan is constantly evolving and I think that I can maintain my faith during tough times because I know there are so many avenues to explore. And also be mindful that you need to be connected enough to your work to remain true to your design sense, and separate enough from it to not take it personally when something you've tried business wise isn't working. You need to be flexible.

Karen's work can be found at retail craft shows (check her website for the schedule) and the local Burlington, VT Artist Market this summer. She also has pieces at the Village Green Gallery in Weston VT, and Grannis Gallery in Burlington, VT.

I love Karen's work! There is something simple yet so radiant about her pieces that they stay with you long after the images are gone. I also love that Karen seems to have a balanced life, finding joy in her life and creations. I wish her tremendous success and further happiness!
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vote now in the Couture Town&Country "Primary" Design Awards!

Jewelry Designer, Jeanne Johngren forwarded me this notice about the
Town&Country Couture Design Awards. Jeanne was profiled recently in this blog and is nominated in the "Best of Newcomers" category. I also noticed that another person profiled in this blog, Todd Reed, is nominated in the "Best of Natural Color Diamonds" category. So take a moment and vote for your favorites! Here's the scoop:

This year, the Town&Country Couture Design Awards takes the vote out to the
people, with our first ever Design Awards hosted online.

Your vote counts! The top vote getters in each category move on to the final
round of voting held at Couture at the Wynn Las Vegas, May 28 – June 2.

You will need to enter your email address (as that is how they are verifying
that people only vote once.)

It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s a great opportunity to see some of the
industry’s best designs before you get to Las Vegas. So Vote online today by
clicking this link, or visiting the website – – and
feel free to forward this email to your colleagues, friends, and those
discriminating people you know who appreciate fine jewelry design.

Thanks in advance for casting your vote and we’ll see you and the winners in Las

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rick Hamilton: Creating Timeless Beauty on Martha's Vineyard

Rick Hamilton and Shadow

Petrified Wood and Gold Ring

Peruvian Opal and Moonstone Earrings

Tourmaline Bracelet

I found Rick Hamilton's work while searching through metalcyberspace. His pieces struck me as simple and classic with a flair. I was interested to learn from his website that he works on Martha's Vineyard and for many years, was part of a group of jewelry designers who shared a studio. For so many artists, their work is done as a solitary endeavor so I asked about this unusual arrangement:

The studio environment lasted for 10 years. The advantages were numerous, shared rent and utilities except phone, people covering the studio.Lots of feedback and interaction over design and sharing of techniques. I still work with several of my former studio mates, I did the models for Beth McElhiney's line last year. One of her pieces won the silver division of the Saul Bell Award.

To work on Martha's Vineyard seems a bit like paradise on earth. Is that true? What inspiration do you draw from the area?

Wow, what a great question! I've lived here for almost 30 years, after 11 years in various cities. The Vineyard is a great community, and it really is inspiring. We have many fundraising events in the summer. The Possible Dreams Auction, where for years Art Buchwald was the auctioneer, included things like an afternoon sail with Walter Cronkite, or a song and sandwiches with Carly Simon (one year split between two couples who each paid $26,000). I've been a mentor to 3 kids in the community, the most recent one is designing a watch line as an avocation. At 20, he may be the world's youngest watch designer. The watches retail between $5000-7500.

What was your path to jewelry design/creation?

I was an engineering student at Ga Tech, and met up with a mentor who was a jeweler. I helped to start a crafts Cooperative in Atlanta in 1970. I later took a course at Ga State with Richard MaFong. I moved to Boston in 1971 and within a year was hired, along with my younger brother, to make models and design jewelry for a factory in Pawtucket, RI.

To me, your pieces have a sculptural quality. How would you describe your style?

I like to think of my work as classic- something that is timeless. My inspiration comes from several different areas- Streamline is one aspect. Asian art, especially Japanese metal work is another inspiration. Roman period jewelry has also played a part. When I was living in Boston, the area's museum's collections provided an influence as well.

What are you trying to achieve with each piece you design?

Frequently I am working by commission, I am designing within the framework that the client provides, so, ultimately I am trying to achieve customer satisfaction. It can be very difficult- sometimes finding out what the client wants is harder than designing and making the piece.

What advice do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

Well, I have inspired a couple of my apprentices to become jewelers. My advice would be cross-pollination; study as many techniques with as many different metalsmiths as you can afford. Take workshops, buy the tools, practice, and always listen to your clients. You have to believe in yourself and your work.

Where can people see and find your work?

Right now, at Claudia, a jewelry store in Edgartown, MA and Skylight Jewelers in Boston. There are some other shops I do specialty work for as well. This summer I am part of a group show of men's jewelry that opens on the 5th of July and again on the 16th of August at Pik-Nik, a gallery in Oak Bluffs.

From my vantage point as I fight daily traffic in frantic Los Angeles, Rick's life making beautiful jewelry on Martha's Vineyard seems to be just about as perfect as it gets. I imagine it's not quite that fabulous, but it sure looks great from the outside looking in! It was a pleasure getting to know Rick!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Julie Glassman: Extraordinary Enamels!

Julie Glassman In Her Studio

A Higher Ground

Love Is Not Constant

Hot In The City

Spring Tree

I love to take a stroll through metalcyberspace from time to time to see what the best-of-the best are doing in jewelry design. This is a magnificent website for seeing some of the most interesting work in the world. And, it's where I stumbled upon Julie Glassman's work. I opened her website, Julie Glassman Fine Art Jewelry and was stopped in my tracks. WOW! The color, humor and uniqueness of her work is something special indeed. One of her specialties is her series of Byzantine enameled landscapes. Here's what Julie had to say:
My landscapes are actually my interpretations of places I have been. It is how my minds eye sees these places and I have a yearning to infuse that onto glass and canvas. The Hopi people that live on the mesas in Arizona don't allow people to take pictures of their sacred place so a lot of their art has paintings or drawings of where they live. I like to think of my landscape series as a memoir rather then taking a photo. My inspiration comes from nature, hiking and life experiences. It is actually like a sixth sense. I wish I could say that my visions and ideas had a down time but I have always been just the opposite. I have too many visions and ideas but not enough time!

With Byzantine enameling an enamel jewel is created by painting and firing various layers into a fine silver or gold cup with many wires. It is then sanded down, high fired and set into a piece of jewelry. Most enamel is just a one time surface firing.

Many of your pieces seem to have a spiritual quality including your "evil eye" series and talisman pieces. Why have you gone in this direction?

I have always been fascinated with symbols and the meanings behind them. To many people, symbols bring strength or empowerment. There is something very wonderful about symbolic jewelry. It brings the person a sense of connection.

You mention in your website that you started making jewelry as a child. It's rare that a person takes a path in life that was of interest as a child....tell us what was so instantly gratifying to you about making jewelry and how it sustains you now?

When I handled a blowtorch at fourteen, I knew this was the way for me to extract all the images and visions I had as a child. That is also the main reason for enamel. Metal wasn't enough of a way for me to get my creativity out. Jewelry and art sustain me in spiritual way. When I create a series of enamels it is my way of working through something emotional or sharing with others.

With metals I had lots of training in high school and college. With enamel I am self taught. I feel it allows for one to develop a style and somewhat of a technique that is their own. There is a lot of trial and error but nothing good comes easy.

What advise do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

I would advise that patience is key. I would also say that sometimes we need to take a few steps back in order to move forward.

Julie's work can be found at art shows around the southwest and on her website which she tells me is constantly updated. It was such a pleasure "meeting" Julie and seeing these extraordinary enamels!

Thanks for stopping by!