Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sue Ann Dorman: Jewelry As Paradox!

Sue Ann Dorman IN her computer!

Concrete and Car Glass

Concrete and Car Glass

Raw Diamond Ring

Ametrine and Gold Pendant

Lizard God-ABS

Opal and Diamond Necklace

I first met Sue when I signed up for jewelry classes at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. With 30 years experience as a jeweler, Sue devotes much of her time teaching at both LMU and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in downtown LA. She's a wonderful teacher with a great laugh and twinkling sense of humor. And, her original jewelry designs are dazzling and quite unique. I especially love her use of concrete with car glass! Here's what she has to say about creating that concept:

In 1980 I moved into, rather built, a loft in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. It was the beginning of the downtown movement. There were no such things as secure parking or roof gardens. It was wild country. The first night I stayed downtown, my car was broken into and the stereo stolen. I had been doing work with diamonds and gems in concrete. I was intrigued by the beauty of the broken car window. Putting the broken car window in concrete was a natural progression. I even sold the work at a trunk show at Saks Fith Avenue in Beverly Hills. The community was small at that time so whenever anyone's car was broken into, which was often, they would call me and I would go clean it up and collect the good bits of broken glass. In fact I am still using glass from that time.

How would you describe your style?

There is alot of paradox in my style. I like to push the envelope conceptually but not in an obvious way. I put diamonds in concrete, I make primitive objects with areospace technology and I seek out unusual cut stones. My designs are very classical or basic.

What is the concept behind your concrete line?

Paradox! Putting the most precious in the most common material. My first piece was diamonds in concrete. It was in my Master's show in 1975. Then, being a poor graduate student, they were fake diamonds. Now they are real and I use rare, natural pink diamonds, and top grade, flawless.

You have written several articles on CAD/CAM. What appeals most to you about designing using computer assistance?

It is a new tool and with new toos come new skills. It is not only the CAD but the CAM is as important...a new way to make a 3D object.

What is your ABS work about?

Again paradox...I use areospace techniques to make primitive forms. I am now working on 'gauge earrings'.

How did you get started creating jewelry and what has been your career path?

I was living in the Bay Area, Berkley/'69, and was dating a man who wanted a silver ring with a yin/yang symbol on it. He could not find one he liked. Someone at work brought in a Merritt Community College catalog and I saw a jewelry course listed. I took the class, made the ring and was hooked. My career path has always been about what I can make rather than what I can sell.

You now devote much of your time to teaching--what about that appeals to you?

Because I am interested more in what I make than what I can sell, teaching give me two things. 1) it gives me a somewhat stable base to make what I want and 2) it gives me a place and time when I have to clean up, be somewhere and see people. I like teaching people and get a great reward in seeing what wonderful things they do with the skills I show them.

How have you found it most successful to sell your work?

This may sound strange but to wear it!!

What advise do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

Do the designs you feel passionate about not the ones you think will sell the best.

I felt privileged to be able to take classes from Sue. I learned something during every class and appreciated the atmosphere of creative learning. And her work is just incredible! To view more go to her webiste:

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beth Rosengard: Stunning Color, Texture & Pattern

Beth Rosengard

Mixed Media Wall Art
I have the great privilege of friendship with Beth Rosengard.

I met Beth a few months ago when she had a home sale in Los Angeles where she was offering local jewelry designers some of her rather immense collection of unusual, interesting stones. At that time, I first saw some of her amazing jewelry and it quite simply took my breath away. Not long after that first meeting, Beth generously allowed me to watch her create a commissioned pendant piece, offering me valuable tips throughout the process that improved my own work immensely.

Beth's use of extraordinary stones, with her distinct style and superb craftsmanship results in some of the most stunning jewelry I've ever seen, making her among my most influential jewelry artists as I move forward in my new career.

As you look at her work, the first thing you can't help but notice is...the color! And, those stones!

I have lots of stones – too many stones! – and when I’m designing I pull out my stone boxes (which are organized loosely by color) and start playing. I usually start with whatever stone catches my eye on that day and then start looking for others to complement it. Or I might start with a set of stones (a group of tourmalines, for instance) and play with them until an interesting, balanced pattern emerges. Once I’ve got a grouping I like, I then start considering how to connect them, using gold in complementary and interesting ways ... unless I’m working with broom-cast gold. In that case I work simultaneously with the gold pieces and the stones, but always searching for balance and a pleasing combination of color, texture and shape. Most of it is intuitive; I have never taken a course in pure design.

You work with diamonds and what you refer to as "the big three" but you also specialize in unusual stones. How did you first develop an interest and knowledge of these stones?

What attracts me are color, texture and pattern. And I must confess that I’m also drawn to the unusual and rare – in part for their own sake. In my very first metalsmithing class, the instructor had us make a ring composed of two layers of silver. The bottom layer was solid and the top had a pierced design. When the two were soldered together, the idea was to see a pattern of relief. Everyone else in the class stuck to the plan, some additionally patinating the underlying layer of silver so the pattern in the top layer stood out more. What did I do? I hammered some turquoise and some lapis into a powder, mixed them with epoxy and inlaid the blue and green mixtures into the pierced areas in the top layer of silver. I just had to have color, even in that first project! I still have that ring.

My knowledge of the unusual stones I often work with comes from asking many, many questions of the stone dealers I have bought from over the years. That’s the best way to learn (unless you wish to become a gemologist and then you need formal education).

Your work has a very distinct style. How would you describe it?

People do say that my work has a distinct style and I’m always very glad to hear that! But I’ve never quite understood what it is myself; at least not so that I could explain it. All the words I’d be likely to use – color, texture, pattern, balance, geometry, and more – could be used equally to describe the work of numerous other artists as well. So I guess I’ll have to leave it to the viewers/wearers to decide for themselves!

Your work uses only cabochons rather than faceted stones...what do you prefer about cabochon bezel settings?

To be perfectly honest, bezels are easier! Especially when you’re using irregularly-shaped stones. I did take a few classes in prong setting and flush setting, but I never bothered to become proficient at either because I had pretty much perfected bezel setting and seldom felt the need to stretch – one of my faults. And I do very much prefer cabochons, which look better, I think, in bezels. For most of the opaque lapidary materials I use, cabochons are the only way to go. Where the translucent and transparent gemstones are concerned, I’ve just always preferred the depth of color of cabochons over the glitter of faceted stones.

You mention that gold is your favorite metal. What do you love about it?

People who knew me when I began metalsmithing (about 15 years ago) would be amused by that statement. I started out, like most beginners, with sterling silver and I loved it. When I first began using gold, I hated it because it kept melting on me when I didn’t want it to! The fact is that silver is a very good conductor of heat and gold a very bad one. That means that you have to heat the entire piece of silver you’re working on in order to get one little area hot enough for solder to flow. With gold, on the other hand, you can “spot solder”: heat just the small area (spot) you care about and the heat will stay put, instead of radiating out to the edges of the piece. Once you get used to it, it’s wonderful. Until then, it’s a bitch!

Beth uses a little-known technique called "broom casting" for many of her most original designs. The technique was photographed at the Venice Adult School jewelry class in California and was featured along with Beth's work in the June, 2007 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine.

Briefly, broom-casting involves pouring molten hot metal over the soaking wet, upturned bristles of a straw broom. This results in unique pieces of organic-looking metal that are reminiscent of stalactites. It’s the latter comparison that attracts me. I don’t particularly like “blobby-looking” pieces of metal, but broom-cast metal – while random and organic – is also linear and geometric.

In reading Beth's bio on her website, it's clear that she's had multiple and various successful careers...and now she's heading in a new direction creating mixed media wall art.

I’ve gotten to a point where I’m a bit burned out on being a smith. I could be happy designing forever, but I no longer enjoy getting my hands dirty, so to speak. The transition to mixed media wall art was sort of accidental. I wanted something for an empty wall in my house and I didn’t want to spend a fortune purchasing it. I saw a gallery brochure with some painted work I thought was great and said to myself, “I could do something like that with paper.” And I did! It was so much fun that I kept going and now there’s no stopping me. I’m amassing a decorative paper collection to rival my absurdly large stone collection.

Her advice to those of us starting out on a new path....?

Love what you’re doing!

Good advice for all of us, no matter what path we choose. I wish Beth the very best in her latest pursuit of happiness.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Contemporary Crafts Market

Beth Rosengard

Adam Neeley

Marianne Hunter

Kevin Patrick Kelly

Kathleen Maley

Teri Pelio

Ruth Shapiro

The 23rd Contemporary Crafts Market in Santa Monica, CA just concluded its 2008 show which featured over 250 the some of the finest craft artists in the world including nearly 100 jewelry designers. The show was crowded at times, but the general consensus was that there was a great deal more looking than buying with people concerned about the economy, with budgets stretched tighter than ever before.
I had the great privilege to assist Beth Rosengard who creates some of the most magnificent jewelry I have ever seen. Her signature style incorporates broom casted pieces of gold with unusual, gorgeous stones. Beth began making jewelry as a second career in the early 90's and now is transitioning to mixed media art pieces--proving that the the artistic soul can find expression in many forms.
Across the way from Beth's booth was Adam Neeley who is using a closely guarded technique of Iris gold alloy which creates a look of metal gradually changing color from royal yellow gold to white gold. Adam began cutting stones when he was 12. He had his first major show at 15 and now, at the ripe old age of 25, owns a retail location in Laguna Beach, CA. and shows his work throughout the country. Keep an eye out for Adam! I'm betting his name will become a household name in the not too distant future.

Also exhibiting was enamel artist, Marianne Hunter showing her museum quality, exquisite Kabuki Kachina figures among other pieces.
I was also impressed with 30-year veteran goldsmith and lapidary, Kevin Patrick Kelly who does stunning work primarily with opals.
Ruth Shapiro showcased her Judaica and jewelry. I recently took an etching class from Ruth which was fascinating!
And from bold to simple, I enjoyed both Teripelio Designs and K.Maley Design.
It was a wonderful three days mingling with world-class artists and appreciative customers. I learned a lot and left with tremendous respect for these accomplished, hard-working artists who make the earth a more lovely place.

Thanks for stopping by and BE SURE TO VOTE TOMORROW!