Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jeweler, Metalsmith, Goldsmith, Silversmith? What are we?

Naked Jewelry

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably aware of the Orchid network for jewelry professional and hobbyists. This online forum is one of the most valuable sources of information for me as a jewelry designer thirsty for knowledge from those with more experience.

Recently a fascinating thread has been circulating that someone started by asking a simple question. What do people who make and/or sell jewelry call themselves?

You might think we'd know this seemingly simple answer but it sparked a debate that is going on several days now.

The consensus seems to be that we are JEWELERS...and that a person is a JEWELER is they sell jewelry, even if they don't know much about making it. However that doesn't make a person necessarily a BENCH JEWELER who must apparently know how to do repairs as well as make jewelry.

And, a person can be a GOLDSMITH even if they never work with gold. A goldsmith, we learned, is any person who makes small objects of precious metals, usually for personal adornment. It was also said that a GOLDSMITH must see the big picture; creating from initial conception through completion.

A SILVERSMITH on the other hand, is a person who works on larger hollowware; things like candleholders, knifes, forks, spoons, plates etc....

Some call themselves METALSMITHS, however, one person mentioned that she has been contacted to make wrought iron and shoe horses...not exactly the same thing!

Given that I rarely work with gold, I hardly feel that "goldsmith" works for me, though it sure sounds nice! I previously thought a better term for me was either "metalsmith" or "silversmith" but I learned that neither of those are right at all!

So, I have decided I am a JEWELER. I like the ring to that as well, although as a "jeweler" I have so much still to learn from far more accomplished jewelers. At one of my classes, I noticed a man wearing an apron that said "Jeweler In Training". Maybe that's me!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Linda Gebert: Abstracts and Color!

Linda Gebert

I first encountered Linda Gebert through the Ganoksin Gallery. Her work stood out to me as particularly colorful and joyful. Then I discovered that aside from her jewelry designs, Linda also works in fibers. I asked her about working as a metalsmith, enamel expert and fiber artist:

I hadn’t consciously considered a connection before, but since they spring from a common brain they must.

I transitioned from painting to enamels, then included metal working, missed working with color there, so

combined enameling into my jewelry. I had always wanted to try silk painting, loving the lush way silk absorbs

dye, but held myself back, thinking I needed to narrow the focus and perfect one medium, instead of being all

over the map. The restless mind would not behave, so I started with silk painting, and gradually added the

needle felting too. I enjoy the different way of working, actually, physically, that each presents. I find there’s

also new sense of enthusiasm in being away from one media for a while. It renews the spirit, and spurs the


Your enamels have a quirky, joyful quality...how would you describe your style?

Abstract, first and foremost. Every piece is approached as a new direction, to see what the serendipitous

medium of enamel can do. I often work on several little “canvasses” of copper or silver, concurrently. Then I

decide which speak to me the most, and the chosen ones become pieces of jewelry.

Linda also specializes in "faux bone" pieces. I asked about the attraction to this material.

This is something that appealed to me, but I’m very new at it, and my pieces are pretty derivative of the

wonderfully inventive Robert Dancik’s examples so far. Things from the natural world, rocks, leaf skeletons,

bone, shells have always held a fascination, and this product is so easily made to look like something natural

and organic. Germinating in my head right now, are ideas of the earthy, primitive look of bone, combined in

pieces, with enamel. Stay tuned.

Who have been your greatest influences over the years?

First I have to answer to “what”, and that is growing up visiting the Wichita Center for the Arts, and it’s vast

collection of enamels. From childhood, I knew I wanted to work in that medium. For many years we had the

“Midwest Enamelist Guild”, founded by Australian enamellist Glenice Lesley Matthews, who was Director of

the Center for a time. Through this organization we brought many renowned enamellists to the Center,

including Rebekah Laskin, JoAnn Tanzer, Harlan Butt and others. Rebekah Laskin probably influenced me the

most, as to the style of working. In painting? Larry Rivers.

How fortunate to have studied with John Cogswell! What do you think has been the most valuable lessons

from your teachers?

I’ve had workshops with many fine enamellists, as well as several metals people. From the Cogswell workshop,

I learned to dispense with formalty, as to the “proper way” to accomplish something. Instead, be pragmatic.

If it works for you, do it that way. It was license to experiment, and “cut corners” if the outcome was successful.

And what did you most enjoy about teaching?

I loved teaching enameling. Everyone knows how to make a line with a pencil on paper, but executing many

lines to make a stunning drawing is the real trick. But students come to enameling not knowing anything

intuitively, or experientially, about it, so creating their first object in enamel is such a thrill of discovery for them.

That makes it all worthwhile. I always emphasized that it is the most empirical of learning experiences. Enamel

is very serendipitous, and you only become an expert when you can figure out why it did something unexpected,

and find you have the ability to duplicate what happened.

What advice do you have for weathering this economy?

Since I don’t depend on sales of my work as my only income, I’ve been disappointed at the drop in sales at the

galleries and museums where my work is placed, but not devastated.

What advice do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

Wow, if I had a wonderful nugget of advice, I’d give it to myself. I’ve always had to balance my art with making a living elsewhere, and earlier, raising children too. I never had the luxury of doing it full time. I guess the best advice would be to study with someone who will push you to your limits. And keep learning, always.

Where can your work be seen?

I show in local and regional galleries in Kansas, the Wichita Art Museum, Karg Glass Gallery, and several others

around the state. I found it was difficult to monitor what was happening with work placed farther away. Your readers/viewers can see my work at www.lindagebert.com

I really appreciate Linda's sense of abstract color! Her work is ever so lovely!

Thanks for stopping by!