Saturday, July 19, 2014

Food For Thought

 This brooch was made for Cristina the woman that owns a small studio in Mexico City called Taller Tierra y Plata. It is a wonderful place, I have given a class there at least once a year for the last 7 years.  It was going to be Cristina’s birthday and since her sister already knew my work, she contacted me to make a gift for her. 
Making this present for Cristina was something I was happy to do because Taller Tierra y Plata has played an important role in my professional development over the last 7 years.  At first I wasn't sure what I was going to make but Cristina’s sister gave me full artistic freedom.  So on my next trip to Mexico city I stopped in to visit Cristina at her studio and drop off some of my honey. 
While I was there I took a look around because apart from making jewelry Cristina is also a designer and potter (a good one I might add).  She always has cool contemporary designs she is working on, and one was a ceramic "molcajete" form.  Molcajetes are traditionally made out of volcanic rock, and used for making and serving salsa here in Mexico.


I liked this object a lot, and it sparked in me an idea for the piece for her.  
Here in my studio I already had a mold for the hydraulic press to make a "metate" form, which in some ways is sort of similar to a molcajete.  But I didn't really like the mold for the metate shape for this piece, so I made a new one that looked alot more like a molcajete. 
The molcajete die form is pressed out of old roofing copper.  The brown die-pressed form above it that kind of looks like escaping vapor was a sample I did some time back that has been floating around my parts bucket.  It doesn't represent something specific for me but seemed to match very nicely the theme or scene.  It could be vapor perhaps or as my father said: chocolate, or even wisps of thoughts, inspiration and ideas!  I know that Cristina also really likes to cook, so I thought the molcajete to be very fitting.
Bits and pieces before everything came together.
Just recently I got back one of my pieces from a gallery which had a round silver stamped area with a black glass button in the middle.  I liked it so much that I decided to reproduce it in this piece. 
Do you see that little black button? 
 It comes from a collection that my great grandma Castle had that got passed down to me from my maternal grandmother.  The ruler was an old ivory piece that was given to me by a friend in Mexico City, it seemed to fit the composition nicely given that Cristina is an artist and designer. Since it was already broken it was easy to modify it to fit the parameters of this brooch. 
Finished piece!
May food or what ever source fills you, lead you to your next great burst of creativity and inspiration! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Do You Know Where Your Stones Come From?

As many of you may already know I don't often use stones. 
I do mount bits of things in my work but stones are rare, and if I do use them they have to be well how should I say.. a bit out of the ordinary!

Of course it would be nice if I had a "before" shot, but I don't...  

Ones of the times I was in the village of Mineral de Pozos I picked up this sandstone piece that had a nice bit of orangish quartz drooozy on it.  
It sat in my studio for a long time 
today, as I was preparing stuff for the 2-week residency program at Haystack in Maine this summer,

it spoke to me.  

So I called my friend Kim and he was nice enough to let me use his equipment to cut it up and make it into a few nice little shapes.  
Many might not like it as a stone or say that it has very little value because most of the tops of the little crystals are broke off, 
but it's something special to me because I know where it came from.  

I wonder if some one I know might call these stones Wabi-Sabi?  
And so these nice bits will get packed away for my trip to Maine, 
perhaps something very cool will come from them during my time there!!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Devices of the Creative Process

It's the beginning of a new year and a great way to get it started is in the studio, or at least by thinking creatively to get you going in the right direction!  

People find inspiration for their artwork in all different ways.  It can change depending on your medium or the approach to the type of artwork created.  So many variable factors are involved that the possibilities are enormous, it can be very exciting but also daunting.  

I don't want you to be be over whelmed with a new start, this is why I would like to talk about several approaches and techniques I use in my creative process, and one in particular that can be used in almost any medium.  So come along with me and hopefully you will find that new bit of useful information or a glimmer of inspiration for that next project!

I would say my 3 biggest areas of current inspiration are plants, architectural elements, and a 3rd one simply being piles of parts and detritus I have sitting around the studio which I have collected over time.  

My natural environment gives me insight into the special spacial structure which occur around us in organic forms.  I spend time each day with my cactus collection examining how all the plants grow and change.  Taking special note of any variations either in growth patterns or illnesses.  
The Mexican architecture is also a wonderful resource for me.  I love the structures, colonial and more contemporary alike.  The forms, textures and colors found within them and on them are incredible, many of my pieces have their foundations raised from the presence of these buildings.  Here is a great example of an old building with a blue and white facade from the village of Mineral de Pozos that became a fun brooch.

I also can get very excited and inspired to create work from the little repositories of collected elements I have sitting around my studio.  Sometimes the shapes, textures or designs of these elements will speak to me and inspire a piece.  Or perhaps I may already have a specific design in mind and then go looking through my reserves of scrap bits searching for that one little extra added element that completes the soul of the piece. 
Regardless of where the inspiration comes from there are many people out there that say it should all be put down on paper first by sketching or drawing out the idea or design.  From time to time I do indeed draw in my sketch book, and I did it for many years during my university studies.  But I have never really gotten excited about it, or felt very confident about my skills to draw or sketch, and sometimes I even get frustrated because it seems so hard for me to project on paper a true image of what I really want to end up creating in the end.  
For this reason one of the very biggest parts of my creative process is making patterns.  I probably started doing this years and years ago when I worked at a machine shop, even before I ever started studying jewelry.  Most of my patterns get made out of thick paper such as card stock that I can cut with an exact-o knife. 
But some patterns I also cut out of thin sheet metal.  I love my patterns, they are an immense help to me.  I like the fact that I can have a hard edge to push against and draw a line along, it also comes in very handy when I want to go back and make another piece the same or similiar to one I already made.  I have drawers with hundreds of patterns in them, sometimes I just like looking through them.  I can even go back and study my patterns for inspiration.  This can also be an added plus when you wish to make bodies of work that have similiar design elements, because you can build off of already existing patterns you know you love!  

Here's wishing you all a rich and productive new start in your studio for 2014!