My current work is a unique hybrid of traditional handcrafted metalwork and laser cut modest materials such as cardboard and acrylic. As an educator, I have access to a range of technological devices and machinery. I have chosen the laser cutter as a tool to obtain precise repetition that I would not be able to duplicate by hand.
My work often flows in series format, one, in which I hand pierce organic, lacy floral adornment drawings with a jeweler’s saw in thin gauge metal. In opposition to what I can achieve with this traditional metalsmithing method, I also use the laser cutter to reproduce linear gemkutz in a light mass produced fashion. The laser cutter affords me the ability to use the acrylic pieces, both the positive silhouettes and the negative shapes, in a multitude of compositions.
I do not make jewelry in the traditional sense of the word. I make objects that pertain to the concept of jewelry or adornment but span beyond the wearable to pieces that can be viewed as drawings or sculptures that hang on the wall rather than the body as site.
I currently teach Jewelry and Metals and Foundations at Columbus College of Art & Design (Columbus, Ohio) where I received my BFA in 2006. I moved to California right away seeking a greater expansion of knowledge base in the metalsmithing field where I received my MFA in 2010 from California State University Long Beach. I focus on teaching the basic building blocks of smithing and fabrication, but incorporate digital technology into my curriculum. This allows the students to understand the use of alternative materials, connections and production as it relates to the jewelry field.
The two necklaces above were from a collaboration with my students based on a previous project that I made for myself titled another ****ing birthday, year (34). This was my piece gifted to the participating students for my 34th birthday and in turn, they created an amazing assortment of brooches, crowns, and bibs for me using the laser cutter as the primary tool for production.
I am in the process of preparing a trip to Boston to attend the Society of North American Goldsmith’s Conference. Here I will be exchanging the above brooches with fellow metalsmiths. Our field is so vast and we all share unique skill sets. The subject matter of the gemkutz series actually is derived from the area of Fine Jewelry & Goldsmithing which I am interested in but have no formal training. So I have taken the aspects of this field and translated it into a more accessible, abstracted visual translation using opposing materials. I have recently collaborated with Christine Cooper-Hill, a veteran goldsmith on our piece big gems. The diverse skills of stone setting that I learned from Christine, will progress and expand in future works as I am experimenting with setting in the acrylic rather than the more common choice of metal.
My work has always been exaggerated, both in size and concept. Working in small series allows me to express the visual ideas necessary by completing several designs using similar repetitive elements that unite to compose lace-like decorative structures based on jewelry forms. The exhausting of a single shape or silhouette has become a major part of my process, especially in the gemkutz series.
The linear designs are based on diamond and precious gem facet diagrams as they would be translated three dimensionally into a stone, such as Asscher, Emerald, Marquis and Trillion cuts. The fluidity between drawing and project begins at the early stages of the process as the images are created in the vector rendering program Adobe Illustrator. The laser cutter reads the files and cuts, etches, and scores accordingly into an assortment of material including paper, fabric, leather, etc. The conversion from a two-dimensional drawing/layout to a flat three-dimensional form is most interesting to me as an artist, and why I began referring to these pieces as drawings, because I believe they can exist as both drawing and sculpture.
Material choice has always been a major role in my work as I have consistently united the semi-precious with the mundane and mediocre. I use sterling and fine silver, brass, copper, bronze, and nickel silver married with felt, textiles, silicone, and plastics. The combination of the two speak in terms of contemporary jewelry as a method of tradition and technology. Mold-making also plays a role in my work and I view the laser cutter as a form of this process; it is a tool or extension of the hand to reproduce effectively and with exactness.
The gemkutzs series, rethinks aspects of traditional fine jewelry. Based on gemstones, settings, and linear gem cuts, these pieces made of modest materials present wearable statements opposing the standards of the fine jewelry trade. Influenced by nostalgia of the 80’s and 90’s, asymmetry, vibrant colors, and spray paint are ubiquitous through this series. Artistic statements are my fashion intention.
For more information on Kelly Nye you can visit her website at www.thekellynye.com and follow her on Instagram @kellnye. Feel free to contact the artist via the email on her site. Or stop by the gallery to see her work in our current exhibition, Structurally Speaking.
Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by textile artist Doerte Weber.