Tag Archives: Earrings

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kelly Nye: Utilizing the Hand and the Machine

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.

from a room with some lace and paper flowers series

from a room with some lace and paper flowers series                                                                                   hand pierced 24 gauge base metals, Montana Gold spray paint

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.

another ****ing birthday, year 34                                                                                                                          laser cut cardboard, Montana Gold spray paint giant necklace

another ****ing birthday, year 34                                                                                                                          laser cut cardboard, Montana Gold spray paint giant necklace

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.

brooches for 2015 SNAG Conference in Boston this week

in process brooch production for 2015 SNAG Conference using laser cut acrylic and molded plastic gems and frames

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.

just fantastic, that is what I really think

just fantastic, that is what I really think                                                                                                           acrylic, nu gold, flocking, steel wire

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.

seafoam marquis

seafoam marquis earrings                                                                                                                                            laser cut acrylic, Montana Gold spray paint, gold leaf, sterling silver post

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.

sky earrings

sky earrings                                                                                                                                                                         laser cut acrylic, Montana Gold spray paint, gold leaf, sterling silver post

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.

big gems

big gems collaboration with Christine Cooper-Hill                                                                                          laser cut acrylic, brass, cubic zirconia

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.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Heather Bivens: Weathered Heather

Throughout the years, creating has been something that I must do. The medium and process has changed and evolved, but my desire to create remains the driving force. Whether they are tests, collections, samples, mock-ups or finished works, they are simultaneously bridges and destinations.

When I was in high school, I studied illustration and copy preparation. In 2007, I obtained my BFA from SUNY Oswego with an emphasis in sculpture and drawing. During that time, I created a range of work that explored performance art, digital imagery, video and installation. In 2010, I obtained my MFA in Sculpture from Syracuse University. My graduate work investigated the art of adornment through wearable sculpture. During that time, my connection with nature became more profound and could be seen as a common thread between all of my works.

Wearable Art: Butterfly Neck-piece, Latex Party Dress, Latex Garden Dress

Wearable Art: Butterfly Neck-piece, Latex Party Dress, Latex Garden Dress

Soon after graduate school, I taught a range of studio art courses as a part time instructor at Cazenovia College. There, I had the opportunity to work in a glass studio, where I learned to work with kiln formed art glass. Based on my interest in adornment, it felt natural for me to make jewelry from this new medium.

Art Glass Jewelry: Underwater Rocks Necklace, Pebble Design Earrings, Amber Stripe Earrings.

Art Glass Jewelry: Underwater Rocks Necklace, Pebble Design Earrings, Amber Stripe Earrings.

My glass work has opened new doors for me as an artist and maker while connecting all of my prior experience into one art form. Today, I consider myself fortunate to be self-employed and make work full time in my home studio. My business is Weathered Heather, named after myself and my inspiration.

Weathered Heather

My jewelry making process begins by assembling compatible glass. The glass can be cut, crushed into small pieces or made into strands with the use of a torch.

Crushed glass (frit) and stands of glass (stringer).

Crushed glass (frit) and stands of glass (stringer).

I layer the glass using a temporary adhesive to ensure that they stay in place during the firing process. Earrings are designed at the same time to ensure that they are similar in nature. It is important to make sure that the same amount of glass is being used on each piece. If it is uneven, the design can become distorted or they can end up unequal in size.

Prepared glass designs on a kiln shelf before entering the kiln.

Prepared glass designs on a kiln shelf before entering the kiln.

After each design is assembled, they are properly fired in a kiln up to 1500 degrees. In some cases, multiple firings are necessary to achieve the desired result. After the firing process, they are shaped and cold worked with diamond abrasives.

A small groove is ground along the edge of each piece of glass using a diamond disk. This grove provides a space for my wire setting.

Side view: Wire setting.

Side view: Wire setting.

Some of my newest work is created by hand painting the image with glass enamel. The enamel begins as a powder that is made into a paintable form using a liquid medium.

Dry enamel pigments and prepared pigments with a liquid medium.

Dry enamel pigments and prepared pigments with a liquid medium.

I then cut a piece of glass slightly larger than the pendant or earrings that I would like to create. I paint the image directly on the surface. The image can be painted all in one sitting or it can be completed in layers if the design is complex. Each layer is fired to solidify the bottom layer before more enamel is added.

First layer of painted enamel before firing them in the kiln.

First layer of painted enamel before firing them in the kiln.

Painting enamel in layers. Various stages of completion.

Painting enamel in layers. Various stages of completion.

After painting the image, I often place a clear sheet of glass on top of the image before firing it. This step embeds the image in the center of the glass, encapsulating it like a preserved treasure.
The excess material needs to be ground away with a diamond abrasive, giving the piece its final shape and size.

Final stages: removing excess and giving the work it's final shape.

Final stages: removing excess and giving the work it’s final shape.

The bubbles you see within the design are often described as “champagne” bubbles and are a characteristic of kiln formed glass.

“Phoebus Butterfly”, Hand painted glass enamel on clear art glass, kiln formed, with a 2.8mm, 20” Argentium sterling silver chain, soldiered links and toggle clasp. Glass Size: 1 15/16" x 1 1/16".

“Phoebus Butterfly”, Hand painted glass enamel on clear art glass, kiln formed, with a 2.8mm, 20” Argentium sterling silver chain, soldiered links and toggle clasp. Glass Size: 1 15/16″ x 1 1/16″.

For more information on Weathered Heather, visit Heather’s website at www.weatheredheather.com. You can also follow Weathered Heather on Facebook and Instagram (@weatheredheather).

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, by painter Melissa Huang.

Inside The Artist’s Studio: Introducing Vanessa Rivera

My name is Vanessa Rivera and I have been obsessed with jewelry since the fourth grade. It all started when my fourth grade classmates and I started making friendship bracelets, and people would buy mine for $5. At that time I never thought it would be a lifelong obsession, but here I am, still making jewelry and loving it.

me

I did not decide to turn my hobby into a business until I started graduate school at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where I recently graduated with an entrepreneurial business degree for creatives. Alongside my jewelry business I am also a graphic designer with a degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and I teach art part-time at a private school in Bethesda, MD. I live with the love of my life, my husband, our three kids, and the many pets they bring into our home. We are expecting our fourth child any day now.

My studio/domain is messy. I find inspiration in the chaos and thrive on the beautiful mess that is my one-room art studio at home. I always have multiple projects going on at once. My studio has a small dresser where my creations are filed away once they are finished. There is an order to the disorder – I like to have all my materials visible so I can visually play with color schemes and sizing. I work best at night when everyone is asleep and I have the house to myself. Sometimes I get so sucked into a project I stay up to finish it, even if it means going to bed at 4 am and suffering the next day.

studio

I was born in Lima, Peru but have lived in the Washington DC area for most of my life (minus a short stint in the Middle East to accompany my husband’s job). Before we had kids we invested heavily in travel, which is something that has definitely influenced my work.

I designed and created the custom bridal jewelry set below for a wedding in Colorado, matching the cuff with the circular shape of the earrings. I was obsessed with gold and white when I made those earrings.

IMG_0100

Materials: Swarovski crystals, Mayuki seed beads, 14 carat gold filled chain

alex_trav_wed-358

Photo by: Jeff Ambrose

I designed the red set for a good friend of mine who needed the perfect jewelry for a speaking engagement. She wanted something bold to go with a simple black dress.  She looks fabulous in gold. I pictured twirling flamenco skirts and the result was this:

IMG_0097

Materials: Swarovski crystals, Toho seed beads, 14 carat gold and glass seed beads, 14 carat gold filled chain

Much of my creativity and motivation comes from the giggles, happiness, and craziness that my children bring into my life. They are my biggest source of inspiration and motivation. Sometimes they pick out the color schemes for my jewelry, for example, an upcoming peacock collection based on square shapes with greens, blues and golds.

You can see a necklace and earring set by Vanessa in our Small Works exhibition. You can also see more of her beautifully intricate jewelry on her website, or follow @VanessaRockwood on Instagram.

Keep an eye out for Vanessa’s second Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, where she walks us through her jewelry making process.

Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter, Kevin Stuart.