Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mimi Favre ~ Artist Interview

A big thank you today, to Mimi for sharing with us in today's Artist Interview :)

How would you describe what you do as an artist?

Primarily, I make one of a kind and limited production fine jewelry. Color relationships interest me so I try to find unusual stones and pearls to use in my work. I prefer to work in gold and platinum although I do love the color of pink and green gold, oxidized silver, bronze and copper and sometimes combine them in a piece. 
Classic Quatrefoil Earring in two sizes and in several color combinations. All 18K gold with tourmalines and sapphires (green, blue and pink). Oxidized silver and 18K gold with yellow beryl and mali garnets.
©Mimi Favre


What inspires your designs?

I keep a sketchbook for all of the random designs that pop into my head! I’m an avid gardener so I do like to adapt floral forms in wax. I have a large collection of seashells, pods and various organic 'shapes'. I take lots of photos. I buy natural colored pearls and stones that I like and prefer to design around them.

 Dogwood Ring
©Mimi Favre


How long have you been involved in this type of making?

The metalsmith spark was ignited when, as a young teenager, I visited Historic Williamsburg, Virginia and was mesmerized by the 'colonial silversmiths' who were making beautiful objects. I decided that I wanted to study metalsmithing in college even though I had not had any instruction and therefore no portfolio. I enrolled at RIT as an Art major then transferred the following year into the Metals program. However, once I completed my BFA in what was then The School for American Craftsman, I realized that I wanted to apply my design skills to fine jewelry. I moved to New York City where I worked for German master jewelers for six years and later worked at Carvin French which is a highly specialized fine jewelry trade shop. For more than twenty years I have worked on my own while also raising a family.

Where are you located? 

I have lived outside of Philadelphia for most of my life. This region of Pennsylvania has a rich history of Horticulture evidenced by numerous public and private gardens where we enjoy four distinct seasons.

Botanical Group. Embossed bracelet 18K gold. Ginkgo Earrings in 18K gold (available on Etsy ) and Embossed 18K Fern pendant on handmade 18K chain.
©Mimi Favre

Do you have a website or etsy store? 

Website: http://www.MimiFavre.com
Blog- Studio Jeweler: http://mimifavre.blogspot.com/ 
Etsy- FavreBijoux http://www.etsy.com/shop/FavreBijoux
CustomMade website- http://www.custommade.com/by/mimi-favre-studio

What other ways do you market your work? 

 I have sold work in several galleries in the past however with rising gold prices and most Galleries wanting only to consign, I am concentrating my efforts on the Internet with shops on ETSY and CustomMade. I do a few selective local trunk shows and custom work. 

Recent design. Group of Pyramid Earrings. 18K yellow and pink gold with natural colored 11mm pearls. Yellow and white South Sea and Gray/Blue Tahitian pearls.
©Mimi Favre


Any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?

I don't consider myself a Sage but here goes.....Seek out good teachers to learn proper technique. There are no shortcuts to good craftsmanship- only practice. Use the best materials that you can afford. Make what you love and follow your own design instincts. Don't underestimate your talent nor undervalue your work. Never compromise your integrity.

Where do you envision your work going in the next year?

I'm thinking about working on a bigger scale and doing some decorative objects. I plan to learn 3Design. 

Anything else?

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/MimiFavreStudio
Twitter @favrebijoux

Geometric Briolet Earrings
©Mimi Favre

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Call to Enter- Necklace show for SNAG Phoenix 2012

The following is the prospectus for a show that is part of the 2012 SNAG conference in Phoenix AZ this coming May-

Hot Under the Collar: A Survey of Contemporary Necklaces

Choker, collar, lariat, torque, pendant, the necklace is one of the most diverse formats available to metalsmiths today. Whether cascading down the front, or draped down the back, the possibilities are nearly endless. The human torso provides us with one of our largest canvases, while still keeping body as site.

From comments on the classic strand of pearls to contemporary takes on armor, this juried exhibition seeks to showcase how metalsmiths today interpret this incredibly versatile object.


Bob Ebendorf
    Robert Ebendorf is the Belk Distinguished Professor at the East Carolina University Metal Design program. He has also taught at the University of Georgia and the State University of New York at New Paltz, as well as conducted workshops all over the country. Ebendorf has received numerous grants and awards, including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant, an American Crafts Council Award, and most recently the North Carolina Award, the highest civilian honor awarded by the state of North Carolina. He has exhibited work extensively both nationally and internationally. Ebendorf has works in the permanent collections of the Museum of Art and Design,  the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Amy Tavern    
    Amy Tavern received a BFA in Metal Design from the University of Washington and a BA in Arts Administration from the State University of New York, College at Fredonia. In addition to being a studio artist, Tavern has taught at the Penland School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and the Pratt Fine Arts Center. Tavern has lectured at the 2008 Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference, East Carolina University, and Winthrop University. She has exhibited at Sienna Gallery, Aaron Faber Gallery, and Heidi Lowe Gallery, among others. Tavern’s work has been published in numerous publications, most recently in SNAG’s 2011 Exhibition in Print. Tavern is currently a resident artist at the Penland School of Crafts. Her work can be found in galleries around the U.S. and abroad.

Hot Under the Collar Application

Last Name                First Name                Middle Initial


City                        State                Zip Code

Phone Number                            Email

Entry 1





Entry 1 (detail)





Entry 2





Entry 2 (detail)





Entry 3





Entry 3 (detail)





Hot Under the Collar will be shown May 24-27, in conjunction with the 2012 SNAG Conference. The exhibition will take place at the Scottsdale Museum of art, in a large atrium. Please note that while the exhibition space is secure, the museum will not be providing insurance. Accepted works must arrive at SMOCA on or before May 23, 2012. Return shipping costs must be covered by the artist either by pre-paid shipping label or by credit card. Work may also be picked up from SMOCA at the end of the conference.

Artists may submit up to 3 artworks for consideration for a $30 fee. Payment must be made via PayPal to hotunderthecollarshow@gmail.com.  If you have a PayPal account, you can use the Send Money option. You do not need a PayPal Account to submit payment, you may pay with a credit card through PayPal using the Send Money Option to submit payment to hotunderthecollarshow@gmail.com.

Only works completed in the past 3 years will be considered. Entries must be submitted as digital images in JPEG. Image resolution must be 300 dpi, with 6” as the longest dimension.  Digital images should be named as follows:

LastName.EntryNumber.jpg  (EX: Doe.1.jpg) Detail shots may be included and should be labeled as follows: LastName.EntryNumber a.jpg (EX: Doe1a.jpg) Please limit detail shots to 1 per piece.

Email entries by January, 15th 2012 to Liz Steiner at:
hotunderthecollarshow@gmail.com subject Necklace Show.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Aritst Interview ~ Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Special thanks to Kest for sharing with us! 

Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
My work is all about being one of a kind, affordable, and easy to wear. I use metal to evoke the natural landscape from which the ore emerged. Some pieces are very bold, shouting of earthquakes, while others whisper of quiet fields of rustling grass, or paths through autumn woods.  Like any good traveling companion, my pieces are a bit eccentric- each is entirely different from every other piece I've ever created. Each has their own personality, as organic and hard to define as each of your friends. The masks provide a different kind of freedom; by letting you pretend to be something else, they allow you to truly be yourself. They are wearable, yet function as sculpture off the head.

Ghost ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

What inspires your designs?
Mostly the copper itself- also the world. Trees and streams and acorn caps caught in whirlpools. Folktales and fairytales and overheard stories. Sometimes big thoughts, but mostly small ones. Recently I've been making masks for all the critters in Borges "The Book of Imaginary Beings", and this has challenged me tremendously- some of the creatures I know, but others I have to invent from a small bit of text.
Triceratops worn ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

How long have you been involved in this type of making?
I've been making masks for over a decade. I've been forging copper for about 8 years. I've been inventing odd critters for just under 30 years. 

Cassawary ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Where are you located?
Currently in Nashville, TN. I move around a lot, and travel even more, so you never know where I'll turn up. Next on the list: Bicycling the Mediterranean coast (not all of it). 

Hummingbird ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry
Mosquito from Elow ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Do you have a website or etsy store?
I primarily list my work at www.vagabondjewelry.com
I do also have an etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/VagabondMetal
Right now the Imaginary Beings only exist on my blog http://thebookofimaginarybeings.blogspot.com 
Guillotine Ring front ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

What other ways do you market your work?
I've recently gotten into wholesale, so now my stuff is available in several boutiques and museum stores, mostly in the northeast, and right around Nashville. Occasionally I do participate in a gallery show, but not so often.
Falling Waters ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Sage advice? I don't know about that! I think that the one real solid thing I have to share is that it's worth trying with that thing you really want to be doing that everyone says will be impossible. I started my business with my jewelry- I enjoyed making the masks, but didn't think they would be commercially viable. It was years before I put the time into making them sellable. Now I have trouble making them fast enough to keep them in stock. The other, related, thing is to go ahead and make that big thing that you really KNOW will never sell. It'll get attention, or, in other words, free advertising. 

Flora ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Where do you envision your work going in the next year?
Well, there's still 120 critters left in the book of imaginary beings. That'll be most of the next year. After that? Maybe I'll extend the book from my own folkloric studies.
Bermuda Triangle ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Anything else you would like to share?
MY FaceBook Fan page: https://www.facebook.com/vagabondjewelry
My photos on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vagabondjewelry 
And if you're looking for funny stories, I've been writing them up on my personal blog, here: http://uneditedstorys.blogspot.com/  
Backbone with bone ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Black on Brass

Black on brass- my sample from the following recipe

 recently we have had a thread about getting patina on brass- it is possible- just a little different recipe than black on copper or sterling- here is the best black on brass notes that I have found-

This is a handout that I got from the fabulous Claire Sanford (@top dog studios) a few years ago when I took a patina workshop that she taught here in Tucson. If you ever get a chance to take a class with Claire I highly recommend it- she is a lovely person and an excellent instructor that really knows her way around the metals studio.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Copper show

The Copper show! (call to enter)

Hi everyone-
About a month ago I was asking for people to come up with a list of artists who work primarily in copper- Here's the reason why! I wanted to get people to start thinking about this upcoming show.
It will be one of the SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) sponsored shows that will be held in Phoenix next May during the SNAG conference.

I encourage you all to submit your amazing creations that feature copper as it's main (75%) material.
The SNAG shows are an excellent way to get exposure within our field and the surrounding community. Mesa arts center (where the show will be held) is already a hub of cultural activity in the greater Phoenix area, so we are thrilled that they will be a huge part of the conference- they will be holding multiple exhibitions at their beautiful venue- and they throw magnificent openings!

Here is the text of the Call to Enter: please feel free to share this with any copper artists/ groups that you think may be interested. We are thrilled to have master Vessel maker/copper smith David Huang as the juror, and we are looking forward to a magnificent show!
thanks in advance for your entries -
Maureen BZ (+ Danielle Embry and Charity Hall- exhibitions committee for SNAG Phoenix 2012)

CU|29: Contemporary Work in Copper
Call for Entries

In conjunction with the Society of North American Goldsmith's (SNAG) 2012 Conference in
Phoenix, Arizona, Mesa Art Center is presenting the exhibition, CU|29: Contemporary Work
in Copperfrom April 6 to August 12, 2012.  Copper, our 29th element, is prized for its excellent
malleability, conductivity, and ductility. Arizona is the leading copper-producing state in the
This juried exhibition will feature contemporary artwork that is made primarily of copper. 
In addition to contemporary work, the exhibition will highlight exquisite copper vessels created
in Santa Clara, Mexico borrowed from several private collections throughout the region. Mesa
Contemporary Arts will be showcasing five exhibitions during SNAG and will be a destination
spot during the Friday night gallery crawl.

Juror: David Huang is a renowned metalsmith known for his raised copper vessels. Widely
exhibited throughout the U.S, David Huang’s work is in many private collections and museum
collections, including the Muskegon Museum of Art and the Kamm Teapot Collection. 
Publications include 500 Metal Vessels –Contemporary Explorations of Containmentby Lark
Books (2007) and “Inquire Within: The Holloware of David Huang” , published in Metalsmith
Magazine(2008). He currently lives and maintains a studio in western Michigan.

Eligibility: Open to any artist working in copper. Pieces submitted for consideration must be
original in design and composed of at least 75% copper. Artwork may include but is not limited
to jewelry, vessels, sculpture, and wall pieces.

Submissions: Artists may submit up to 3 artworks for consideration for a $25 fee. Entries must
be submitted as digital images in JPEG format on a CD. Image resolution must be 200 dpi, with
6” as the longest dimension.  Digital images should be named as follows:
LastName.EntryNumber.jpg  (EX: Doe.1.jpg) Detail shots should be labeled as follows.
LastName.EntryNumber a.jpg (EX: Doe1a.jpg) Limit detail shots to 1 per piece.  Also, include a
PDF document on the CD that contains Artist contact information (name, address, phone
number, email) AND the following information for each piece:
Artist Name
Entry Number
Label this file as: LastName.pdf  (EX: Doe.pdf)
Submissions and the $25 entry fee, payable to Arizona Designer Craftsmen, must be
received by November 18, 2011.

Mail entries to:
SNAG Exhibitions Committee
c/o Charity Hall
P.O. Box 3615
Tucson, AZ 85722

Transportation/Shipping:Artists are responsible for transportation of work to Mesa
Contemporary Arts. Artworks may be hand-delivered to MCA or shipped to arrive on or before 5
pm March 16, 2012. Work being shipped must be packed in a re-usable shipping container.
Artists are responsible for checking with their shipper regarding insurance and correct packing
procedures. Mesa Contemporary Arts will not be responsible for breakage because of incorrect
packing or insufficient container. Artists will be notified of work that arrives in damaged
condition. Cost of shipping artwork to the exhibition is the artist’s responsibility; MCA will pay
for return shipping and insurance of artwork within the contiguous United States, via standard
UPS only. If any other carriers are requested for the return, the artist will be responsible for the
cost and scheduling.

Liability:Insurance will be carried by the City of Mesa on all works for the duration of the show
(April 6 to August 12, 2012).  The usual exclusions will apply for loss or damage which occur by
any event beyond the control of the City.

Agreement:The artist agrees to maintain entry for the duration of the exhibition. Submission of
an entry constitutes permission to photograph work for publicity and educational purposes. All
entries must be of original design and personal execution.  Artwork may be for sale atthe artist’s
discretion.  A 25% commission will be retained by MCA on all sales.

November 18, 2011 Submissions must be received
January 15, 2012Artists will be notified of acceptance/denial via email
March 16, 2012Work must arrive at the Mesa Contemporary Arts by 5 pm
May 25, 2012Member’sVIP Reception: 6-7 pm;Public Reception: 7-9 pm
April 6-August 12, 2012 Exhibition Dates. Work will be shipped out for return during
the week of August 27th, 2012.

Questionsmay be directed to SNAG2012exhibitions@gmail.com

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maureen BZ- interview update!

 This is a short update to the original interview ( http://metalsmithsunite.blogspot.com/2009/11/introductions-are-at-hand.html )with Maureen Brusa Zappellini- (Metalsmiths Unite founder) with a little bit of background on the formation of the Metalsmiths Unite group....

What inspired you start Metalsmiths Unite?
You know when you go to a conference and you get that feeling like you aren't connected at all with the community? You feel like an outsider- and it's that outsider feeling that was the catalyst for my starting the Metalsmiths Unite group in the first place. I Created the very first Metalsmiths Unite group the week after I got back from the SNAG conference in Savannah (08) .

Most conferences/professional gatherings are really hard on the independent - Most of the attendees are from some school or professional group: they already have a framework within their community. As an independent artist (many years out of school) I noticed that there were a lot of us "indies" around, mostly feeling disconnected from the group experience as a whole.
2nd annual Metalsmiths Unite "Chill Lounge" gathering Tucson AZ, February2011

I saw a need for an independent forum for ALL LEVELS of metalsmithing and metalsmithing enthusiasts, so I patched together a group, stuck the name Metalsmiths Unite on it and the rest is history.
Metalsmiths Unite has become my main community- It is full of a collection of independent artists and teachers from all levels of our craft- from super newbie beginner to professional craftspeople whose work is collected by collectors, museums and yes, even royalty.  I know I can go to Metalsmiths Unite 2.0 at any time of day to get responses for technical questions, show new images of my work, and find information about what is current in our metalsmithing world. In short- it is a community of individuals- with a passion for metalsmithing as a common axis.

I think that it has helped many people make connections that otherwise they may not have been able to make, so I'm happy with the result.

powdercoated bronze and silver earrings
 I never thought it would grow so big either- I envisioned 30-40 friends talking about technique and materials and occasionally showing a picture of work that they have done. It soon became clear that it was going to be a bit bigger than that- and by the end of the year I had to take it more seriously, write a mission statement and create posting guidelines. My little baby had grown.

When did you found the group?
I founded the group in the spring of 2008, just after coming home from the Savannah SNAG conference- I felt a need to be in communication with other metalsmiths- especially those of us who weren’t connected to any formal group (those of us out of school and independently working in our studios)

What is your vision for it?
Hmm, my vision is that MU continues to grow and becomes a favorite resource for it’s members. I think we are on the right track.

Where can all it’s parts it be found?
pewter container- "Bella Fiorentina 2011"
Metalsmiths Unite started on another page, as simply “Metalsmiths Unite”- it still exists, but I’ve shut down the wall to comments because I cannot manage both groups at once- However, there is a lot of information there about artists and resources, plus hundreds of photos and even a few videos. https://www.facebook.com/groups/23784239066/
The MAIN page that is used daily is at Metalsmiths Unite 2.0, here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/23784239066/#!/groups/metalsmithsunite/
then we have this blog, a Flickr Group (at http://www.flickr.com/groups/1311938@N20/pool/ ) a Twitter account that I have let lapse into oblivion (not enough hours in the day)
and we just recently added a very informal etsy team ( http://www.etsy.com/teams/9513/metalsmiths-unite-on-etsy?ref=pr_teams )

Anything else you want to tell us about the group?
I think it’s a great group of creatives, and I’ve met some really wonderful people through the 3 years since I started it. I look forward to greeting my fellow ‘smiths every day, and seeing the works that we are merrily creating in our studios. I think Metalsmiths Unite stays fresh because it is constantly evolving- every day there are new topics being shared, in real time - with hundreds of dedicated craftspeople from all around the wold.

What can the members do, to help make it successful?
 Don't be shy- participate and keep posting your metalsmithing related posts! Volunteer to write a blog post or two (you can even use one of your own blog posts on your personal blog if you think it is interesting to the metalsmithing community)
Give encouragement to newbies, continue to add your metalsmithing friends to the group, let the group know what it is that YOU want out of the group.

strap "slide bead" bracelets 2011 (compare to painting below)
Metalsmiths Unite's success is created by active participation -
Above ALL- continue the groups mission to be open to all levels and disciplines in our craft - including everyone from museum level artists to hobbyists and enthusiasts. That we continue our community in the spirit of sharing and open dialogue, with respect for our differences and the creation of bridges of understanding.

MBZ, What is your background?
Silk painting with stitching 1998
I’ve earned a studio diploma (concentrating in painting)  from School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA) and a BFA from Tufts University. I studied metalsmithing as an apprentice for the summers home from college (6 days a week, silversmithing, mostly forging and soldering)
In my previous incarnation as a painter I was the recipient of a 10 week scholarship at Skowhegan school of painting and sculpture (1989).
I’ve worked for production metalsmiths in Providence RI (my mother lives there). I studied and taught metalsmithing in Florence Italy (my husband’s home town, where we lived from 97-2000)
I’ve taught here in Tucson, I continue to give demos and workshops (metalsmithing and pewter work).
 President of Arizona Designer Craftsmen (southern chapter) 2006/7 .
Fall 2011 postcard for my jewelry line "Cosmo's Moon"- "

2007-2009 goldsmith for a custom ring designer (http://Krikawa.com , where I was making a lot of mokume inlay bands)
I currently work for myself , designing and creating a line of jewelry for online sales in my etsy shops (http://cosmosmoon.etsy.com  http://braceletworkshop.etsy.com  http://pewterpalooza.etsy.com ) and I also do goldsmithing for a private opal company here in Tucson.

OK- I think that's enough info for now- Please let me know if you have any questions about Metalsmiths Unite- I will do my best to answer them-
in the mean time- may the flux be with you, and your striker be forever sparky
ciao-Maureen BZ
my personal sites:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Story of Diamonds: Cutting a Round Brilliant

A special thanks to Andrea Robinson, who had provided us with this article on The Story of Diamonds, which was originally written and published at 

First, the planner starts with a diamond crystal.  The planner decides what is going to happen with the crystal.  One stone, two, three, what shape?

The marker then marks where the diamond needs to be sawn or cleaved.

If the diamond is to be cleaved, a kerf (small groove) is cut into the crystal with a laser.  Then, some extremely skilled person gets to whack it with a mallet.

The crystal is more likely to be sawn, these days.

The next step is bruting which rounds out the stones and gives the initial cone shape to the pavilions.  In this step, two diamonds are used to shape each other.  This can be done by hand or machine.

Next, the diamond is blocked.  The table plane is cut, and the pavilion mains and crown facets are placed.  The brillianteers then add the remaining facets and do the final polishing.

This video shows most of the process:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wendy Van Camp ~ Artist Interview

Welcome to our weekly artist interview series - this week we are featuring Wendy Van Camp.  Thanks so much for sharing today Wendy!
Wendy Van Camp
How would you describe what you do as an artist? 
I am a designer of women's jewelry.  Most of my work is wirewrapped forms featuring small gauge wire and semi-precious stones.  I usually use sterling silver in my work, but lately I've been featuring pieces made of copper wire or a mix of silver and copper. Unusual stones are the focus  in my work, ones with lots of interesting textures or colors.

What inspires your designs?
I am half Scottish.  I use my heritage to give my contemporary jewelry a Celtic inspiration.  Tree of Life pendants are a specialty.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ Freeform Tree of Life
How long have you been involved in this type of making?
I was a television producer/director by night and a high school teacher by day.  Then I met my husband. Suddenly, my personal life became more important than pursuing the next television gig. I had a great desire to slow down my life and to spend more time with my husband and perhaps start a family. To save money on our wedding, I made my own bridal veil and discovered bead jewelry making for the first time.  It was relaxing as well as creative, very much opposite from my previous hectic life.  I quit teaching and scaled back my television production work to part-time in order to begin a small jewelry business.  That was 16 years ago.  I love being an artist and working for myself on my own terms.  Jewelry is my main line of business.  However, I recently have become a certified gemologist and a freelance writer.  I am beginning to write part-time in addition to my jewelry business.  It's all good.

Where are you located?
Anaheim Hills is the hilly, upscale, part of Anaheim, CA. Close enough to the beach to enjoy, but far enough away that we don't have to deal with tourists.  My house is near the Nixon Presidential Library and Disneyland. We often enjoy the fireworks from the park in our backyard. There are hubs of historic small towns that are still thriving nearby and provide quaint places to visit and shop.  My favorite writing spot is a coffeehouse that used to be the building of a local newspaper in one of these old town hubs.  The heritage society has preserved the original facade of the building and inside it is paneled in old-fashioned wood.  It makes for a great writing atmosphere.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ earrings
Do you have a website or online store?
I do not have an online store and have no real plans to open one for my jewelry.  I find that people like to see and touch my pieces before they buy. I have sold online in the past, but I've discovered that the additional paperwork, photography and taxes involved has made it cost and time prohibitive.

I maintain a website for my work.  It is a gallery to display my jewelry and for customers to keep track of where I will be at shows.  I use the website mainly to display my jewelry to promoters when I'm jurying into a new venue and to link to articles that I write in the jewelry or gemological field.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ Garnet Byzantine

What other ways do you market your work?
I have an established venue circuit where I sell my work.  Juried Fine Art/Craft shows that are held in conjunction with music festivals, Scottish Highland Games and Science Fiction Conventions.  I love working outside in my booth.  Where else can you make a living under the trees on a beautiful day?  Word of mouth has done me well. I have many repeat customers at these events.

Do you teach? if so, where?
I am often approached to teach by studios or by individuals, but somehow the right venue has not opened for me.  I tend to be rather busy between my shows and writing.  One day I would not mind teaching, but for now it is on the back burner.

Any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Be honest with yourself.  Do you have the self discipline to set your own hours and do the work required to have a successful business? Have you focused not only on the artistic side of this profession, but also on gaining the business and marketing skills necessary to promote your work as an artist?  Metalsmithing is a physical and demanding professional with long hours and much risk. Setting up a studio with equipment is costly as are paying for booth fees to sell your work. You will not have many of the perks that people who work for others take for granted. If that does not scare you, then welcome!  There is a certain amount of freedom in working for yourself that can not be matched anywhere else. Also, the joy of seeing another person love your work enough that they wish to purchase it and make it their own is a wonderful feeling.  For me, this has made all the difference.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ Sterling Rhodonite Tree

Where do you envision your work going in the next year?
With the rising cost of metals, I am wondering how much longer I will be able to work in sterling silver.  I'm exploring more ways to use copper both in jewelry and as wall art.  I'm growing more focused on writing and working as a gemologist and hope to expand my presence in these areas over the next few years.

Anything else you would like to share?
Please feel free to visit my website and follow my blog: www.indigoskye.com
Like my Facebook Business Page: http://www.facebook.com/indigoskyebead
Follow me at Twitter: http://twitter.com/wvancamp

Friday, September 2, 2011


A few weekends ago we took a trip to Arcosanti Arizona. Arcosanti is a remarkable living laboratory project that was conceived by Italian architect and sculptor Paolo Soleri (b 1919). In this blog post I will give a short review of our stay and point anyone interested to the Arcosanti website for information about this inspiring project.

A view of the main building holding the Bakery, Cafe, Gallery and Reception area

The most simple way to describe Arcosanti would be that it is an experimental city being constructed by volunteers from around the world (most often architects, artists and free thinkers). It is currently housing between 20-100 residents, who live and work there year round as volunteers and students of the philosophies of Arcology http://www.arcosanti.org/theory/arcology/main.html .The Website for Arcosanti will also tell you about their beautiful silt cast bells and has a detailed schedule of their exciting performances and events .

a selection of bronze silt cast bells available in the shop

A short history:
 "In 1970, the Cosanti Foundation began building Arcosanti, an experimental town in the high desert of Arizona, 70 miles north of metropolitan Phoenix. When complete, Arcosanti will house 5000 people, demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our destructive impact on the earth. Its large, compact structures and large-scale solar greenhouses will occupy only 25 acres of a 4060 acre land preserve, keeping the natural countryside in close proximity to urban dwellers." (from the Arcosanti Website http://www.arcosanti.org)

We decided to visit Arcosanti after hearing about the incredible performances that are held there on a regular basis.Not being a huge fan of crowds I thought it would be interesting to go there during a "down time"- in the heat of the summer- to simply experience the setting (and to "cambiare aria" (change air) before settling into our school routine for the year. )

Daisy by the pool. Note the "pod like" artist studio with circle windows in the distance

I think it was a good choice, because we had a peaceful few days, however, the heat was quite oppressive so I'm thinking that we would not go in August again. I really have a hard time dealing with extreme heat (though I live in Arizona) so I did more reading than hiking. (Cosmo and his Dad hiked in the early mornings). 

There is also a pool on site that we very much enjoyed at the end of the long hot days. I look forward to going back in the cooler months to experience the trails and landscape more completely. I could even see going by myself for a few days in order to retreat and work on a project.
MBZ in the "vaults" - the largest performance/meeting space at Arcosanti

One idea I have is for interested participants of next year's SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference to take a field trip to Arcosanti to observe their foundry and daily silt cast bell production. At the very least, I would recommend a visit to the Cosanti foundation (closer to the conference, in Scottsdale) which is Paolo Soleri's home and sculpture studio. (Cosanti is also open to the public and has daily tours.)

Arcosanti Arizona is located about 35 miles east of Prescott and a little over an hour north of Phoenix. (It took us about 3 1/2 hours to drive there from Tucson) For more information see http://arcosanti.org
and you can also find the Arcosanti project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1069939853

A Story of Diamonds: Marcel Tolkowsky and the Modern Brilliant

A special thanks to Andrea Robinson, who had provided us with this article on The Story of Diamonds, which was originally written and published at 

The Modern Brilliant was born in 1919 from the mathematical calculations of Marcel Tolkowsky.  As a member of a family of Belgian diamond cutters he had a certain interest in making beautiful diamonds.  As an engineer, he studied the way light behaves within a diamond and determined the combinations of angles, facet sizes and shapes needed to maximize both the fire and brilliance that a diamond displays.

Fire is the term applied to the spectral colors reflected out of the heart of a diamond.  Brilliance is the amount of light returned to the viewer.  Sparkle, or scintillation, refers to the combination of these two factors.
He determined that if a diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, light will leak out and the diamond will not be as bright or fiery as it could be.  Moreover, the shape and size of each facet is important to the amount of light returned to the viewer.
The Modern Brilliant cut consists of 58 facets, or 57 if the culet is excluded: 33 facets on the crown and 25 (or 24) on the pavilion.  Contemporary diamonds are usually cut without a culet.

Tolkowsky's model is the basis of every new round brilliant cut.  Over the years, advances in science have allowed us to refine these guidelines into spectacularly sparkly diamonds.  Some, like the Hearts and Arrows cut, rely on exacting specifications regarding pavilion and crown angles, table size, girdle thickness, facet sizes, and alignment.  Alignment refers to how well the crown and pavilion line up.  Perfect alignment is when, at the girdle, the points of the kite and crown facets match up with the pavilion mains and lower girdle facets.
You can see in this next image that the precise cutting is somewhat visible in the finished stone without the special viewer.  The red viewer images show that the cut is not exactly perfect, as the hearts are not uniform and the arrows are a little off.
This fancy vivid yellow is a stunning example of excellent cutting by Eight Star, the company that pioneered the Hearts and Arrows cut.
Next time, we see how a round brilliant diamond is made.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beth Wicker: Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio ~ Artist Interview

This week for our Artist Interview we have Beth Wicker - thanks so much for sharing with us Beth!!!

Beth Wicker
How would you describe what you do as an artist? 
I'm all about creating, so I use a range of media - whatever will work to get the idea in my head out into the open.  Currently my primary media is metals, but I also work in mixed media fibers, paint, make original prints, and create handmade paper.
What inspires your designs?
Patterns - I love patterns!  I find them primarily in nature, but also in traces of the human presence on earth.

© Beth Wicker ~ Leaf Earrings
How long have you been involved in this type of making?
Back in the dark ages when Public Television actually taught subjects my mother would find out what art classes were coming up, get the supplies, and we would all sit in front of the television and learn whatever that class's technique was.  My mother took me to adult classes by the time I was about 10, and I've been learning ever since.  I did metals a bit as a kid, at home and at summer camp, but got back into it in a big way when my daughter wanted me to teach her when she was 10 - that circle of life thing going on.

© Beth Wicker ~ Dogwood
Where are you located?
I live on a farm with a lovely pond, just outside of Cheraw, SC, not too far from the NC border, and about half way between Charlotte, NC and Myrtle Beach.
Do you have a website or etsy store?
I sell on Etsy - http://www.bethwicker.etsy.com
I have a website:   http://www.bethwicker.com
And a Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/ThreeCatsandaDog
and I just opened a shop at Handmade Artists: http://handmadeartistsshop.com/shop/ruralart

© Beth Wicker ~ Pod Series #1

What other ways do you market your work?
I have a number of galleries and gift shops that carry my work and bring me in for trunk shows.  I do retail and wholesale shows, and a good bit of custom work.
Do you teach? if so, where?
I teach through area arts commissions, generally what I call "make and take", where I bring all the tools and materials and folks leave with a finished product.
Any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Don't quit the day job yet!  Making a living as an artist takes WORK!  And you MUST market yourself!  I see too many artists not doing enough marketing.

© Beth Wicker ~ Inner Landscapes

Where do you envision your work going in the next year?
I just took a workshop with Michael Good and learned anticlastic raising.  I already do repousse' and chasing, and I see my work getting much more three dimensional in the next year.  I'm also beginning to explore tableware and vessels.
Anything else you would like to share?
Love my rolling mill!  I use it for texturing (back to the whole pattern thing), and keep playing with new ways to add texture, pattern and color to my work.  I blog about new techniques and tools at http://bethwicker.ganoksin.com/blogs/

© Beth Wicker ~ Art Deco Pendant

Beth has also been working with Ganoksin on a couple online exhibits. 
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder can be seen HERE.
A blurb about the exhibit:

The drive to adorn the human body is surely as old as human kind.
Early jewelry was made of bones, shells, sticks, and whatever other materials the people could find and shape.  Over time the ability to mine and shape metal developed, and jewelry was made from bronze, silver, gold, platinum and other metals.  Gold has long been thought of as a “precious” metal, and today it is joined by silver and platinum as the three main materials modern jewelry is made from.
While much jewelry today is made from these three main metals, a large body of jewelry world-wide is still made from a much wider range of materials.  This exhibition, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”, focuses on jewelry made primarily of materials other than gold, platinum and silver.  
Jewelers today are still using found objects such as shell and bone; they are using “green” materials – upcycled and recycled objects and materials; they are using cutting edge plastics and newly developed technology; and they are using older metals such as copper, brass and bronze. Some of the more unusual materials include vinyl LP’s, velvet, VCR components, rattlesnake vertebrae, corian, canvas, paper, crab claws, magnets, synthetic rubber electrical insulation tubing, and aluminum grounding wire.