Thursday, February 21, 2013

Member interview with János Gábor Varga (aka Blind Spot Jewellery)

Maureen Brusa Zappellini (MBZ) here, Hello! I'm so happy to be bringing you this interview with one of our long time members, Janos Gabor Varga, (aka Blind Spot) He always has such interesting work to present to the group and a very specific point of view- Plus he has found a way to make quirky but sell-able work, which he sells online Etsy (where I first met him) and, as well as in shows and markets in and around his current home near Genoa Italy. Read on and find out more about this dynamic metalsmithing artist in his own words!

János Gábor Varga (aka Blind Spot Jewellery
MBZ: How would you describe what you do as an artist?
JGV:One of my first experiences with jewellery was an exhibition on ethnic rings in the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest, my hometown. There I saw beautiful works made by peasants, shepherds, soldiers, prisoners. People without art or jewellery education, equipped with simple tools and materials but with an elemental will to express their desires through a ring. It really touched me but it was much later when I got involved with the craft. In that time my interest was ethnomedicine (exactly ethnoveterinary) and I studied agriculture from college to uni. My means of expressing myself was written and spoken language. When I left Hungary I had difficulties with learning English and nearly everything I did or learnt before was hard to apply. So I felt that creating objects, wearable art could be my way of expressing myself.
Apart of a short evening class I never studied jewellery or art.  But I believe that you are an artist if you do art. Then others will judge if you are a good artist or not. Same applies for being a jeweler and for many other trades, fields.
I try to establish an intimate relationship with the materials I use and to create meaningful objects but I would like to do it in an inviting way: like if it could be done by anybody who has the will to express desires.
So, as an artist I would like to celebrate dilettantism. Whatever you studied, I would like to encourage you to trespass into other fields - and fertilize it with all your previous knowledge.

MBZ:what inspires your designs?
JGV:I am very much inspired by old buildings, tools that were used a lot. I think that when you are in good shape, the whole word around you becomes the potential source and inspiration of your work. That is a state of mind what we are looking for, it is very intense and joyful.

(Below is a short video Janos posted recently on Youtube, showing him playing with hot forming Iron at his bench)


Here is how that piece turned out:
MBZ: how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
It has been about 11-12 years. I started it short before I left Hungary, my country of origin. It became a passion and more than hobby in the UK and some years later my work, in Italy where I came 8 years ago.

MBZ:where are you located?
JGV:I am located in a small village near Genoa, the port of Northern Italy. It is a really picturesque medieval village in the mountains of the Apennines,  with a castle, a stone bridge and a charming center. My home/workshop is right in the high street (main street?).

This village has centuries of silver filigree tradition and even though I do very different work, it is important to me that I am surrounded by other artisans. We often help out each other with advices, tools, etc. I came here about 8 years ago, I love this place and this people and I consider it to be my home.

MBZ: do you have a website or etsy/artfire etc store? 

JGV:Yes, they are:

MBZ:what other ways do you market your work?(shows, galleries, brick + mortar stores)

JGV:Every so often I participate in shows. I think they are good occasions for presenting your work, meeting other artists and it is good fun too, I love opening parties! Brick and mortar shops are also important but I could never afford to do what I do without selling online.

MBZ:do you teach?
JGV:Till now I occasionally had the opportunity to teach. I really enjoy it so I hope it will happen more often. I have had a couple of beginner private students. In 2011 I have been invited by the State Art College of Venice to keep a presentation and workshop of one day on ferrous jewellery. Last year  the  Spanish (Catalan) Arsenal Art College asked me to take a trainee for two months. It was a very interesting and good experience.

MBZ:any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
I would say that these days a jewellery artist got to be online and communicative. It is also important to make good pictures of your work, so learn how to use a digital camera, a light box, how to retouch your photos etc.

MBZ: where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic direction)
I would really like to have some solo shows where I can present some of my collections all together.

MBZ:anything else you would like to share?
JGV:I am particularly attracted to iron. It is not much used in jewellery but I think it should be. It’s nature allows you to explore all sort of motions and forms and it makes you feel that the finished object you look at, is the result of some dramatic changes. It is a strong and sensitive metal and a pleasure to wear, both for women and men. Some years ago I riveted an iron bangle onto my wrist so together with one of the first rings I made, it is a permanent jewel and it means to me that iron and me got an affair with each other 
(This is Janos' latest project posted on his photostream on Flickr)

Thanks Janos! It was great to get a bit of your story - I'm happy to have you as a member of Metalsmiths Unite and I look forward to reading your future posts and seeing more of your point of view- Blind spot and all!

János Gábor Varga
Campo Ligure:
my work:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

MBZ Metalsmith: Tucson Gem show 2013- Early February

MBZ Metalsmith: Tucson Gem show 2013- Early February
Here's a slice of the Tucson pie:

Tucson Gem show 2013- Early February

 Ahhh, February In Tucson!
It has something special, really,
something for everyone- but the one thing
that I am really clued into is exciting for my line of work-
I am a Tucson resident (year round, have been for 20+ years) and a Metalsmith- I didn't move here for golf

No, it's not because of Rockabilly Valentines ball at Hotel Congress or the latest biking gadgetry being welded into art at BICAS , the fabulous make your own bike collective down near the train tracks....
Great hiking trails to enjoy here!

All of that is great- it is pure Tucson-however,  I moved here to get away from the Boston winters and to be close to the incredible culture of metalsmithing that has developed here as a result of the mining, cowboy and native American traditions as well as the Gem Show.
or, should I say,
"THE Gem Show(s)

So, I thought I'd do a insider's report from the front lines:

A report about the Gem show's subtle effects on my life. Subtle? Yes, I work in jewelry some of the time, but am lately much more inclined to using a piece of reflector before a faceted garnet. Also, I've lived here for years, so really, I have enough back stock of things from years ago, when I overindulged on things I just thought were beautiful, but didn't have a clear plan for.....

in short, I've been there enough that I really don't relish going anymore- and the Gem show(s) have instead become for me the time when a whole bunch of my friends and fellow metalsmiths are in town! And since I founded the group Metalsmiths Unite back in 2008 my pack of metalsmithing friends that visit town keeps growing and growing.

MU Chill Lounge 2011 (during the freeze)
I always look forward to the Metalsmiths Unite Chill Lounge night during gem show (4th annual this year!) If you are a Member of MU you can find out about this year's gathering on our home page on Facebook- (just look under the "events" tab on our FB page and you will be brought to the page with all the info- any problems, contact me via private message)

Other than getting together for the group gathering I get to visit with out of town friends---
In fact,  I get to see Lisa Slovis Mandel tomorrow- she's another Pewter person- in fact, she wrote the book on it! here's a link :-) The Pewter Studio by Lisa Slovis Mandel(it's a great book BTW- just wish I had met her before it went to print, because I would have loved to have had a couple pieces in the book...oh well, there's always volume 2!)

ciao for now-
Happy trails, and May the Flux be with you!
Maureen aka "Bzap" and
Daisy Doodle
Anyways, Gem show visitors, we Tucsonans are very happy to have you grace our fair city once again- Thanks for coming and bringing all of the great business! We do appreciate it! I hope you can wait just one more year for the streetcar project to be finished downtown. (it's going to be great when it is finished!) And we wish you fabulous weather during your stay. Please pass the word around about how much fun Tucson is to visit in the wintertime! We love getting the business!

PS- here is a handy link to the Gem Show Guide-
It is the BIG directory of all of the things happening at the shows in Tucson- you will need it, believe me! :-)