So nice to have a photo to share of an exhibition in which I have about 13 pieces of jewelry. Very cheerful! The title of the exhibition is called “Likeness,” and is on view till October 1 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s ARTSpace in Wisconsin.
From their website:
As part of our yearlong celebration of 50 years of art at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, ARTspace connects works by five contemporary artists to works housed in our collections. These works were not created in reaction or response to our collections; they were made unbeknownst to it in a separate time and space. However, the work bears a resemblance, a likeness in style, material, or concept.
I was very honored to be invited into this exhibition, a first for me in my fledgling jewelry endeavor. I’m familiar with the work of a few of the other artists, but a lovely surprise was being included with Ayn Hanna, whose work I’d admired at the American Craft Council Baltimore show in 2016.
I’ve always been an avid photographer, and with my graphic design background I use photography a lot in my client work. So I was excited to discover I could marry some of my images with jewelry in the form of decals on enamel. I also see decals as a way to finally incorporate some typography into my jewelry. Ideas are brewing.
I connected with enamel artist Anne Dinan who offers an online class. It’s self directed and she creates a Facebook page for students to share work and ask questions. I got a slow start because I was unable to locate a laser printer suitable for printing images on decal paper (all the information is available with class purchase). Anne was nice enough to print my images, but I’ve since found a friend with the right printer if I want to explore more.
The process is simple but has multiple steps. You do have to carve out time for this. It’s a bit of work to get the right results and I am just scratching the surface. As in most of my work, I have to embrace the failures and beautiful mistakes! Essentially you’re transferring the decal to a prepared enameled surface and firing it (either in a kiln or with a torch.) The decal substrate burns off and the toner reacts to the enamel and bonds to it. You can leave as is or play a bit more, with transparent enamels, watercolor enamel, graphite and enamel crayons. I also tried starting with a color instead of right (bottom left image) in order to get a more black image. The decal turns a rust color once it’s fired. I was looking for a black image and the orange background worked.
Although, curiously, the spore print image (bottom right) is black on white and I can’t recall now how I did that. Take notes!
Here are a few images from the process.
I’m also very excited to be taking an enameling workshop with the very talented Canadian artist Jan Smith up in Seattle this summer. The journey continues!
Jewelry photography is a vexing issue for people who want good images of their work for show applications and their website but aren’t ready to hire a professional. There are plenty of good tutorials such as this one also about using natural light, or this one with many jewelry photography tips, not necessarily using natural light.
I wanted to share my setup that uses inexpensive, accessible materials and natural light. In a future post, I’ll address some simple (sort of) retouching techniques for those who have access to Photoshop or similar, but for whom the idea of retouching images is intimidating. (Stay tuned.)
DIY or Professional? Some considerations
You’ll often hear that you must have professional photography, especially if you are applying to juried shows. That advice makes sense because it has to take into account the broad spectrum of applicants, which includes people who place their jewelry under a lamp with an incandescent bulb and submit a photo with harsh shadows and a yellowy cast.
But that isn’t you, right? There’s a whole swath of people in between that scenario and those hiring a pro who believe that a decent photo is within their reach if they just had the right set up. Read more
When I first saw the work of land artist Andy Goldsworthy, I was blown away. This was followed by envy that someone wasn’t paying me to prance around in the woods collecting and assembling leaves and twigs. Then I realized I was being an idiot. You do what you love because you must, just as I do when I scour a beach or the forest floor, not for anything particular, just for a thing of beauty that captures my attention. Only no one is paying me for it.
But I do use these things, not only as inspiration for artwork and jewelry, but as an essential clearing of the head. Nothing like a humbling dose of nature to remind you of your relative insignificance. I often gawk at what’s before me wondering why I bother making art or objects when nature has already done it. But then I soldier on and tuck these inspirations away for later. Read more