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Hello and welcome to ART Talk, a series of conversations with the artists and master craftsman that make our world a more beautiful place. What inspires them to create? What does it take to make it in the world of handmade? Today I'm joined by artist, mother, small business owner, master craftsman, jeweler and nature lover Dina Varano. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Dina has had a presence in the Connecticut River Valley for nearly thirty years. After spending several formative years living and studying in Italy, Dina settled into her studio, nestled deep in the woods surrounding her home and retail space in Chester, Connecticut. At her shop, that fittingly carries her name, Dina displays her stunning collection of jewelry and artwork as well as a mindfully curated collection of the works from other artists. She continues to draw inspiration from the natural beauty at her doorstep.
“I am inspired by nature. I study and explore through drawing in charcoal. My goal is to capture this essence and gesture in metal. I want to show the mark of my hand in each piece and achieve a rhythm of grace and movement. My parents are dancers, at an early age I learned the grace of rhythm and movement which has become a formative influence in my work. I want my jewelry to inspire and welcome play with the wearer.” ~Dina Varano
Our guest on Metalsmith Benchtalk on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm PST is jeweler Todd Reed, best known for his innovative use of raw diamonds.
Please join us for this live interview and participate by logging onto the chatroom or by sending a message to Whaley Studios via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
In 1992, Todd introduced the aesthetic of the raw diamond to the fine jewelry industry. With designs that challenge the common perception of luxury jewelry, Todd's work is one-of-a-kind wearable art for the true individual.
Todd pulls inspiration from the endless beauty found in nature--the most intricate details of the natural world can spawn an entire collection. Since the beginning, Todd has been involved in every step of the process. All pieces are inspired, designed and hand-fabricated in Boulder, CO and Venice, CA with recycled metals and diamonds that have been purchased through reputable sources.
At a very young age, Todd Reed was introduced to the world of fine art. His mother, a renowned commercial illustrator, ensured that Todd’s childhood was filled with creative work. When Todd was 10 years old, he witnessed a silversmith at work, and it forever changed his perception of design. “I watched in awe as this man turned sheet metal into body adornment in what seemed to be a very short amount of time,” says Reed.
Throughout his adolescence and early adulthood, Todd was drawn to creative arts such as culinary arts, painting, sculpting, clothing design, leather work and eventually, jewelry design. While in his teens, he graduated from culinary school with a developed appreciation for process before result.
Visit www.toddreed.com for more information
Our guest on Metalsmith Benchtalk on January 15th, 2015 at 3:00 PST/ 5:00 CST is artist and jeweler Jesse Bert.
Please join us for this live interview and participate by sending us your questions via social media (via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook ) or by logging onto the chat room.
Originally from the U.S, Jesse relocated to Mexico in 2006. With eleven years of experience as a jeweler, Jesse has a BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from Rochester Institute of Technology, and an MFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from East Carolina University in North Carolina.
Jesse’s prefered work format is sculptural jewelry that incorporates recycled and found objects. Over the past five years Jesse has taught metalsmithing and jewelry techniques on a regular basis, to students of all skill levels, at his private studio in San Miguel de Allende, Gto. He also teaches annual workshops around Mexico as well as in other countries.
“When I am not teaching or working on new pieces, I love to be outside. I tend to my cactus collection or spend time exploring the Mexican countryside and hiking in the mountains.”
Visit his website and Facebook Page.
Our guest on Metalsmith Benchtalk on Thursday, January 8th, 2015 at 3:00 PDT/ 6:00 EDT is New Zealand jeweler and taxidermist Julia deVille.
We invite you to participate in this live interview by logging onto the char-room or sending a message to Whaley Studios via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
About Julia: Arriving in Australia from New Zealand on the cusp of adulthood, deVille trained as a jeweller and learned further crafting skills studying shoe design before her long hunt for a taxidermy mentorship was successful. Driven by a strong commitment to animal rights, deVille’s sculptural assemblages belie the heroic, trophy-hunting culture associated with mounting dead animals. In a form of gentle protest she combines precious gems and metals with antique ‘ready-mades’ to challenge our disregard for and consumption of both wild and domesticated fauna.
Commissioned by Hobart’s MONA to create a permanent installation in 2011, deVille also won the City of Hobart Art Prize in 2012. She has taken out the People’s Choice Award in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize twice, and in 2006 her work was included in the MCA’s important Primavera survey exhibition. deVille’s work was acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in 2012. She exhibits regularly in Australia and overseas.
Our guest on Metalsmith Benchtalk on Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 3:00 pm PST is French Canadian jewelry artist Matthieu Cheminee.
Please join us for this live interview and participate by logging onto the chat room or by sending a message to Whaley Studios via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
“I was born in Paris and at the age of 19 moved to Taos, New Mexico, where I started learning jewellery making from Navajo, Hopi and Zuni silversmiths. Seven years later I moved to Mali, West Africa where I studied with Touareg and Bambara jewellers for several years.
I then established myself in Montreal where I joined a jewellery school to learn a more classical view of the trade. Since my arrival there I have been making jewellery and selling it in galleries and shows throughout Canada and the United States. For the past seven years I have been teaching jewellery at a professional school.
For many years now, I have been working to give back to the West African jewellers who taught me and have given me so much. One of the ways I have been doing this is through a teaching collaboration. I have been filming old techniques in Guinea, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso and then creating a course from those videos. I offer these classes in Montreal and split the proceeds with the African jeweller. The revenue created by this equitable collaboration is leading to formidable changes in the lives of these wonderful and skilful jewellers.
I have also been giving many conferences on West African jewellers, their techniques and their day-to-day lives. My hope is to open a jewellery school in Guinea in the near future.”
My guest this Thursday, July 26th at 3 p.m. PDT on MetalSmith BenchTalk is David LaPlantz (aka D. D. Deco), an active, producing jeweler and metalsmith. He flirts back and forth between jewelry and social commentary sculpture.
About: David LaPlantz is included in Who’s Who in American Art and Who’s Who in the West and was named Humboldt State University’s “Outstanding Professor” in 1981. He received a Fulbright Grant in 1985 to travel throughout New Zealand to conduct master jewelry workshops, and received the Humboldt State University “Scholar of the Year” Award in 1994.
From 1967 through 2002, LaPlantz led an energetic dual life as both a full time jewelry and metalsmithing teacher and full time studio artist. Balancing his precious time between the two, he carved out a career comprised of imparting knowledge and creating art jewelry and sculpture, while trying to retain his sanity. LaPlantz is currently a full time studio artist living on the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
LaPlantz has always been an active, productive jeweler and metalsmith. His most recent jewelry involves the use of Vegetable Ivory (tagua nut) and /or industrially painted aluminum, which he engraves, stacks and cold connects together. LaPlantz’s sculptural pieces visually explore more political and philosophical topics such as blacklisting in the entertainment industry, payola scandals in the music industry and in radio, along with the “spoken word” as demonstrated in his ‘Art Microphones.’
For more information, visit http://laplantzstudios.com/.
My guest on Thursday, June 5th at 3 p.m. PDT on MetalSmith BenchTalk will be artist, craftsman, and jeweler Jim Grahl of J.Grahl Design.
About: My name is Jim Grahl. I'm nearing 65 years old, 48 of those years have been continuously devoted to jewelry and industrial design. My training initiated with a Los Angeles workshop that was the contract (or outsource) manufacturer for Van Cleef and Arpels, Gump's, Pierre Touraine and many others that were the foundation of the West Coast's fine Art~Jewelry establishment. I have formal apprenticeships in Pave' setting (Gerardo Terranova) and ancillary training in platinum-smithing, machining, and antique musical restoration.
My personal business (J.Grahl Design) was founded at the outset and has been in continuous operation for 47 years. (as of 2011). I'm a maker-builder at heart. All of the items shown in the photographs and illustrations here, on "Custom Made", are exactly that... Custom Made. You will see many cross over categories in metal, wood, glass and illustration-art. I am deeply involved with both vintage autos and surfing, so items relating to those topics are exposed here as well. There are generally a few of my projects available for live viewing at the Museum at the Gemological Institute of America as well as The San Diego Natural History Museum.
Our range of services is extensive. Our experience includes designing, photography, prototyping, project development, and jewelry fabrication. In addition, we also have experience with mechanical music mechanisms, illustration, computer engineering and design development (CAD), restoration of jeweled items and consulting.
For more information, visit: http://www.jgrahldesign.com/.
Our guest on Metalsmith Benchtalk on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 3:00 pm PST is award winning jeweler and metalsmith George Sawyer.
We welcome your participation! Log into the chatroom or send a message to Whaley Studios via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter if you have a question for George during the interview!
George Sawyer is the Society of North American Goldsmith’s winner of this year’s Award of Excellence in Jewelry and Metal. He is the originator and internationally recognized master of gold mokume gane or "wood-grain metal".
George Sawyer designs Mirror ImageTM wedding and commitment rings, earrings, pendants, men's jewelry, custom pieces and other unique wearable fine art.
Looking at George Sawyer’s mesmerizing work is like gazing at clouds – you can see almost anything: water, wood, silk.
“I have always loved the refinement, color and subtlety of Japanese art. Here are some historic pieces of Japanese art metalwork, all
relating to the art of the sword, that have inspired my work.The pieces have a wonderful harmony of composition, color,
sculptural shape and fulfillment of purpose.”
EXPOSITION with Valerie Thomas and Mike Thompson will feature Courtney Richie, Glass artist and jewelry designer with Courtney B Designs on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 2:00 pm. Some of her specialties include lampworked and flameworked glass beads. With her association with Melodic Grove, she makes goat milk products including soaps and other down to earth healthy products.
My guest on Thursday, May 15th at 3 p.m. PDT on MetalSmith BenchTalk will be Marc Choyt, the Director of Fair Jewelry Action, USA and President of Reflective Images.
About Marc: Marc is a social entrepreneur and President of Reflective Images Inc, a designer jewelry company located in Santa Fe, New Mexico which has won several awards for excellence and converted its entire production to recycled precious metal. In addition to producing designer Celtic jewelry, Reflective Images focuses on artisan sourcing/production and was the first company in the US to offer a broad range of fair trade gold wedding and engagement rings.
About Reflective Images: Helen Chantler and Marc Choyt, a husband and wife team, started our company in 1995. Previously, Marc was an English teacher at a school for Native Americans. Helen was a jeweler working for another company. The company grew tremendously and at one point, we were selling our jewelry in hundreds of stores and catalogs in North America. Since 2009, we have been focusing on our websites and our Santa Fe jewelry store.
To learn more, visit: http://www.celticjewelry.com/ or http://www.artisanweddingrings.com/.
Fair Jewelry Action (FJA) is a Human Rights and Environmental Justice Network within the jewellery sector. FJA promotes ethical and fair trade jewellery practices by advocating traceability and transparency in the jewellery supply chain. The CRED Foundation is providing developmental support for FJA as an autonomous organisation as it delivers activities in accordance with CRED’s charitable aims and objectives.
To learn more, visit: http://www.fairjewelry.org.
Katie O'Neill, Co-Owner, Mushmina
Mushmina employs fair trade artisans in developing countries. We find a market for their crafts while providing our US customers with an opportunity to contribute their purchasing power to our social mission.
Katie O'Neill graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in Crafts in ‘04. She built her career as an independent jeweler, stylist and visual merchandiser for H&M in New York City. She studied Cultural Anthropology with a focus on handicraft in Mali and Morocco. Katie and her sister co-founded Mushmina in ’09 in which she serves as designer and creative director of their fair trade fashion brand and retail stores.
My guest on Thursday, April 17th at 3 p.m. PDT on MetalSmith BenchTalk will be jeweler, designer, and educator Jayne Redman.
About: “Nature provides an endless reference for imagination and invention. The linear quality of stems and the fullness of flower buds inspire my jewelry. I enjoy integrating mechanics with design, allowing each piece to function in a visually intriguing way. I work with multiples of the same shape, engineering them to fit precisely, giving an abstract interpretation of their botanical source. Many years of metalsmithing have taught me the power of simplicity. My forms begin as flat metal shapes and arrive as small sculptures. Their complexity is in their conception as curving planes of origami.”
Jayne Redman earned her B.F.A. in Jewelry and Silversmithing from Maine College of Art in 1977. She began her career in New York as a design and production assistant in the fashion jewelry industry. She started her company, Jayne Redman Jewelry, in 1982. Jayne began developing the Floraforms™ Collection in 1995. In 1998, the American Craft Council selected a piece from her collection as “representative of the quality of work found at all ACC events” to use in advertising their wholesale markets.
Jayne has been featured in articles for Crafts Report, AJM, Lapidary Journal, Professional Jeweler, Niche, and Ornament magazines as well as a number of books. Jayne is a former faculty member of the Maine College of Art Department of Jewelry and Metals and teaches workshops nationally. She maintains a studio in southern Maine and is represented by fine jewelry and craft stores across the country.
To learn more about Jayne, visit: http://www.jayneredmanjewelry.com.
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