Interview with ~Silverartgirl

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An interview with Silverartgirl -  A truly versatile artisan.  Thank you Erika for doing this for the club and all it's members!

Make sure to visit :iconsilverartgirl:'s fabulous gallery and leave some comments and faves!

How did you get started doing your artistic crafts?

Without going into the long detail of various classes at the Toledo Museum of Art and classes from high school, I’ll try to stick to my college career thus far.  I learned about art schools from a very inspirational high school art teacher.  From then on, I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue although I did not know in which particular area.  I decided on the Cleveland Institute of Art because it had a 2 year foundation program (this has since changed) and I felt this program would give me time to decide on an area.  The year before I had to choose my major, I took one Metals class and one Glass Blowing class.  It took me literally until the last few minutes before turning in the paper declaring a major to decide between the two.  Now that I look back on it two years later, I could not imagine having picked anything but Metals.  I love the scale, amount of time required, detail, and the possible use of alternative materials.  There is so much variety possible in this medium that it’s almost impossible to choose a singular direction.  As a result, a lot of my work has used a variety of materials, sizes, techniques, etc.  (Although some of those things have been assignment driven.)  I enjoy working in multiples because it gives me a chance to master these skills as opposed to doing it once and moving on.  Although I consider myself an artist, I am still learning, and I hope that is something that will never stop.


What tools and materials do you use?

My favorite metal to work with would have to be silver, it cuts nicely, files nicely, solders nicely, etc.  I use copper a lot as well, however, it does not work particularly well when in close contact to the body, as everyone who has ever gotten a green mark around their finger from a copper ring knows.  As a result, I use copper mostly in enameling.  I enjoy being able to add color to my work, so resins and enamel become very important to me for that purpose.  As far as techniques go, I am all about movable and hidden parts in my work.  So learning how to make hinges, screws, clasps, and closures has been very valuable to me as well.

You work in various materials- metals, resin, stoneware, etc... do you favor any one over the others?

I feel that all materials have their place and depending on what I am trying to make one material becomes more practical than another.  Metal is a much more durable material and moves a lot differently then stoneware, for example.  There is a certain amount of force that is required to move metal so it has a tendency of maintaining its shape better.  Stoneware is incredibly easy to build with and add on to.  Soldering is not necessary.  So all you have to do is take one piece of clay and blend it into another.  And resins have a nice lightweight feel and well as a certain amount of flexibility, not to mention the easy addition of color.  Unlike enamels, it does not crack although it picks up dirt a lot easier.  So it really just depends.

Can you give us a short tutorial on making a belt buckle?

That depends on what kind of belt buckle you want to make.

My Starburst Belt Buckle was done with minimal soldering and use mostly cold-joining techniques because of the use of enamel.  There are three separate panels in this piece, all joined by a single rod that runs all the way through them.
First, I start with a design and pierce it out of the metal.  This would require having a drill press (for sawing any interior shapes), saw frame, and blades.  This allows me to get the shape I want to use as well as any design within the piece.  Once I have my three panels cut to the shape I need them, I would start to dome the top two panels on a rounded stake with a rawhide mallet in order not to mar the metal.  At this point I would drill the hole for the rod through the middle and bottom piece.  Once my pieces are drilled, I can enamel the middle panel with a design or single color.  After that, I solder my rod to the underneath of the top piece and solder my findings to the bottom piece.  At this point, the metal can be sanded to remove any scrapes and is ready for polishing.  To finish, I run the rod that is attached to the top panel through the other two panels.  My belt buckle stays together through the use of a rubber ‘O’ ring on the back that sits into groves that I have filled into the rod.


In the case of the Fetus Belt Buckle and DNA Belt Buckle, these buckles each have two panels that are joined together entirely through soldering.

Again I start with a design and pierce it out of the metal.  At this point I would sweat solder the two panels together.  This means that you would flow solder onto the pierced out piece until it was entirely covered.  I then place this piece on top of the solid piece and heat it until the solder flowed again and the two pieces joined together.  (This may take several reheatings in order to completely join the two panels with no gaps.)  Once joined, I would then shape the metal over an appropriately shaped stake.  Finally I would solder the findings on, clean up any excess solder, sand and polish the belt buckle


Where does your inspiration come from?  

I am inspired by new processes and material exploration.  I love things that are not exactly what they appear to be or that challenge the traditional or appropriate use on an object.  A single material or technique can inspire several pieces for me and this can always provide a new challenge that I can learn from.  If you are looking for more of a theme, however, I am fascinated by aquatic life.  I have been surrounded by aquatic life for the majority of my life and find the shapes and colors very compelling, like nothing else in the world.


How difficult was it to construct “Chest”?  

That piece is an interesting one for me to talk about.  I’ve gotten a lot of comments about it from various people telling me how much they like it and whatnot, but I myself have yet to fall in love with it even after its completion.  This piece started with me wanting to learn how to make mokume-gane, a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns that usually resembles wood grain.  However, I did not just want to use this process for the sake of using it.  I wanted the wood grain look to have some actual purpose in the piece.  In my studio I actually had a box of old doll house furniture that had never been used and was quite sad since most of the pieces were now broken.  That sort of became this inspiration for the piece.  With having so much detail on the rest of the piece, the back seemed to be a bit lack luster.  This was originally going to be a brooch, placed on the chest so, it became a bit of a play on words.  As far as the difficulty in construction, it did become quite a challenge.  When two metals are fused, in the case of mokume-gane, it lowers the soldering temperature, limiting the number of grades of solder I could use.  Although the piece is only 3 ½ inches tall, it required a lot of heat to get solder joints to flow and this caused some problems for me with the mokume-gane bubbling and needing to be replaced.  I have learned so much from this piece that if I were to redo it now, I would change the method and order that I did things.  As far as how long this took, it becomes a little bit hard for me to judge since being in school, I have multiple projects going at once, lose interest in some projects for a period of time, or have another deadline that takes precedence.  I worked on this for an entire semester, with probably a month long break from it due to some frustrations.  


How do you go about incorporating “found” materials in your work?

Usually, I would say that my work is inspired by the materials I find.  In the case of the Top Ten Most Stolen Cars and the use of the tail lights, I happened to be walking through a parking lot on the way to class and found some relatively large pieces of broken tail lights.  They sat in my space for some time but having my car stolen the year prior, this seemed like a natural direction for the material to take.  And no, in case you were wondering, my car is not on the Top Ten Most Frequently Stolen Cars list.

The Sea Anemone Rings also came about in a similar fashion.  I had been doing some research on aquatic life after making my Sea Urchin Necklace/Brooch and had some of these images and thoughts in the back of my mind.  When walking through a local novelty store, I came across some of the koosh-type yo-yo balls with the silicon cones on them and finally knew what I wanted to make.

With that in mind, sometimes things just come to me and I cannot really pinpoint exactly where they come from.  The TV Dinner Flatware was something I had been thinking about for a while.  With a flatware project deadline in place, I was so worried about making something really forced and cheesy.  I had been playing with the idea of TV, remotes, satellite dishes, cables and could not seem to get anything to fit together in a coherent manner.  One of the sketches I had drawn was an AV Cable Fork and I was trying to force something to happen with the rest of the work.  I went to the library to start looking through some books, with the possible chance of changing my idea completely, when it finally came to me.  Three spokes, three utensils.  It seemed so obvious.  And it explained all the ideas that I was thinking about, literally being ‘attached’ to your TV.  


How difficult was it to make a piece like “Tic-Tac-Toe Bracelet” ?  

This is by far the most challenging piece I have ever undertaken.  I had never done hinges before, never made a project that had to be so precise in measurement, and never made a piece with so many moving parts.  There are 10 boxes with two pierced sides each and 9 cut out squares in each side.  That is 180 tiny pierced out squares with 30 pieces of the exact same size tubing used for the hinges.  I am a relatively quick at sawing, since it is one of my favorite processes.  However, once sawed, each square had to be individually filed, each box had to be soldered and finished separately, all of the boxes had to have two quarter round groves filed out of them on alternate sides so it could accordion fold, each hinge had to be soldered perfectly into place and each box had to be finished by hand since using a buffing machine would have caused dragging in the corner of each and every square.  I was so happy when I finally completed this piece and know I will always look back on it as one of my greatest accomplishments in fabrication.  


What techniques were used to create “Stingray Hair Pin”?

The Stingray Hair Pin was made on the Rhinoceros 3D modeling program.  Most of the challenge in making this type piece is learning how to use the 3D modeling program. This program provides four different windows to work in and you make objects through the creation of lines and surfaces based on those lines.  I planned for the cast in place stones in the program by making a tool in Rhino that allowed me to cut out 2mm tapered holes that the stones would be placed into.  Once finished on the computer, the file was sent to a 3D wax printer, which literally builds the piece by spraying a small stream of wax.  The texture on the piece is actually the visible layers of how it is built on the wax printer.  Usually this texture is removed through buffing or filing once the piece is cast.   However, sometimes it becomes a nice visual texture for a piece.  Once I had my wax model, I simply placed the stones securely into the wax.  There needs be a hole all the way through the piece so that once you invest the wax the stone is held in place by investment once the wax is burned out.  Cast in place stones are a special type of stone that can withstand large amounts of heat without changing color or fracturing, so you cannot use just any stone for this process.  Once the piece was cast, all I needed to do was clean it up, make the hair pin and solder it on.  


Do you take your own photos?  

Yes, I do take my own photos and I feel that there are three ‘tools’ that become very necessary to taking good photos of metal: a good camera, a light box, and Adobe Photoshop.  My digital camera is a Sony Cybershot DSC T50 7.2 mega pixel with a Super SteadyShot Optical Image Stabilization.  A light box becomes incredibly necessary in order to diffuse light to prevent glare on the metal.  And, although I have a light box, I do still use Photoshop to up the contrast and lighting on my photos.

Do you participate in any shows or exhibitions?  

I have been involved in three exhibitions so far.  The first one was the Student Independent Exhibition Show (SIE) at my school.  This was a juried show that I was lucky enough to get two pieces into, my Tic-Tac-Toe Bracelet and Sea Urchin Necklace.  The second exhibition was called Dinner by Design.  There were several artist involved in this show including other metal smiths, ceramicist, enamellers, and glass blowers.  There was a giant table set up with 12 different place settings that were collaborated on between the various artists.  In that show I had my TV Dinner Flatware, Couch Container and Better a Mouse in the Pot Spoon.  Finally, my most recent show was for Fashion Week Cleveland.  Although I had several pieces exhibited in this show, my Starburst Belt Buckle was actually worn on the runway by a male model.  I very much enjoy being involved in shows.  I think my interest is more in the networking of myself and my skills than in selling my actual pieces, since I am at a point right now where I am really only making one-of-a-kind pieces and am not necessarily looking to sell them.  I plan to be involved in as many upcoming shows as I can, and plan to start some production lines in the fall.  I hope to be able to get my name and my work out more.

Do you market your creations?

I do market some of my work, but most of my work that I try to sell is production work and not necessarily the one-of-a-kind pieces I make.  I have had people ask about the more individualized pieces and I have sold some and am willing to sell others.  However, there are pieces that I am still not willing to part with for various reasons.  I have done some commission work but find myself often having to turn away commission opportunities due to not having the time to make extra pieces during the school year and not having my own studio to work in during the summer when I do have free time.  The most success that I have had with selling my work has been with my production work over the holidays.  I have plans of starting a new production line this coming semester in the fall and have plans of having a website created over the summer.  Currently however, Deviantart is the website that I refer people to in order to see my work.  I have found people to be more receptive of work on this site than others and I appreciate the amount of hits that this site gets as opposed to any individual site I may have for myself.  I do have Myspace and Facebook accounts that I post pictures on as well.

Do you belong to any organizations and what benefits are there?  

I am involved in the Society of North American Gold Smiths (SNAG) which ‘encourages and supports professional excellence, education and the public's understanding of jewelry, design, and metalsmithing.’ This group invites everyone to join from jewelers, designers, collectors, educators, students, metalsmiths and others. By being involved in this organization I receive Metalsmith Magazine, newsletters (SNAG News) and emails (SNAGnet) about events and jobs, am invited to the annual SNAG conference with a $70 discount, as well as a community to network in.  




Status: Member
Art Student
Female/United States
Deviant since Feb 21, 2008, 12:38 AM


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dollmaker88's avatar
oh i have been watching her and this is wonderful. she is like a metal princess.

nice interveiw.