My silver charm designs for Hint Jewelry have been directly inspired by one of my favorite ceramic artists Frank Giorgini. His book Handmade Tiles has been my sculptural bible for at last 10 years.
Previously, while residing in Detroit, Michigan, I became an avid fan of Pewabic Pottery, truly a living treasure of the Arts and Crafts movement. Like other Michigan artists such as Gretchen Kramp and Melanie of Earthenwood Studio, I found inspiration in the Pewabic tile that surrounded me and looked for a way to put my own spin on it.
For several years, I delved into creating architectural tiles with gusto, focusing mainly on animal themes. Winter Elk is one of my first hand pressed tiles. I loved the immediacy of being able to sculpt clay, create plaster relief molds, and play with the spontaneous nature of glaze.
Nevertheless, I came to a point where I needed to downsize my life by making the most out of a small studio space and minimizing the amount of time it took to create art. These life constraints prompted me to look for a way to shrink my sculptural work into something more portable and efficient.
While waiting for a breakfast table at a local diner, I wandered into Dava Bead & Trade and found myself face to face with something I had been overlooking for a long time -- seeing jewelry as small, intimate, wearable art. I immediately started taking classes, working my way up to translating my ceramic relief tiles into metal clay charms.
If you are interested in learning more about metal clay, I recommend taking some books out of the library or treating yourself to Sherri Haab's The Art of Metal Clay. I spent countless hours perusing many different metal clay books, but Sherri Haab's clear instructions, simple projects, and concise technical information has been the only metal clay book I have kept on my shelf. Sherri Haab is a great teacher, so be sure to visit her Web site that explores metal clay, fiber, polymer, resin, and mixed media or check out her video on YouTube to get a taste for working with metal clay.
I came to metal clay after years of exploring sculpture in paper, fiber, mixed media, metal, and ceramic. Every technique I learned in these other mediums informs the work that I do in metal clay. If you are ready to embark on a journey into metal clay, I invite you to look at your current style and techniques and see how you might apply your previous knowledge to this new medium.
I recommend taking at least one class, so that you can benefit from a teacher's tips and experience as well as drawing on the camaraderie and inspiration of your creative classmates. Check out your local bead shop or art center for classes in metal clay or if you want to put a girls night out party together search for a Lilly Ollo near you and create fun heirloom charms with your friends.
If you prefer staying in the comfort of your own home, check out these online metal clay tutorials at Metal Clay Supply, featuring jewelry giants such as Hattie Sanderson and Tim McCreight.