Making Wedding Bands

Last week, on August 24, we did it… Barry and I got married!I know that this will come to many as a surprise, as it did for us, but no worries, the big celebrations will take place next year, same date in Utica, NY.

I guess the saying ‘It never goes as planned’ is very true and it applies really well to our wedding ceremony and the making of our wedding bands.

A a jewellery maker, I am not allowed to make my own wedding rings. At least this is a very old and serious tradition in Germany. If you do it anyway, it is meant to be bad luck for your future marriage. Since I did not want to upset any marriage Gods, I knew for a long time that my good friend Christine Graf in Munich was going to be the one to make the rings for me. Barry had her make my engagement ring as well to my great surprise!

When Christine and I studied together in Birmingham in 2007, she wore this beautiful ring that she had forged from 24K gold. Previously, her aunt had given her some gold coins and she did not really know what to do with them, so she decided to turn them into something useful and make a ring for herself. She did not want to waste any of the material, so she did not cut or file it at all. Instead she forged it from a cast made of the coins. The traces of the hammer were still visible on the surface and gave it this really strong but very refined look. I liked the story of the making behind it and I knew then that this was going to be my wedding ring one day.

There is another very interesting detail one should keep in mind when choosing wedding bands. According to German tradition again, they need to be made from one piece. Bending and soldering the ring is not an option, since it will show a solder line, which is considered to be a sign for the marriage breaking one day. The ring needs to be made from continuous material, without a cut, so next to casting (the most popular option) the ring can be forged.

Originally, Barry and I had planned to get married in the autumn of 2013 but you know how it goes… ‘It never comes as planned’ and we had to hurry a little. Because of the shortness in time, Christine could not make the rings for us and my good friend Patrick McMillan from McMillan Metals in Providence offered to make them when I came to visit him for his birthday in early August. I am still thrilled and very thankful for his offer and generosity to do this for us. In return I promised to make his wedding rings one day, which makes me feel very honored and proud!

When Patrick and I talked about how to make the rings, we decided to make them from fine silver instead of 24K gold. Barry and my initial idea was to collect gold from the families and have it melt into the rings, so that there is the family and some meaning in the rings themselves. When I sat in Patrick’s studio, Barry and I had not even started to collect, so there was nothing to make the rings from.

Now, I think it was perfect sitting in Patrick’s studio not knowing what material to use, since Barry and I decided that we will have two sets of rings: The silver ones from our formal wedding ceremony and the golden ones, made by Christine, for the Big Wedding Bash next year with all our friends and family.

So, here are some pictures showing the process of the making. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Cuttlefish Casting.

The burned cuttlefish shell.

Super excited!!!!

The cast silver ‘bobbles’.

Patrick punching a hole.

Small hole.

Stretching the hole.

Medium hole.

Stretching the ring on a ring mandrel.

Bigger mandrel.

Big hole.

Final touch.

The finished rings.

We are married! 🙂

PS: Here is a picture of my beautiful engagement ring that Christine made for me from platinum, copper mesh and enamel.

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like my FB ProonK page.

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Sculpture Space Work in Progress Reception, Aug 22

Last week was a very hectic week with a lot of things going on. One of them was the ‘Work in Progress Reception’ at Sculpture Space. The current artists in the studio invited the public to share new ideas and have a look at their most recent works.

Four artists presented their newest creations:

Nova Jiang (Los Angeles, CA)
Jeff + Tara, The Friendly Falcons (Brooklyn, NY)
Cornelia Konrads (Bad Munder, Germany)
Jessica Segall (Brooklyn, NY)

It was the first time for me to attend such an event at Sculpture Space and I very much enjoyed it. I had been to the studio earlier on but this was the first time I saw it bursting with people and it was great to find that there is so much interest in art and such a big artist community in Utica.

The evening started off with a friendly welcome of Monika Burczyk, the Sculpture Space Executive Director, and continued with the artists introducing their work.

First, Jessica Segall introduced her beautiful body of work that was created through a residency in Alaska. Cornelia Konrads had just arrived to Sculpture Space the week before and briefly introduced some of her previous works, featuring book art and beautiful sculptures. The Friendly Falcons, Tara Pelletier & Jeffrey Kurosaki, finished the presentations with a very interesting music/image/sculpture performance.

In addition to the artists’ work, there was a sculpture of John von Bergen, the ‘Sculpture Drawing’ on display, which can be won in a very special prize drawing. 125 tickets for $100/pc are on sale until September 22. To purchase a ticket, please contact 315-724-8381 or click here to help support Utica’s international residency program.

The main Sculpture Space building.

Monika Burczyk welcoming the audience.

Jessica Segall introducing her work.

Jessica Segall

Cornelia Konrads

Cornelia Konrads

Cornelia Konrads

This is a video of the Friendly Falcon’s performance, seen through John von Bergen’s ‘Drawing Sculpture’.

John von Bergen, ‘Drawing Sculpture’

For more information on the individual artists, please have a look at their websites, there is a lot more beautiful work to see!

I am looking forward to the next Sculpture Space event, the CHAIRity Auction on September 22. The drawing of the John von Bergen Sculpture will be part of this event too. Come around to find out about the lucky winner!

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope to see you at Sculpture Space soon!

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like the FB ProonK page.

Stanley Theater Utica NY

I know I have mentioned this place a lot of times before but yesterday, Barry and I actually got the chance to get the Grand Tour around the Stanley Center for the Arts in Utica NY. Thanks to Maureen and Anne, who took us around the premises, we had the pleasure to see the theater in all its impressive glory. …and this is not an exaggeration, this place really is breath-taking! I never expected the Theater to be that beautiful. It really is a hidden gem in Utica that is worth visiting, either for a short pop-in or for one of their numerous shows and concerts.

Getting married at the Stanley is also a possibility for anyone who would like to tie the knot. Couples can choose from having the entire celebration on site or limit it to only the ceremony, reception or photo shoots.

I took a few pictures but they really do not show the proportions and beauty of the Stanley Theater very well. Really, if you are around Utica NY, come and have a look, it will surely not be a disappointment.

The beautiful Stanley Center for the Arts facade.

The Stanley Grand Lobby.

The Grand Lobby from the second floor.

The Grand Staircase.

The entrance of the Theater Stage.

The Theater from the stage with the big Meyda chandelier and the ghost light.

An ornament in the Theater Stage area.

One of the Theater exits, showing beautiful ornaments from Meyda.

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like the FB ProonK page.

‘Exupéa’

Earlier this year, I was asked if I was interested in taking part in the ‘FlourishRing‘ Exhibition at Kath Libbert Gallery in Saltsmill, UK. In 2010, I took part in their exhibition ‘IntoFlora‘ and I was very happy to hear that the gallery wanted to feature my work again.

The theme of the exhibition was inspired by the gallery’s 16th anniversary and asked for a ring with exuberant qualities. 100 jewellery makers around the world were asked to take part.

I am more of a brooch-girl, which means I have a preference of making brooches, rather than other forms of jewellery. I have, of course, made a few rings in the past but since it has been quite a while back, I decided to make a new ring for the exhibition.

Working on the ring turned out to be a lot of fun. It was very refreshing to walk new paths and experiment with ring shapes, rather than brooch fittings.

Based on the exuberant topic, I decided to work with a peacock theme. I wanted the ring to show off in every way but doing so with grace and style. I started fiddling around with Chinese fabric knots and peacock feathers but came to the conclusion that the feather is exuberant enough and I found it more intriguing to work with the peacock’s striking colours instead. I have been thinking about reintroducing enamel into my work for quite a while and this seemed the perfect topic for experimenting. I ended up working with different layers of enamel, trying to construct translucent glazes and give it a relief looking surface structure. The ring was completed with a big lavender coloured cubic zirconia stone in the middle, holding a rainbow colour changing LED.

‘Exupéa’, Ring, 2012, stainless steel, enamel, cubic zirconia, LED, battery box, light switch, cable.
Photography: Savinder Bual

The ‘FlourishRing‘ exhibition opened July 12 and will be on show until September 30. Next to ‘FlourishRing‘, there is another exhibtion, ‘Flourish‘, on show, featuring the work of ten international jewellery makers. During the exhibition period, the audience is encouraged to pick their favourite ring and have a picture taken with it. The ring that will have the most ‘likes’ in the end will win a £250 cash price. I will keep fingers crossed for all featured artists! You can have a preview on the rings on the gallery’s website to get a first impression.

If you happen to be in the UK, please go and check it out! The pictures of the exhibition opening looked really intriguing. Please don’t forget to send me a pic once you are there. I would really appreciate it!

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like the FB ProonK page.

Plasma Cutting, Sandblasting & Powder Coating

Recently, I spent quite a bit of time researching tools and metal-working techniques again and I thought it would be nice to share the information and maybe get some professional tips from you guys.

Plasma Cutting: The reason why I had a look into plasma cutting was because of my frequent use of laser cut elements in my art & design work. Ideally, I would LOVE to have my own lasercutting machine but even the used ones are still super pricey. The second-hand machines I found that are capable of cutting 1mm stainless steel sheet started around $20k. This is a price I can’t afford at the moment… not sure if I ever will but I very much hope I might be able to purchase one further down the road.

As ‘Plan B’, I heard about the possibility to plasma cut pieces and I decided to have a look into that technique. I found a company, PlasmaCAM, that offers plasma cutting systems. The system is made from a cutting table that holds a hand-held plasma torch and plugs into your personal computer (needs to be Windows). It comes with a software that enables you to cut customized shapes. I watched the demo-video and it seems pretty easy to me to operate. The system does not come with a plasma torch, so this machine needs to be bought separately. I guess this is good on one side, given that you can choose yourself which machine to work with and how pricey it can be. On the other hand it is an additional cost. I called up the guys from PlasmaCAM to inquire about the price of the 4×4 table, which comes to $6980. I was further told that a plasma torch for my needs would approximately be around an extra $2000. The shipment of the table would approximately come to $190, so the final price is somewhere around $10k. For me, this is still a pretty steep price that I cannot afford right now but I am happy to know that there is something out there that I could use for big designs further down the road. For my jewelry, I think I will have to stick to lasercutting after all. The cutting line of the plasma cutter is too wide for my designs. I need to be able to get more into details. Also, I heard that the cut on the back can be pretty messy and needs a lot of cleaning. I wonder if this depends on the plasma torch one uses? Probably also speed and temperature?

PlasmaCAM cutting table

Sandblasting: Further I had a look at a sandblasting machine. I will need one for my enameling-work and I was once again surprised by Rio Grande. (My new pink kiln arrived by the way and it waits for me to start working with it once the studio is set up. Read more about the pink enameling kiln story on the Rio Grande ‘The Studio’ blog ‘A Kiln of a Different Color’ and my research on ‘Enameling Kilns’). For the studio in Shanghai, we bought a sandblasting cabinet from Italy that I believe was around 2000€, so I started having a look at DIY home-built options, since I did not want to afford that much. Luckily, it seems like I will not have to go that far and build it myself, since I found a cabinet, the ‘Small Benchtop Pencil-Style Bead Blaster’ on the Rio Grande website starting from $145. It is not massive but big enough for my use and they also offer a bigger version for $185. All you need in addition is an air-compressor, which comes to $150-200.

Rio Grande ‘Small Benchtop Pencil-Style Bead Blaster’

Powder Coating: Yesterday night, Barry and I went to visit the Meyda Lighting company and workshop in Utica NY, and I was amazed by the dimension of their production! This place is glass and metal-working paradise! They really build all their beautiful lamps from scratch. Even the metal parts are hand-made. I was very impressed.
During the tour, we passed the powder-coating facility, which intrigued me quite a lot. I love using color in my work and I had heard of the technique before but I did not know how to use it. I conducted some research on it this morning and to my surprise, it does not seem to be complicated at all. I think I will give it a go in the near future. Have a look at this DIY garage-made video to see how it works.
Further, I had a look at the Eastwood website, a company that specializes in automotive parts and powder coating. They offer powder coating kits from $99.99 for the ‘Original HotCoat Powder Coating Gun’ and $169.99 for the ‘Eastwood Dual Voltage HotCoat Powder Coating Gun’. They also offer pretty attractive starter kits. In addition to the gun and the powder, you need a compressor and either a toaster oven or normal cooking oven that reaches a temperature of 400F.

Eastwood ‘Dual Voltage Powder Gun Starter Kit’

The World’s Largest LED Free-Hanging Chandelier was designed, engineered and installed by Meyda Lighting for the historic Stanley Center for the Arts in Utica, New York.

I am still trying to get everything together for my studio and nothing is set in stone yet, so if you have suggestions or better information on the mentioned tools, please let me know. I would appreciate your opinions and experiences.

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like the FB ProonK page.

‘Yin+-Yin’ – Suzy Solidor

Last year, when I was on vacation in Yang Shuo, China with my partner Barry, I was asked if I was interested in taking part in the ‘Mirror Mirror‘ exhibition in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. I was thrilled to read about the exhibition outlines, which turned around the life of Suzy Solidor, a French, homosexual nightclub-owner and singer, who got famous in Paris in the 1930’s. It was a great holiday surprise!

I had six months time to come up with a concept and making the piece. I was very thankful about the freedom in taking time, since it allowed me to conduct a lot of research and to play with multiple ideas, although I have to admit that I reach my true potential, when I am working under time-pressure. I am a true last-minute worker!

Researching Suzy was very exciting and sometimes full of surprises. I cought myself thinking that this woman really lived her life in full and that she did not leave any opportunity unanswered or open. I could feel a little jealousy creeping up from now and then, questioning the corners in which I could push myself further and explore. But then, I always consider the price and consequences my environment and I would have to pay and my desires readjust. I got the impression that consideration and respect was not necessarily always Suzy’s strength. In my opinion, she was a split character, living the highs but at the same time fighting with her own devils.

Here is my artist statement about ‘Yin+-Yin’:

Suzy & Suzy (‘Yin+-Yin’)

 

Suzy Solidor created a lot of myths, some during her lifetime, some after her passing.

 

‘Yin+-Yin’ is about the Suzy Solidor of my imagination.

A woman who seemed to know exactly what she wanted.

A sparkling and sexy super- woman on one side, self-centered, self-serving and spot-light addicted on the other.

 

The word ‘Yin+-Yin’ derives from the Chinese Yin and Yang, female and male. To every part belongs a counterpart. In Suzy’s case, being a celebrated lesbian, her counterpart must therefore also be female.

This results in two Yins: One positive Yin and one negative Yin.

 

‘Yin+-Yin’ is made from several elements. Suzy’s portrait, Suzy’s legendary heart brooch (pierced from two sides), the double-sexed zucchini flower, the crab and the uterus as the bearing spine of the piece, carrying a light in each ovary. The lights can be switched on, one at a time, putting the focus on either the Yin+ or -Yin side of Suzy. Each element stands for one of Suzy’s characteristics, where seeing them as a whole creates the completed image of Suzy.

 

‘Yin+-Yin’ is, just like its person of inspiration, a very versatile piece. It is meant to be worn on the belly, the center of femininity, but it can also be worn as a brooch or neckpiece.

Here is the piece, worn as a belt. I wanted to find a display for the piece that underlines femininity in every aspect and I decided to have it worn on the belly, around the area of the uterus.

This is the jewel worn as a neckpiece. The chain can be taken off entirely and the piece can also be worn as a brooch.

The ‘Mirror Mirror‘ Exhibition will be on display until September 23rd at Espace Solidor in Cagnes-sur-Mer and will then travel to Velvet Da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco in October.

Here is the list of the participating artists and some pictures of the show at Espace Solidor.
Unfortunately, in most cases, I don’t know which artist made which piece. So, if you happen to know who made which object, please let me know and I will tag it!

Emmanuel Lacoste – ‘La Vie Parisienne’

Maisie Broadhead – ‘Ssssssssuzy’

I hope you like ‘Yin+-Yin’ and that you can make it to the exhibition in either France or the USA. If you do, please write me a line and send me a pic! I would very much appreciate it!
See you there!

PS: Yang Shuo in the rain.

Thank you for reading.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK and like the FB ProonK page.