Sir Ken Robinson: Does School Kill Creativity?

A lot of people might know about this video already. However, I stumbled over it this morning and I thought it is still worth sharing. I find it very mind-provoking and it got me thinking about the way I was educated in school. Given that I was robbed the chance to study art as a main subject in my final and most crucial years of school (because of a lack of student interest, so they never formed a class) and I had to concentrate on maths instead, I find myself wondering sometimes how things would have shaped out if I had had the chance to participate in those specialised classes. It is true that schools and school teachers might not necessarily be able and find the time to concentrate on a student’s individual needs and nurture their particular interests. So how much potential is really wasted and how many children never really get the chance to truly do what they were born to do? All that is being created is a mass of stereotypes.

Take Picasso for example. I am not sure how well he did in school or if he even went to school. All I know is that he obviously had a huge talent but so do a lot of kids. The difference is that on top of his talent, his interests were recognised. He was allowed to nurture his creativity and he was trained in the right direction from the very start. His family gave him the chance to develop his potential, rather than pushing him into stencils that society thinks are right.

Here is Sir Ken Robinson‘s TED talk and his views on the topic: ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’

To end this post, here is one of my favourite quotes by Pablo Picasso, which was also mentioned in the video:

‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’

Thank you for reading.

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Ideas to Materials in Contemporary Jewellery

Here is another video ‘Conversations about Contemporary Jewellery: Ideas to Materials‘ that interviews contemporary jewellery makers on their processes, ideas and materials in their work.

I always find it very fascinating to hear where other artists come from and what makes them thrive.

If you would like to read up on contemporary artists’ studio practices, check out the book ‘Jewellery Design and Development: From Concept to Object‘ by Norman Cherry (also read my post: ‘Reading 1: Amy Tavern & Inspiration in Books‘) It feels like one is sitting next to the artists looking over their shoulder when reading the book.

Thank you for reading.

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Art & Environment: A Sense of Place

I woke up very early this morning, so I thought it would be wise to use the extra time to do some research on possible future work developments. Things still haven’t completely unraveled in my mind but there is a glimpse of direction coming through. I find that I am very fascinated with the relationship in between humans and nature. How humans influence and manipulate nature and how nature fights to get back what is hers. There are several directions I would like to experiment with in the near future. They might or might not relate to each other. But even if they don’t, I think it can be very interesting to juxtapose the objects, since the topic of human and nature is very diverse and controversial in itself and it can be seen from a lot of different angles.

During my research this morning, I stumbled over a very recent blog-post of a fellow jeweller friend, Melissa Cameron, and I thought it would be great to share her post ‘A Meditation on Place’. The post features a video called: ‘Conversations about Contemporary Jewellery: Locating Place’.

As you might know, the influence of place plays a big role in my work and I can relate very well with what is being said in the interviews. Being born in Germany, having studied in the UK, having worked in Shanghai, China and now living in the USA has filled my mind with the strangest habits, cultures and influences, which can clearly be seen in my different bodies of work. Still, sometimes it is hard to find the self in it all, especially (as mentioned in the video) in addition to the internet that offers the world on a fingertip. I do agree though that by the end of the day, the culture and influences of one’s upbringing and home country are the ones that take the lead in defining who one is and what one has to say. It is as Helen Britton mentions when she says that if she had to choose in between Germany and Australia, she would have to go with Australia. Living in a foreign country helps to get the needed distance and a new perspective on the home country. It helps to focus and the new influences of a foreign country can be a great addition to the creative thinking process. I am happy to be living in the USA but if one asked me to make a choice, I am not sure I could be without Germany. I find this relationship in between art and upbringing very fascinating. Those early years shape how we see, understand and read things and deep down, they influence it all.

Thank you for reading.

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3D Printing, Janne Kyttanen & New Inspirations

Sometimes it happens that life delivers inspiration at exactly the right time without me even actively looking. I really like when this happens, since it feels like someone switched on a light bulb in my brain and the jungle of ideas in my head that could make up a new project suddenly magically unsnarls.

Today this Aha-Moment was given to me by Janne Kyttanen who decided to follow me on Twitter. I had never heard of him and I looked him up… and I was stunned. He is a designer, based in the Netherlands, who is very much interested in 3D printing. He started to investigate and work with this technology since the mid 90’s and his portfolio is very impressive. From his designs, over to founding his own business ‘3D Systems‘ to collaborations with shoe-designers, interior architects, jewellery artists (like Ted Noten) etc. Janne really likes to dip into multiple design disciplines. A fact that I find highly refreshing and inspirational.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 9.14.27 AMJanne Kyttanen Designs

Andreia Chaves invisible shoes, 2011Janne Kyttanen in collaboration with Andreia Chaves, Invisible Shoes, 2011

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 9.21.30 AMJanne Kyttanen in collaboration with Ted Noten, Fashionista Necklace, 2009

There are quite a few things that kept my mind busy lately. One thing that I have been thinking about for quite a while is that I would like to have my artistic work run in a new direction again and 3D printing is one technique that fascinates me. Back when I was still living in Shanghai, I purchased a 3D printer from Makible, a start-up company based in Hong Kong that offers a very price-tag friendly 3D printer, the MakiBox. At the time when I purchased the printer, I was not aware that they were just starting of (completely my misunderstanding) and that it would take some time for the product to be finished, so I could not yet try to work with a 3D printer. But some things are worth the wait and now, almost two years later, it seems like my MakiBox is finally in the post and I should receive it any time now. I so cannot wait!

Another thing is that recently I feel the urge to explore other art and design fields. For the last ten years I have mainly been working in jewellery and as of lately I feel like the small scale almost seems to ‘suffocate’ me from now and then. In order to get my mind free, I find it helps to work big sometimes or do something completely unrelated. (This is also one reason why I decided not to go to see the Schmuck 2014 exhibition in Munich this time.) Right now, I would love to indulge in making chandeliers and lamps and I would like to dive into sculptural art.

But to get back to 3D printing… As mentioned before, I am fascinated by the technique but I find it very controversy at the same time. A lot of artists have dipped into the field already, like jeweler Arthur Hash or the design team from Nervous System and I admire their work a lot. But for me, I love making things by hand, it forms an essential part of my designing process. Using a technology that is solely based on a machine fabricating an idea might not be enough for my bench-experience and it also raises a lot of questions as to how the making process in art and craft should and can look like. Does the artificial making process ‘water down’ the quality of work, since a 3D printer might soon be a house-hold stable in every home for everyone to use? Will art soon be something that every person can do by the mouse-click? Can suddenly everyone be an artist? Or will in the end the artistic mind take over and even in such an easy, approachable technology, the creative idea will determine the quality and level of the work? I assume the latter will be the case. In order to create objects, one needs to have a mind that can think accordingly but the question of whether art should actually be made by the artist and not necessarily a machine will remain. Also, is the sole idea of a piece of work enough? Individuality might get lost in the machine-making process, uniformity might take over. But then again, this can also be a very interesting approach to a body of work.

Arthur Hash NecklaceArthur Hash, Necklace

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 9.39.28 AMNervous System, Kinematics Jewelry in 3D printed nylon.

In fact, this approach is one point that I am quite interested in at the moment. I have a few ideas turning around the symbiosis of hand-made and 3D printed structures. I think that combining two different forms of making, in their process and the choice of material, will add a very interesting contrast to my future pieces. Another thing that I will add is a new topic that the work will turn around. In the spirit of contrast, that has always been a major motivator in my work, I have recently looked into the relationship of nature and humans again. This is an issue that has always been in the back of my mind. (Have a look at my ‘Booming Blooming‘ and ‘Globalores‘ series.) In my opinion, the modern human primarily takes from nature and does not give much back. There are major man-made natural catastrophes happening all around the globe, gene-manipulation in plants and animals becomes bigger and bigger etc. … and all in the name of consumerism without people thinking about the consequences. What will happen if humans ‘win’ and nature is gone at some point? Will we have to fabricate nature too? Will nature be a reminiscent of the past with all those new technologies ‘improving’ the natural ways of being?

Tech BeeThis image was recently sent to me by my sister-in-law. Will nature and technology work as one or will technology take over nature?

I will see where this path will lead me. It might take a while before I can show some actual finished pieces. Since I have never 3D printed anything before, I am not familiar with any 3D modeling programs. I am good in Illustrator but learning 3D will be a new task that might take a while. If anyone knows of any good, easy-to-learn and free 3D programs, please let me know! I appreciate all the help I can get.

But for now, thank you Janne Kyttanen for following me on Twitter this morning!

I apologize for the length of this post… I hope you made it this far! Until next time…

Thank you for reading!

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Reading 1: Amy Tavern & Inspiration in Books

First, I hope you all had a great start in the New Year and that the ‘Year of the Horse’ will take you on a memorable ride in 2014!

I apologise for not having updated this blog in a while. For the last few weeks, I tried to concentrate more on ProonK, especially with all the Christmas business coming up and the artistic side of my making fell off the wagon a little.

Yesterday though was a great reminder of why I love to make Art Jewellery: I went to a lecture of Amy Tavern at the PrattMWP Institute yesterday afternoon. The lecture was very interesting. Amy talked about her upbringing in New York State, her college years and studies, her unusual way to recognising jewellery was her passion, over to more studies, living in Portland Oregon, starting off making mainly production work until she realised that the artistic aspect was missing for her over to her work from the beginnings to now, her artist residency in Iceland and travels to Europe and finally her current life back at home with the family. I always find that listening to other people talk about their work has a very uplifting effect on me. I admire many makers for what they are doing and what they have done in their work. Seeing the paths other people took to get where they are is very inspirational. Meeting and talking to fellow artists is the best support system one can think of. It was great meeting Amy yesterday and chatting about bits and bobs. It really is crucial to talk about work to keep moving forward.

amy tavern Blow Clusters, Amy Tavern

After my meeting with Amy, I felt very inspired and I decided to use the evening to revisit the basics of making to get a fresh perspective on things: Increasing knowledge and finding new inspiration. I felt very energised last night, so I ordered eight new books online (two were mentioned in Amy’s lecture) and I went through my bookshelf to pull out all the books that I either started to read or always wanted to read.

I also unwrapped my camera. I have a very special relationship with it: It is a Rolleicord double-lens camera from 1957 and I got it from Ebay when I was 18. It is called James. The reason I got this old-timer was because I am not a huge fan of digital photography. For some reason it just does not feel right pushing a button and the camera does all the work for you. I like the old fashioned handling of it and the feeling of actually having ‘made’ something. So, James is ready to go and I hope that I can take him out for a walk over the weekend.

james James, the 1957 Rolleicord camera.

Here is also a list of the books I found in my shelf that I intend to read in the next few weeks/months, in case you are interested in good Art & Design books. I might write reviews on a few of them to let you know why I believe they are a great read.

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Jewellery Design and Development‘ by Norman Cherry (Yes, my work is featured in the book but this is not the only reason why you should read it! 😉 As I said, it is always inspiring to hear or read how other makers create their work and this book is as close as you can get to a jeweller’s bench and mind without actually talking to them.)

Curating Subjects‘, Paul O’Neill (Knowing about curating is always great when being a maker. An idea for a great show can be an awesome inspiration for a new body of work.)

Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House‘, Bill Viola(This is Bill Viola’s sketchbook and writings from 1973 to 1994. I LOVE his work. One of the greatest books I was ever recommended to read. It has been on and off my nightstand for the last seven years.)

Sculpting in Time‘, Andrey Tarkovsky (Just like Viola’s book, Tarkovsky’s writing have been recommended to me by my former MA tutor Jivan Astfalck. Great insights in the creative process, life and time.)

Instant Light‘, Tarkovsky Polaroids (I found this book when I still lived in Shanghai. I fell in love with the way light was presented and highlighted in these rather simple, every-day shots. Light is such an important element in making art!)

What is Contemporary Art?‘, e-flux journal (This one will be a tough one to read but a question that I am interested in finding discussed.)

The Art of the Novel‘, Milan Kundera
(Interviews with Kundera about writing and creating art and quite much more.)

The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook‘, Martin Raymond (Great book about how to foresee and I guess ‘make’ trends. Definitely interesting to know but I think it needs to be digested with caution in order to keep on making art with an unbiased mind.)

Abecedarium‘, Peter Bauhuis (Personal dictionary about Bauhuis’ work. A great farewell gift from a friend in Shanghai.)

How to be a Graphic Designer without losing your Soul‘, Adrian Shaughnessy (Professional insights are always appreciated, especially when they are meant to maintain personal integrity.)

Thank you for reading. I always appreciate your input and comments.

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Dragonfly Foxglove Tree

It has been a while again since my last post and quite a few things have happened since then in the studio. Some great things and some not so desirable ones but all in all it’s moving forward.

Last week, I finished my first ProonK commission for a great customer from Utica, NY. She wanted to commission a ‘jewellery-tree’ but with a spin. Since she loves the Adirondacks, we decided to work with a flower that can be found in the woods of the area and we came up with the foxglove. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of those bulky, weird looking ‘jewellery trees’ that one can find all over the place. I wanted to make a piece that is a small sculpture in the first place but that can have a function, if desired. So, regarding functionality, we decided to add a dragonfly to the design which wings can act as holding devices for earrings.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 4.28.25 PM

The stem and the leaves of the foxglove are made from only two stainless steel parts that were connected using cold connections. After the polishing process, the two pieces were positioned and its elements bent into place.

The foxglove plant holds 29 flower heads that were hand-crocheted from silver wire and enameled in three different shades of purple and pink.

The body of the dragonfly holds a white cubic zirconia.

The whole piece is mounted on a solid block of ash-wood that I brought from the woods of my hometown in Germany.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 4.28.34 PM

 

Here are some Work-In-Process-Pics:

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 5.35.38 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 5.35.04 PMFoxglove flower heads in detail, made from crocheted silver wire and dark purple enamel.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 10.53.27 AMThe foxglove stem without the flower heads.

I hope you like the piece as much as I do! It was a great success with my Utica customer. She loved it!

Please write me a line with your thoughts! I really appreciate your comments!

Thank you for reading.

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Schmuck #3: Fallmamal – Umsturz erwuenscht. Nine Jewelers at the Bowling Alley.

Another exhibition I visited during Schmuck 2013 in Munich was the show ‘Fallmamal – Umsturz erwuenscht. Nine Jewelers at the Bowling Alley’.

The show was curated by Anja Eichler and Gabi Veit and showed pieces that turned around the idea of subversion and falling over. The nine artist taking part were: Sungho Cho, Anja Eichler, Beate Eismann, Julia Heineccius, Young-Hee Hong, Wolfgang Loeffler, Barbara Schrobenhauser, Gabi Veit & Manuel Vilhena.

As the name suggests, the exhibition was set-up in the bowling alley of the restaurant Theresa in Munich. It was the first time I had seen this kind of set-up in such a fun-place. When walking down the bowling aisle, it made me wonder how on earth I had not seen a bowling alley as a place for this kind of exhibition before! It’s the perfect venue to show jewellery. The white walls are perfect to show the jewels and it even comes with its own little green catwalk!

Unfortunately, I arrived very late at the show. Since the restaurant wanted to rent out the bowling alley for guests after 5pm, I had to rush down the ‘catwalk’ to take a little glimpse at the works.

Anja Eichler was there and she showed me her new pieces and explained the concept of the show.

Previously, Anja’s work was marked by the use of industrial rubber gloves. Now, living in Shanghai, she moved on to quail eggs as her main medium. Seeing the egg shells made me want to go back to Shanghai myself and pay a visit to one of my favourite restaurants that sell the best tea-quail-eggs in town! But even with a hungry tummy, it was very interesting to see how Anja concentrated on the patterns and colours of the eggshells and how she found ways to underline those qualities. I am always amazed when I stumble over materials in jewellery that are usually disregarded and rarely looked at twice but that are then transformed into something that shows their natural beauty with a force that feels like a slap in my face!

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.30.37 AMAnja Eichler‘s quail egg jewellery.

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.30.47 AM

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.30.59 AM

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.31.07 AM

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.31.14 AM
I think this necklace was made by Gabi Veit from a previous bowling pin that was gnawed at by a wood worm.

Thank you for reading.

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