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.

Feel free to follow this blog.
Please have a look at my websites www.lisa-juen.com and www.proonk.com.
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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!

Feel free to follow this blog.
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.

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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Schmuck #4: Flora Eats Fauna

On Schmuck-Friday, I went to see the show ‘Flora Eats Fauna‘, featuring work of contemporary jewellery artists: Dana Hakim, Hannah Joris, Jasmin Matzakow, Jimin Kim, Leonore Jock, Nora Rochel, Stephanie Hensle & Susanne Wolbers.

When I had a look at the mega-long Schmuck-flyer, I was a little reluctant to go and see this exhibition, since it was on show at Schloss Nymphenburg, which is a little bit out of the city. One has to take the tram and walk for quite a bit to get there. Still, since that Friday was nice and sunny, I thought I’d give it a try and enjoy a little walk through the park. I have to say, just seeing the Schloss Nymphenburg by itself was worth the trip.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 9.46.45 AMSchloss Nymphenburg

The exhibition ‘Flora Eats Fauna‘ was on show in the Johannissaal at the Orangerietrakt and was just as impressive as the main building. The room itself was beautiful but so was the way the exhibition was set-up and arranged. When entering, one found oneself in a sea of paper flowers that supported and complimented the jewellery.

Like the title of the show suggested, all pieces had something to do with nature. Was it in form of natural materials, shapes of butterflies and fishes or compositions that made it difficult to tell what was man-made and what was ‘genuine’.

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‘Flora Eats Fauna’

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During my visit, I had the chance to talk to Dana Hakim (It was the first time we met after having exhibited at Preziosa Young together in 2011. It was great meeting her in person!)  and Susanne Wolbers, who both explained the backgrounds of their work. I also overheard Stephanie Hensle talk about her pieces, when she explained them to a gallerist. To me, the most important thing when having a look at contemporary jewellery is to build up and find a personal connection to a piece. When this happens, I find the piece is a success. I think, being able to read and see something in a piece of art is more important than recognising what the artist meant to express. However, if both is showing, the piece is sheer perfection. Therefore, next to having my own impressions, I like to listen to the artists themselves talk about their work.

When having a look at Dana Hakim‘s pieces, I was puzzled about the materials she used in her compositions. Especially the blue material kept me wondering. I assumed it was some sort of pigment but later I found out that the pieces were made of industrial rubber gloves! The entire time I had a look at them, I was mesmerized by the characteristics of the materials. Even though I knew then what the pieces were made from, they still did not look like gloves to me. Dana really found a way to give the used materials a completely new identity, a thing that is not easy to achieve.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 9.45.06 AMDana Hakim’s blue rubber glove jewellery on the bottom left and top right.

Susanne Wolber‘s work was an actual, literal puzzle. The pieces were a composition of a piece of nature (tree bark or leaves), an insect and a man-made imitation of those contents that blended in perfectly. The trick was to determine which one of those three components was the actual man-made one. A task that was more tricky to achieve than it sounded!

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 9.46.13 AMSusanne Wolber’s compositions in the white frames.

Stephanie Hensle‘s work was inspired by old pressing machines that were previously used for making costume jewellery. She used the old pressing techniques to make hundreds of multiples that made up big movable, animal-like pieces. Although some of them were really big and looked very heavy, they almost seemed to snuggle with the body when being worn. I found this formed a very interesting contrast. I had this stiff making mechanism in my mind but then I was proven that they were super agile and moved all over the place!

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 9.45.16 AMStephanie Hensle’s pressed, movable animal pieces.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 9.45.44 AMNora Rochel’s jewellery on the left, Jimin Kim’s jewellery on the right.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 9.45.32 AMNora Rochel’s jewellery in the front, Hannah Joris’ work in the back.

I very much enjoyed this exhibition and I am still happy I took the trip. All three, the set-up, the work and the Schloss were absolutely worth it. I am very much looking forward to seeing more future exhibitions of those girls!

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 9.47.44 AM

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.

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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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Schmuck #2: Plateaus Jewellery Project

As mentioned in my previous post ‘Schmuck #1: Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch’, I visited quite a few exhibitions during Schmuck 2013 and I decided to write about a few that had a lasting impression on me.

One of those that stuck in my mind was the show ‘Plateaus‘ of Idar-Oberstein makers: Barbora Dzurakova, Patricia Domingues, Katharina Dettar & Edu Tarin.

The show was on display in the attic of a five stories living house and I have to admit that I kept cursing my way up the stairs but I was rewarded with a very intriguing and well-balanced show. The four makers met at the Fachhochschule Trier in Idar-Oberstein during their studies (I think a few of them are currently still enrolled in courses) and they decided to show together on the platform of saying that they have the same starting points in being individual artists in Idar-Oberstein but in addition they can build up on each other and find links in their different works and making processes.

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 9.02.57 AM

When seeing the exhibition, the link of the works became obvious: big stones, either in their natural form or in cut shapes were present in most pieces. With Idar-Oberstein and its long history in the gemstone industry, this comes not as a surprise. Still, each artist used the medium in their own individual way but without giving or taking too much from the others. The whole exhibition had a feeling of relaxation and tranquility to it. No piece tried to stand out from the crowd, they were allowed to be next to each other in harmony.

Although the set-up of the show was a little bit more quirky and experimental, it blended in perfectly with the look and feel of the raw attic with all its untreated wood panels and floors. The artists decided to show their work on top of wooden drawing boards that are usually used for life-drawing classes in Idar-Oberstein. It was funny for me to see them, since they took me back to my student days, when I was studying there. But again, the artists arranged them in a way that took them away from their previous use and they transformed them into very funky looking display surfaces that looked like they had always belonged to that very specific attic.

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From all pieces, there were two that especially intrigued me.

One was a necklace made by Katharina Dettar. At first sight, I have to admit that it did not impress me that much. It looked like cut wooden sticks that were connected to each other. But when I figured that it was made from unpolished and cut semi-precious stones, I was intrigued. I had a very close look and I found that one part of those sticks might be made of agate but the other part still leaves me puzzled. Until now, I can’t tell whether it is also made from stone or wood. This play with the look of materials and having the viewer guess about its nature, without being able to touch and hold the piece, is incredibly tempting and quite a bit cheeky!

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 8.32.54 AMKatharina Dettar’s stone (wood?) necklace.

The other piece was a blue enameled, octopus-like, brooch of Edu Tarin. I have to admit that I am quite a fan of enameled jewellery anyway. However, Edu finds a way of connecting the ideas of traditional jewellery techniques with the individual eye and making of an artist. It was obvious to see that he comes from a very technical and strict jewellery making background, in using multiples of common jewellery settings, but it seems like he almost tries to drown this tradition in covering the settings in layers of enamel. Even the shape of the brooch seems to underline the revolting struggle of the settings under the heavy layers of enamel but without success. The hands of the artist win this interesting battle of goldsmithing knowledge and artistic practice. Still, I kept thinking over and over about one little detail… the use of the enamel is done in such a thick and sometimes clumsy looking and uncaring way that the idea of an experienced enameler at work does not come to mind. But then I guess this is exactly what Edu tried to achieve and where the most interesting stories begin…

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 9.02.27 AMEdu Tarin’s blue ‘octopus’ brooch on the left.

Thank you for reading.

Feel free to follow this blog.
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.