#4 Work in Progress: About Onions & Foxgloves

Since my return from Munich a couple of weeks ago, I have been pretty busy in the studio.

Right now, I am still trying to find a balance in between pushing my artistic practice, working on ProonK and working on commissions. Yes, I have been lucky and a very great lady commissioned me to make her four jewellery stands for her earrings. I have started to work on the first stand and I am pretty excited about it. It will not be a regular jewellery tree but it will have an arty twist to it.

First to my artistic practice: As you know, in my last three pieces, I started to experiment with enameling silver wire and I got quite intrigued by it. It is the perfect way to combine my love to knit and crochet with enameling. The result are those very intriguing pieces that take me right back home to my grandma’s place. Tradition meets modern, past meets present. So, I experimented a little with shape and colour and made a few pieces that I am very happy about.

At the moment, my mindset turns around the idea of how much does traveling shape your being in terms of finding/having a home. … and what is home or Heimat?

I tried to sort out my mind by writing a short artist statement the other day. It always helps to put the ‘idea-soup’ on paper.

‘If you engage in travel, you will arrive’ -­‐ Ibn Arabi (1165-­‐1240)

 

One of my passions is traveling. I like to be and live in new places that, at times, are very different from my own cultural experiences and upbringing. For the last eight years, I have lived in constantly changing ‘homes’, moving as much as nine times.

 

My most recent move in June last year was of a different kind. This time, it is a permanent move. With the new location, not only my physical coordinates have changed but also my mindset. For the first time in over eight years, I find myself in a place I can call a ‘real home’.

 

But what is ‘home’? Can I call the short-­‐term ‘homes’ of my travels in the UK and China ‘real homes’ too or should I refer to those as ‘homes in transit’? What makes a ‘real home’ and how does it differ from the ‘home of my upbringing’, my German ‘Heimat’?

 

With this thought in mind, I am also intrigued to find out where my past experiences mix; the ones that shaped me through my German upbringing and childhood, the ones I got introduced to on my numerous travels and the ones that I make now, living in my new ‘real home’ in the USA, away from my German ‘Heimat’.

 

How much does travel shape one’s being?

 

In my new work, I would like to combine my German roots, things that make me feel at home and remind me of Germany, things that bring me back to my childhood, the cheesy and the corny… with impressions I gathered on my travels, things I learned on the way about other people and cultures but also about myself… with now being rooted in a place and yet another new culture for the first time after having left Germany.

Quite a while ago, I watched the movie Shrek and I remember him saying that he was an onion. He said he had layers. I feel the same way. I am an onion too. I am made from international layers that shine in different colours.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.32.30 PMThis was the first piece I enameled. The coloured layers are not attached, so once mounted, they can move in their little areas without falling out.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.33.09 PMHere, I tried to combine the enameled piece with other materials. I am very much interested in working with wood and striped agate at the moment in combination with the stainless steel and the cubic zirconia.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.33.28 PMAnother composition.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.32.03 PMThis is the second piece. It is meant to be part of a neckpiece at some point. I have a few ideas but nothing is set in stone yet. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.31.25 PMThe layers of this piece can move too, resulting in a really great sound! I also love the transparency of the piece, seeing different colours shine through from now and then.

Simultaneously, I have been working on the ProonK front. On April 1st, I opened my ProonK Etsy Shop… and no, this is not an April fools’ joke! Please check it out, let me know what you think and occasionally get something small for you loved ones, please!

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There will also be a line of new pieces to come soon. I am working with high-speed on the new designs, featuring enameled lace! I can’t wait to have everything wrapped up soon! I am super excited!

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 12.33.54 PMThis is a prototype of a lace earring. There will be two half spheres making up a ball that will hang from the part with the stone. ( Disregard the colour combination. It was just a test.)

Last but not least, here are some pics of the jewellery stand I was commissioned to make. The shape is based on a foxglove. The single flower heads are made from enameled wire as well. The stem will be made from stainless steel. On the top of the flower will sit a dragonfly that can hold the earrings in its wings.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 5.35.04 PMA few of the foxglove flower heads in dark and light purple.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 5.35.38 PMFoxglove flower head in dark purple.

I hope you like my latest studio progress! Let me know what you think, please!

Thank you for reading.

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Schmuck #5: (ig)noble

Last but not least, I would like to talk about the Schmuck-satellite-exhibition ‘(ig)noble’, showing work of Swedish artists Karin Roy Andersson, Lisa Björke, Pernilla Persson, Hanna Liljenberg and Sanna Svedestedt at the Schwedische Kirche.

I will say it in advance, this was a difficult and challenging exhibition for me to see. Difficult and challenging in a good way, since it raised a lot of questions in my head that I am still thinking about.

But to the show… The artists said that the idea of the exhibition came to life after reminiscing about last year’s Schmuck-madness. The girls found that it seems like the contemporary jewellery market is getting more and more saturated. More people seem to be adjusted to the idea of artists using non-precious materials in jewellery, the price-range seems to be around 300€ plus, the quality of the work seems to stay around a similar level but there does not seem to be real buying force.

Therefore, the girls came up with the idea to make four different kinds of pieces, ranging from 35€ for several small-edition pieces over to six small-edition pieces with slight variations for 200€, two one-of a kind pieces for 600€ and one exclusive piece for 2000€. This was meant to help explore the visitors’ interests and buying bahaviours.

The exhibition was set-up in form of four wide tables that showed the 35€ work of all artists in the front row, the 200€ work in the next row, the 600€ pieces came right after, followed by the 2000€ work in the last row. The prices of the pieces were determined by the time the artists needed to make them. This was mainly visible in the pieces in form of the size. Although each artist used the same materials in all pieces, the 35€ work resembled small tokens that people could take with them to remember the show, whereas the 2000€ pieces were big elaborate statement pieces.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 4.47.55 PMKarin Roy Andersson

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.47.12 PMLisa Björke

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.49.54 PMPernilla Persson

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.52.39 PMHanna Liljenberg

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 6.56.16 PMSanna Svedestedt

The reason why I wanted to see the show was because of the duality that came with it. It seemed like the Schmuck world was parted in half. Prior to seeing the exhibition, I talked to a few people about it and some were absolutely intrigued to go and see it because of its bold statement that put the selling-point of jewelley in the spotlight. Others seemed appalled because of just this. It seems like we are still living in a world where artists are not supposed to talk about money. Pretty sad to me, since we all know money unfortunately does not grow on trees, especially not when you’re an artist.

As you can hear, I applaud the boldness of the exhibition and I am still very intrigued to know about the results that the girls gained from it.

During the time I visited the exhibition and quite some time after I had left, I had several thoughts and questions in mind. So far, I have been a frequent Schmuck visitor. Almost every year, since I started to study jewellery design, I went to Munich to see the event. Now, almost 10 years and several satellite-exhibitions later, it seems like my perception of the event has changed. I guess the show has always been the same way but this year, it occurred to me that, I assume, there might have been 60% students, 25% makers, 10% galleries and 5% potential buyers. Now, come to think of money, we all know that students don’t have it and most artists don’t have it either. Galleries mainly come to find, represent and sell new work, which leaves only a very small number of people that is interested in actually buying the work.

Back to the show… when being there, a student who joined us to see the exhibition decided to buy one of the 35€ pieces. When asked why he went for that one, he said that he would have loved to buy a bigger one but that he could not afford it. Hence, he bought the smallest and cheapest version of it, so that it would remind him of the bigger piece he actually really liked. I found this very interesting. Does this mean, in reality, in order to make a living, one will have to make just this? Make cheaper jewellery that reminds one of something one can’t afford? But then who is one making the big expensive pieces for? For the hope a potential buyer will come along and buy it one day anyway or to keep the dream alive for people who can’t afford them? Don’t get me wrong, there are millions of other reasons as to why one should make the big pieces but trying to see it from a mainly selling point of view, I am not sure if I want to hear the answer.

But back to the roots of the problem. If there is only a small number of people that is capable of buying the more expensive jewellery, how does one reach them? Is a show like Schmuck the right platform to try and approach this kind of people or is it really meant to be more of a showing event that presents the newest trends? But if this is the case, where does one show and sell the pieces? Of course there are contemporary jewellery galleries, which can be very successful in selling the work. But other than galleries, is there nothing else artists can actively do? How can artists reach the buying force? Also, how can artists attract the millions of people that still don’t know about contemporary jewellery? As we all know, the contemporary jewellery world is still very small…

This is a really difficult matter and honestly, I don’t know the answers to it.

I would really like to hear what the Swedish artists found out. I guess the 35€ pieces might have been the best sellers, which is great of course but a little sad at the same time.

As to the show, I think it was a very bold and brave attempt to raise awareness as to how to make a living in this field. It surely is not easy. I hope there will be more exhibitions of this kind to come in the future. Artists get together!

What do you think about this matter? What can be done? I would love to hear your opinions.

Thank you for reading.

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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.

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Schmuck #1: Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch

Last week, from March 5th to March 10th, I was in Munich for the ‘Schmuck‘ show curated by the Handwerkskammer Muenchen. Schmuck is the empress of exhibitions, when it comes to contemporary jewellery exhibitions in Europe and each year, there are thousands of jewellery enthusiasts storming the city to see the show.

Because of the huge rush of people, there are a lot of little independent satellite exhibitions on show throughout the city that are organized by all sorts of jewellery artist, students and galleries. In my student days, it was still possible to go and see all of those little shows. However, during the last few years, the list of exhibitions has become so long that it is physically impossible to go and see them all in six days. This time, when I went through the flyer that comes with each Schmuck madness, I had to sit down and study it hard to make a decision on where to go. I will write about a few selected exhibitions in the following posts.

Now, I would like to start with showing you the set-up and look of the show ‘Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch’ that also featured my three most recent pieces. You already know ‘Cicada’. It’s time you get to see ‘Starlight’ and ‘Green Roots’.

Here are pictures of the show:

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Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 3.46.32 PMSina Emrich during the set-up of the show. It was Katharina Moch‘s and Elena Ruebel‘s idea to paint the window and present the pieces through holes that were scratched free from the paint. This type of set-up made it possible for all of us to walk through the city and have a look at other exhibitions ourselves without having to be present in the gallery. 

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Elena Ruebel painting the window.

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Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 3.52.46 PM     Elena Ruebel‘s newest work. Her porcelain pieces (she calls them her sausages!) and coloured rope.

 

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 3.49.40 PMKatharina Moch‘s organic plastic jewellery.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 3.49.28 PMTabea Reulecke‘s wood creations.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 3.49.13 PM              Sina Emrich‘s movable growth-ring jewellery.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 3.47.25 PM ‘Cicada’, the first of my newest tree pieces made from enamel, silver, stainless steel cubic zirconia and a porcelain cicada I found in Shanghai.

The exhibition was on show from March 5th to March 10th at Galerie im Raum in Munich.

…and here are the other two of my newest pieces, ‘Starlight’ and ‘Green Roots’.

guck ins schmuckloch, schmuck im guckloch

starlight 72‘Starlight’, brooch/neckpiece, silver, enamel, stainless steel, cubic zirconia, lamp piece from a very dusty artist studio in shanghai, glass.

green roots with chain 72

green roots 72 ‘Green Roots’, brooch/neckpiece, silver, enamel, stainless steel, cubic zirconia, tiles from a demolition site in shanghai, glass.

I hope you like the show and my new work. Let me know what you think!

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‘Die Zikade’ (‘Cicada’)

Today, I finished the first of three pieces I will show at ‘Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch‘ in Munich in March. Please come by and see the work and the artists, if you are in town. We will all be very happy to welcome you!

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The piece is called ‘Die Zikade’ (‘Cicada’). ‘Die Zikade’ can be worn as a brooch or it can be attached to a chain to be worn as a neckpiece. I like to give more options to the wearer when standing in front of the mirror and deciding how to put it on.

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Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.20.53 PM‘Die Zikade’, Brooch/Neckpiece, 2013; Stainless Steel, Silver, Enamel, Cubic Zirconia, Porcelain.

After having read Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Storytheller’ the other day, I had many more ideas and I started to experiment with a few more shapes and looks. It is still very early to talk about the future pieces in detail but I have a vision in mind. One that incorporates a lot of enamel, patina and all kinds of surface structures. …of course in contrast with stainless steel.

Here are the beginnings.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.05.05 PMI am still intrigued with ‘roots’. Right now, I am playing with shapes and connections. It is not as visible yet but there is a lot more in my head.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 6.05.28 PMInspiration: I found this piece in the scrap metal box of the School of Jewellery during my student days. I don’t know who made it or why it got thrown out but I found it very intriguing and I took it with me. It has stayed with me for more than five years now. During that time, it has changed quite a lot. Initially, it only had a little bit of patina on it. Now, the patina is much more defined. I love to see how nature takes possession of the piece.

More to come soon. Let me know your thoughts! Thank you.

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#3 Work in Progress: Relief

The new silver wire has arrived and boy… I can’t tell you how relieved I felt when I took the new enameled constructs out of the kiln yesterday and found that all previous issues had vanished! Just one little mistake, like buying the wrong type of silver wire, can cause quite a big headache. Still, after a few days of waiting, hoping and slowly turning crazy over the idea that I might not be able to finish in time for the show in Munich, I have to admit that (as usual) it was good that things did not turn out as planned. The delay gave me more time to reflect about the pieces: their origins, their shapes, their compositions, their characters. I was and I still am so happy to be back in the studio that my intuitive making took over. My body needed to see results. Now, my mind is slowly kicking in, asking for the sense of it all.

Mainly, I thought about the roots and what they mean to me. Anchors, yes, supplying organs, yes, but there is more:

  • origin
  • home (Heimat, Heim, zuhause)
  • arrive
  • hold
  • ooze out (herausquellen)
  • find one’s way
  • skirt hurdles
  • safety
  • overgrow, take possession

Here are the beginnings of the new pieces…

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Work in progress: I tried to link the single ‘finger’-elements of the roots more, so that they give the impression of being ‘rooted’. I also wanted to show the force of the roots by having them ‘move’ the floor tiles from their ‘original’ flat position.

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The finished enameled look. Although green, I think the fork-like character of the root takes away from the idea of a snake. The roots are not lying loosely on top of the composition anymore. They are open to the back and connected to the wearer.

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I like to give the wearer the option of choosing how to wear a piece. The first picture shows the piece as a brooch, the second one shows it as a neckpiece. The chain-part can be detached.

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Work in progress: Overgrow, take possession. Brooch and neckpiece.

More silver wire is on the way for more experiments to come. Now, it’s time to work on the construction of the pieces, of course made from lasercut stainless steel. I will keep you posted…

Thank you for reading.

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Sweet Sweet Studio

So… after a good seven month without making any ‘serious’ jewellery, due to moving countries and some personal procrastinating issues, I am sitting in my brand-new studio and I am MAKING. Finally!

It really is about high-time, given that 2013 started off on a really good foot. I just realized the other day that my work is going to be on show in five exhibitions until April alone. The rest of the year is yet to come! I very much hope for the chance to have a solo show some time soon and I am going to work hard towards that goal.

Until then, my work can be seen in the following exhibitions:

‘The Beauty Chase’, Espace Le Carré Gallery, Lille, France, until Jan 14.
‘Con Decorados’, Klimt Gallery, Barcelona, Spain, opening in February.
‘Ferrous’, Velvet Da Vinci Gallery, San Francisco, USA, March 1 – April 14.
‘Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch’, Galerie im Raum, Munich, Germany, March 7 – March 10.
‘Stories & Symbols’, Facèré Gallery, Seattle, USA, opening in April.

With ‘Guck ins Schmuckloch, Schmuck im Guckloch’ coming up during ‘Schmuck’-time in Munich, I really have to focus and make new pieces. So, yesterday, I had a big enameling day and I experimented with techniques, objects and compositions.

It was fabulous, after a long time of simply knitting socks, to design and make jewellery again. I came up with three ideas for future pieces and I can’t wait to hold the finished works in my hands soon. Let’s hope for many more to come!

With my move to America, I realized that my origin is really important to me, alongside my traveling experience. ‘Heimat’ (birth place/home) is what shapes us first, traveling cuts our facets. I would like to play with both of those influences, showing the ‘product’ of them until this point in time. So, I think Germany, UK, China and America will play a big factor in my future pieces.

When still in China, I started to collect ‘found objects’. This was something very new to me, as I usually don’t like to collect stuff. I am used to work with an idea in my head and I go and find the materials. For some reason, maybe some melancholic reasons when knowing that I would leave Shanghai, I collected some objects that looked intriguing to me. Now, they are lying on a table in my studio waiting for me to work with them… and I did start with some. Another first.

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 1.44.43 PMFound objects on my studio table

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 1.45.01 PMThe Yellow Studio Room

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 3.49.18 PMThe Blue Studio Room

Another thing that I realized when arriving in America was that my creative process is going in a ‘looped line’. I am not thinking from A to B to C. In the process of shaping new influences and ideas, I like to reflect on earlier work and sometimes, old influences peek through in new ways. At the moment, I find that I am interested in some things again that intrigued me during my MA days in 2007. It will not be the same as the work from that time. The new work will represent my experiences from then to now through the choice of known but also new materials and techniques. My mind is going in circles and yet, it arrives at new places.

Accordingly, the new body of work will be called ‘Circle Spirit’.

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 1.44.30 PMThe beginnings of the first piece. The cicada came from a small street shop in Shanghai. I made the ‘roots’ from silver wire and enamel. Roots: home, growth, basis, knowledge, past & present. I think the roots will have a strong presence in the pieces of the ‘Circle Spirit’ series.

More to come 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 my FB ProonK page.

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.

‘Dating Medal’ for ‘Con Decorados’

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to make a piece for an exhibition in Valencia, Spain called ‘Con-Decorados’. The exhibition will be part of a row of shows accompanying the second opening of the ‘Schmuck‘ show from Munich in Valencia. It will be held at the ‘Museo Nacional de Ceramica y de las Artes Suntuarias Gonzalez Marti‘, as part of the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Jewellery Department at the ‘Escola d’Art i Superior de Disseny de València’ EASD. To mark this anniversary, the school has organised a programme of activities, exhibitions and talks on contemporary jewellery and called the event  ‘MELTING POINT 2012’. ‘Con-Decorados’ will open on the 5th of May at 6pm. To visit the blog accompanying the activities, click here.

The topic of ‘Con-Decorados’ turns around the subject of medals. 23 artists were asked to work with and around the idea of interpreting and creating a medal.

The artists who will participate in this exhibition are:

Peter Bauhuis
Mirei Takeuchi
Sung-Ho Cho
Volker Atrops
Jorge Manilla
Christine Graf
Lisa Juen
Alexander Friedrich
Tabea Reulecke
Rodrigo Acosta
Marie Pendaries
Carlos Pastor
Kepa Karmona
Sarah O´Hana
Kerstin Östberg
Elvira H.Mateu
Edu Tarín
Ramón Puig
Silvia Walz
Grego Garcia
Mauricio Lavayén
Gemma Draper
Mariona Piris
My idea for my medal came from personal experience. I wanted to create a medal that is a witness of our time, a medal that can be worn and used for a purpose of today.
Until I met my partner, I was a single woman in Shanghai for a very long time and I had to learn the hard way that dating can be really hard work that should be awarded a medal! So… here it is, the ‘Dating Medal’.
…and a short explanation:

Modern society does not make it easy to meet one’s ‘better half’. The Internet, Hollywood and the fast pace of a steadily growing throw-away-culture heightens the bars of expectation when it comes to choosing the right partner.

How can one meet this person without having to bend over backwards?

Dating in the mentioned conditions can be really hard work, especially for girls. The ‘Dating Medal’ is to be a helping device for women dating but is also act as a dating award.

The brooch holds two LED screens: one in green and one in red.

The screens are connected to an ON/ON switch, which enables the wearer to decide which of the two screens is going to light up.

In the case of the lady meeting an individual of interest, the green screen can be lit reading:

 ‘Did the sun come out or did you just smile at me?’ 

The sentence can act as an ‘ice-breaker’ leading into a conversation. In the case of the initial chat being a success, the gentleman can take the lady’s contact details written on small paper-strips hanging from the series of brooch-hooks. If he would like to leave his details, he can choose to take one of the plain paper-strips and write down his contact information with the attached pencil. By hanging the written strip back on the hook ‘rewards’ the girl with the possibility of a future date.

In the case of the lady not feeling attracted to an approaching individual, the red screen can be lit reading:

 ‘Save your breath.’

In this case, a lot of drama and heartbreak can be prevented right from the start.

Not just my dating experience was a little rocky but the way of making the brooch was pretty painful too. Just when I was about to finish the brooch, a piece of the bearing broke off. Since the metal part is entirely cut and bent from one piece of stainless steel sheet, I had to remake the entire brooch.

Here are some pictures I took along the way that show the process of making.

Polishing. Even after almost 10 years of making professional jewellery, the contrast of dirty hands and shiny metal still amazes me! It feels great looking like a pig but holding this precious little something in one’s hands!

Before bending.

Wiring.

I hope you like the ‘Dating Medal’ and the journey of its making. If you should be in Valencia around the 5th of May, please feel free to join the exhibition opening. The show will be on until the end of June.

If you can find a chance to go, please take a picture of the piece and send it to me! I would love to see it on display! Enjoy the show!

Wave Structures & LoudLives

The birthday of a very close friend of mine is coming up and for that reason I decided to make her something special.

The current series of work that has been on and off going in my mind for the last year plus, is called ‘LoudLives‘. It all started off with a trigger project that spun around the exhibition outlines of the JAMES show, which was held in Munich at the same time as the Schmuck fair for four years until 2011. For the show ‘The JAMES Days‘, each artist created work based on daily life pictures that were sent to each other.

After I had made the pieces for JAMES, the essence of the concept stuck with me. I was intrigued by using imagery instead of my comfort-zone starting-point: words & headlines. Over the last couple of months, it became more and more clear to me that the real thing that intrigues me in the topic is its closeness to people. So far, most of my work has been based on facts, things that I see in my environment and I make my comments on them/digest them in my work. But now, it seems like I am looking for something that goes a little deeper, underneath the skin. It can be more personal but doesn’t have to be. It can be seen from my point of view but can be seen entirely different. I am intrigued to find which kind of response I will get on a piece, knowing my personal feelings about something/someone and other people being able to recognise their own experiences in it.

Anyway, I decided to get into this direction by making a small piece about my friend. There are several characteristics about her that I would like to show in the piece. She is a very deep character, she thinks a lot, is a little insecure but incredibly strong at the same time. She constantly keeps challenging herself, which is admirable but can sometimes get to a point close to self-destruction. Strength and vulnerability walk together on a very thin line.

Depth, pain, pride and blue are the first words that pop into my head when I think of her.

The main element of the piece will be inspired by the ocean, waves in particular. I started to make some research on waves and stumbled over this really beautiful website by Hawaii based photographer Clark Little. The pictures are amazing! It makes my wish to go and travel to Hawaii even bigger! Shanghai, why can’t you have waves and beaches??? Look at the structures of the waves! Aren’t they beautiful?

A year ago, shortly after the ‘The JAMES Days‘ exhibition, I made the first piece that is going in the direction of the ‘LoudLives’: ‘Flower Lady’

It is based on an old woman who sells flowers on the streets of Shanghai. She has been lurking in the corners of my mind for quite a while now and still is. She really triggered some sort of emotional quest that I am still trying to discover and find answers for.

As mentioned before, I want the ‘LoudLives‘ series to be about people. People who are close to me but also people seen from a distance. How do we interpret people and their behaviour? How and on which level do and can they touch us? How do we touch each other and how can it be expressed? How close do we have to be to each other and which differences does distance in closeness show us? Being in China also means embracing cultural differences, a topic that becomes more and more important with the world rapidly developing into a huge inter-cultural melting pot. It would be very interesting for me to see how people will behave and treat each other in 100, 200 years time, when cultures are even more mixed up.

I think it took me so long to really embrace this topic because I thought it might be a little boring to ‘talk’ about people from only my point of view, since I know that the impressions and experiences of the viewer will always differ from mine and they will never see things the way I do. Also, a lot of artists have worked with that starting point already. But then isn’t there a deep fascination in this concept as well, thinking about the realm of possibilities that one little thought can trigger in different people, although it started off on a very personal emotion?

Picasso kept painting the same women all over again… and the paintings still fulfill me with awe whenever I see them. Working with people might be an old concept but it is still endlessly full of discoveries. Let’s see how far it will take me!