#5 Work in Progress: Here is to Onions

I guess it is not a secret to say that I am really into crocheting and enameling silver wire at the moment. I find those two techniques very nicely combine and stand for the work that I have been making for the last few years. There is a reconnection to my MA work, which I really see as the collection of work that had me take my first steps into the contemporary jewellery world, but with experience and impressions that are six years older.

I have been living in Utica, NY now for a good year and I think I can say that things have settled in. My studio is running, I could establish some sort of a routine. ProonK is hopefully going to turn another corner soon and I do get the occasional commissioned work, which I quite like since it is a nice little break in my studio life. Now, I am not primarily a world traveler anymore but my settling and building era has begun.

So far, I had been concentrating on my travels, when it came to finding inspiration for new work. Now, that I barely leave the studio, the angle of my point of view has shifted from the outside to the inside. Again, another nice connection to my MA work. I feel more like a studio hermit now than a world nomad.

Looking back on what I was allowed to experience so far, and I think this is transferable to a lot of people, I find that life comes in different stages, different eras. Each era shapes us and constantly reforms who we are.

I have mentioned in an older Blogpost already (#4 Work in Progress: About Onions & Foxgloves) that I find that the human being is very much comparable to the being of an onion. The more we age and experience, the more layers we grow, the more beautiful we become. Just like a human, an onion shares many characteristics. They can be a delicious spice for a great soup or they can be rotten to the core, once one cuts them open. They are a great helper in keeping one healthy but ever so often they like to make one cry. The story of the onion is hidden in its layers, just like the story of a human is hidden in their eras.

So, here is to human onions. Or onion humans? Here is to onions.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 4.59.18 PMThis is the first piece I made in the ‘Onion’ series. It is a brooch that is called ‘Sadonion’. The piece is made from crocheted silver wire with enamel, agate, cubic zirconia and a hand-pierced surgical stainless steel back. I decided to move away from using laser-cutting in this series of pieces, since the hand-piercing process gives the work a more personal, human touch.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 4.59.10 PMThis is the back of ‘Sadonion’. In this piece, the outside layer of the enamel-onion is ‘sewn’ onto the back-structure with stainless steel wire to secure the front. The other onion layers are not attached, so they can move around when worn.

glamonion frontThis is the second piece I made, called ‘Glamonion’. The piece can be worn as a brooch or a necklace. The necklace-chain can be hooked into the loops on the back of the piece. ‘Glamonion’ is made from crocheted silver wire with enamel, lemon quartz, cubic zirconia and hand-pierced surgical stainless steel. Apart from the outside onion layer, the other layers are not attached and can move around when the piece is worn.

glamion backBack of ‘Glamonion’

glamonion back with chain Back of ‘Glamonion’ with chain.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 5.13.39 PMFuture onions.

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.

Advertisements

#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!

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 6.00.51 PM

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.

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

CAFA Beijing ‘SightSEEing’ Two Weeks Teaching Project

For the last two weeks, I have been to CAFA in Beijing (Chinese Academy of Fine Arts) for teaching different grades of students majoring in jewellery design.

The first day started off with a general introduction and explanation of the project brief. The first group of students wanting to participate in the project were BA and MA students in their fourth and final years. The project they had to work on was called ‘Beijing SightSEEing’. The idea for the topic came up after a talk with the CAFA Jewellery Course Director Teng Fei. She had invited me last year already to come and teach a ten-day project with her students, which turned around the idea of using one specific Chinese poem as starting point for the designs. Within ten days, they had to make one piece of jewellery, created from materials of their choice and based on their individual concepts. The outcomes then were pretty diverse and Teng Fei was now intrigued to work with a topic turning around a Chinese historical background as main theme for the project again.

So, this time, I decided not to go with a poem but with all the major different sight-seeing spots Beijing has to offer. For all of you who haven’t been to Beijing yet, it really is a MUST to go and see the Great Wall! This thing is super impressive and hard to wrap your head around, even when you’re standing right on top of it!

The students could choose from the following sites: Lama Temple, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall and the Ming Tombs.  They were then asked to go to one site and have a very close look at the surroundings, in order to find something new in a well-known environment. They had to take at least 10 landscape photographs and 10 macro photographs. Based on one chosen picture, they were asked to identify their interests and develop their concepts. Most students chose the Lama Temple and the Forbidden City, since they were closest to school.

I quite like this kind of open exercise, since it makes students go out and get active. From my experience, especially in China, a lot of students don’t want to leave their well-known surroundings of the campus. They are used to only look inside of the same old boxes they usually refer to for inspiration, not really leading them anywhere new. By making them leave the studio, they are forced to explore and work with something unknown, which in most cases is super inspiring and exciting for them and for me!

After the general introduction, the BA students decided to keep going with their final projects of their CAFA course and came to see me during the week to have individual tutorials about their progresses. Five out of six MA students signed up for my project.

In the afternoon of the same day, I went downstairs to talk to the students of CAFA IFC (International Foundation Course) and I gave a lecture with the topic ‘Material Mania’, focusing on the use of different materials in Contemporary Jewellery and their interpretation. I think the students were a little overwhelmed by the diversity and mass of information but they seemed pretty interested and excited about seeing this kind of jewellery. I then introduced the ‘SightSEEing’ project to them as well and they were asked to finish it within the next ten days. Since they were on a tighter daily schedule than the BA/MA students, I could only see them twice a week in the afternoon. So, in total, we had three afternoons worth of contact and discussions followed by a big presentation on the fourth afternoon.

Given that the IFC students really had to manage their time well and the amount of tutorials I could offer them, they did a really good job. I was positively surprised about the outcomes on presentation day. I think quite a lot of their concepts and ideas are worth being pushed further, since there is still a lot of potential in them. I really hope they can find a way to do so! The 3D Studio Coordinator Adrienne Erickson was very pleased about the outcomes too and said she would think about carrying on the project! This made me leave with a big smile on my face. It makes me happy to know that the students learned something new and that I could contribute to the outcomes of this year’s IFC teaching modules.

Here are some images of the IFC’s students’ work.

Hua Yi Yun. Headpiece inspired by the roof of the Lama Temple.

Deng Li Qi. Neckpiece ispired by the lake at the Summer Palace. The part of the piece worn on the chest shows elements of the long bridge at the Summer Palace. The back of the piece shows the frozen surface of the lake, remembering traces of life in form of carvings in the wax surface.

Shi Nuo. Armpiece based on the idea that faith and belief is not always something that has roots on the inside. She said that some people who like to worship and pray just do so in order to satisfy other peoples’ believes and social expectations, when in reality, they are rotten on the inside. The piece is made from food chips and noodles, materials that are used for worshiping but that can also show the process of decay.

Gao Yi. Face Mask inspired by the Lama Temple, especially screens and room dividers.

Liu Tian Qi. Headpiece inspired by the Lama Temple’s roof, made from chopsticks, tooth-picks, fabric, pearls and a little duck figurine that is meant to protect the wearer.

Liu Min Yang. Body Piece inspired by the clothes of a monk at the Lama Temple, made from incense sticks.

He Jing. Neckpiece based on the burning of incense sticks at the Lama Temple. The colourful batches are made from incense powder that is ‘drawn’ on PVC in the shape of fire. The gray parts are made from the ashes of the powder.

Hang Feng Ling. Series of brooches based on the trees of the Summer Palace. She said that the trees are the only witnesses around the palace that could see what happened during the course of history. Therefore, she started to work with wood and wood bark to make pieces that resembled the shape of an eye.

At the end of the presentations, one of the girls, Shi Nuo, came to see me to show me pictures of her previous works, since she is very much interested in studying jewellery design in the future. Frankly, I was astonished by the pictures she presented! It does not happen very often, especially in China, that I meet students who are as devoted in what they are doing as she is. The girl in the picture is herself! It is great to see that there are students who put their mind, body and soul in their creations.

On Friday morning, the BA and MA students came together to present their outcomes of the last two weeks working with me. Unfortunately, from the five MA students who had signed up for my project, only three could show their work to present.

Here are the pieces of two of the MA students:

Brooch inspired by the ruins of the Summer Palace that burned in a big fire.

Gu Li Mi La. Brooch based on the walls of the Forbidden City.

After the presentations, I was invited to a very nice lunch with my new CAFA colleagues and great food at the CAFA cafeteria, before I had to head to the airport and back to my daily life in Shanghai.

Although the teaching period was again very tight and there was a lot of pressure on the students and myself to work on this project, I enjoyed the process a lot and I very much hope that the students had the chance to learn and grow from it too. It certainly was another great experience for me!

CAFA design department main entrance.

The CAFA campus itself is a great source of inspiration. For some reason, I have a thing for fences….

….and chimneys….

…random whale/plane sculpture on the campus…

…really lovely but very quirky trees…

…CAFA main entrance….

…CAFA Art Musuem….

…and finally, I couldn’t resist to include this picture. Another really great example of the use of Chenglish in China. Loving it! 🙂

Please feel free to follow this blog, follow me on Twitter @LisaJuenProonK & Facebook & check out my webistes: www.proonk.com, www.lisa-juen.com