Friedmann Buehler

I don’t think of Friedemann Buehler as just another wood turner like the sellers you might’ve seen at your local famers market. Don’t get me wrong, I love what those makers do with wood but this guy takes the skill to another level.

Carefully selecting sections from felled oak or ash trees, preferably from the forests of Holenlohe near Stuttgart in Germany, Buehler first removes his chosen blanks (the raw log sections) using a chainsaw and axe. Later in his studio these blanks are soaked in water and then shaped while wet on a lathe (and here’s me thinking all wood turning involved seasoned dry wood). The process is time consuming (some pieces can take years!) but the amazing organic forms he achieves are enhanced as the wood dries and sometimes cracks. And that beautiful stubbly grain is achieved through various brushing and sandblasting techniques before each piece is dyed. These ain’t your grampa’s wood turned bowls.

P.S. check out his work on Instagram here.

 

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Frieda Dörfer – Guilloché

Frieda Dörfer studied gold smithing, watchmaking and jewellery design for 10 years before branching out on her own in 2014. I came across one of her unique pieces the other day and assumed she’d hand-engraved its surface and, being totally inept at using a graver in my own work, I was impressed with her accuracy. It turns out she’d engraved those precise lines using a 17th century contraption known as a guilloché machine.

So what exactly is a guilloché (pronounced gee-oh-shay) machine? Even if you don’t know what it is you’ve probably seen what it can do…

 

Yes, it engraves patterns of lines onto metal or in some cases currency paper, faberge eggs, fountain pens and antique cigarette cases. Also known as a rose engine, geometric lathe or engine turning machine it was invented when someone modified a wood lathe, replacing the standard blades that cut away wood material with 2 polished burs that removed a thin line of material from a metal surface. It became a popular look on metal long before the invention of plastic everything and it took great skill to execute, something Dörfer has learned with practice and patience. She operates the guilloché using both hands, one to turn the hand crank and the other to apply even, steady pressure onto the metal surface. To create evenly spaced lines that are equal in depth and without shadow she has to know when and how much pressure to apply, no easy task. If you’d like to see more of her captivating and unique pieces check out her website here.

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India Flint – Eucalyptus Ecoprinting

I bought a pair jeans recently that I can safely say we’re dyed using industrial strength chemicals, some of which are considered poisonous, hormone disruptive and carcinogenic. So I want to travel down a lesser known road of makers today into the world of ecoprinting (an ecologically sustainable contact print that transfers leaf dyes to cloth, clay, wood, stone or paper ;  now widely adopted by makers in almost every country”. Welcome to the “whirled” as she calls it, of India Flint.

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Destiny seems to have led this woman to begin printing leaves and other organic materials onto textiles. As a child she watched and learned from both her mother and maternal grandmother about the wonders of stitching, knitting and embroidery. She recalls her grandmother soaking pieces of clothing in various combinations of tea leaves, onion skins and calendulas (marigolds) to enrich their faded colours, maybe as much for practicality as artistic motive. She remembers her own chance discovery of felting when she happened to rub collected clumps of wool from her family’s grazing sheep on the barbed wire that fenced their property. Much later, living on her own farm in South Australia she might’ve had a deja vu moment when she looked into the nest of one of her broody hens and noticed a leaf image had been transferred onto one of the eggs there…

“By the grace of the broody hen, whose eggs had been laid in a rain-dampened nest of sun-toasted eucalyptus windfalls, and bore evidence of leaf prints after three days warmed by her body in that damp environment;  I decided to bundle eucalyptus leaves in silk cloth, and discovered pure magic…washfast leaf prints of incredible detail, no mordant required (in case you’re wondering as I was, a mordant is a substance added to a dye that fixes the dye to the fabric).7SyCyCLlTG620ToG8MwDvQ

Now a mother and grandmother, India describes herself as a botanical alchemist, dreamer, writer + author of the eucalyptus ecoprint, dyeing for a living in the Great Southland :: and on the nomad trail. She coined the word hapazome which she gave to “the process of beating fresh leaf matter into cloth, after four days of doing exactly that, on the floor of the Green Room at the Yamaguchi Centre for Performing Arts in 2006, creating a 6 x 6 metre floorcloth that was to “resemble a forest floor” for the production ‘Wanderlust’ by Leigh Warren + Dancers in collaboration with the late and marvellous dancer/choreographer UnoMan. And she adds – Hilariously, this “kitchen-Japanese” is now regularly cited by academics as in “the ancient Japanese technique of Hapazome. Which it is not.”

Flint shares her knowledge about ecoprinting by researching and lecturing at the South Australian School of Art. She offers workshops and writes books on textile dyeing and when she’s not doing all that she finds time to play tenor saxophone and of course run her farm which happens to be the source for most of the plants and materials she uses for printing. Now, feast your eyes on the luscious hues, textures and designs of her stunning work…

P.S. I highly recommend following her on instagram  @prophet_of_bloom. Her images and words are magic.TheShibusaWay

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An example of India's work

 

 

 

 

 

Fujikasa Satoko- Capturing the Wind

If art is meant to stir emotion then the work of Fujikasa Satoko has done it’s job. Powerful, gestural and billowing, her sculptures seem caught in the wind, defying the properties of the clay they’re made of.

Satoko obtained her BFA and MFA from Tokyo University of the Arts (2010), and is said to have burst onto the international stage, no small accomplishment for an artist who’s pieces take months to make.

She uses clay from the town of Shigaraki, southeast of Kyoto, the site of one of 6 centuries old cave kilns still in use in Japan today. Now, all I know about ceramics comes from high school which would fit on a pin head but there’s a whole universe of history and knowledge about clay, firing, glazing and pottery in general so all I’ll say about Shigaraki clay is that it’s said to be coarse yet pliable. Satoko builds her pieces over months by rolling the clay into thin strings which she then sculpts into the subtle flowing surfaces she’s known for. And those surfaces are thinnnnnn – anywhere from 2cm to 3mm. I can imagine she’s had to perfect the drying conditions of her pieces over many years of trial and error.

Her inspiration? Our beautiful natural world…

“It is through my intimate dialogue with my medium that I am able to express nature’s fluid energy. Drawing from both the beauty and power of this world and the emotional response that they evoke, I hope to convey nature’s life force in the mind of the viewer.”

You’ll see that I haven’t put captions under these images. That’s because this maker doesn’t have a website. She doesn’t need one 😉

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Alex White – Furniture Maker

I’d love to have a friend who also happened to be a furniture maker; someone I could share a pint with as I casually pulled out some quick sketches of a table or a chair or some shelving from my bag, pieces I’d been dreaming of but couldn’t make myself. If Alex White  wasn’t so busy winning awards for innovative furniture pieces, doing private commissions and making pubic art he could be that friend. I guess that pint and my dreams will have to wait.

White opened his own studio in 2013, 3 years after studying 3-D design at Falmouth University in Cornwall, but not before being mentored for 2 years by furniture artist  Fred Baier and later Paul Cocksedge. Now, let me be honest here; neither of these names meant anything to me until today but if you’re into art furniture or cutting edge design respectively pleeeeeaaaase check out these 2 makers while you’re here. I’ll be featuring Paul Cocksedge in a future post.

Tradition and technique with innovation are important to White. He says “I love the old ways, but I don’t rely on them. It’s important to keep pushing the boundaries”. He sets materials like perspex against wood that’s built in a traditional Japanese method (without the use of screws or glue), giving it a contemporary aesthetic. And who knew you could crimp boring old steel tube as he does in his “Kinky” series. He’s best known for his Monroe chair though, which, as you might have guessed was inspired by the dress of a certain hollywood actress. Check out his website for sure.

 

 

 

 

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Monroe Chair

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Topnotch Desk

Helfried Kodré

Helfried Kodré is considered a pioneer of Austrian conceptual jewellery. Hmm. Soooo… what exactly is conceptual jewellery, Austrian or otherwise? According to wikipedia the term conceptual art (which I assume can be applied to jewellery) refers to art where ‘the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art’.

Yeah, you can disappear down an academic rabbit hole contemplating this stuff and you can get all mixed up between words like conceptual and contemporary…but I prefer to let the pictures do the talking. Soooo, the work of Helfried Kodré who studied art history while training as a goldsmith in 1960s Vienna, married the legendary jewellery artist Elisabeth Defner, took a break for 18 years and then returned to jewellery making in the 1990s is precise, geometric and beautiful. And let’s not forget c o n c e p t u a l.

Sculpture- Untitled, 2008. Oxidized brass 22 x 20 x 20 cm
Sculpture – Untitled, 2008. Oxidized brass. 22 x 20 x 20cm
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Brooch: Untitled, 2018. Oxidized silver, gold
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Brooch: Fan, 2016. Oxidized silver, gold 10.4 x 5.2 cm
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Ring: Untitled, 2011 Silver, lapis lazuli
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Sculpture: Untitled, 2009. Powder coated brass 15 x 15 x 15 cm
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Ring: Untitled, 2014. Silver, gold, white gold, copper, amber

Claudio Pino

If I were to summarize the work of Canadian maker Claudio Pino into a few words intricate would be my first choice. Complex and refined steampunk would also come to mind.

Claudio grew up watching his father carve miniature ships from chunks of wood, a transformation that took months in front of his 7 year old eyes. Maybe it was that patient step-by-step whittling down of the rough wood to detailed form that influenced his approach to jewellery making. He obtained his Professional Jewellers’ Diploma from l’École des métiers du Sud-Ouest de Montréal in 1995. In 2011, with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, he pursued a master’s degree in the study of platinum at Holt Academy Jewellery in London and received intensive individual training from Master Jurgen J. Maerz, former director of Technical Education for Platinum Guild International, USA. He also trained in stone faceting at the Ashton Gemstones Studio in California. Whew!

My first thought when I came across one of his pieces was – how comfortable would that be to wear 🤔. Luckily…

 ‘During the creative process, I never forget that someone will be wearing the ring. Therefore, rings first need to be very comfortable and belong to the hand. My rings come alive only when they find their owners’.

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Vena Amoris. 14k gold, 925 silver, amethyst, pearl, fire opal
Trilogy 2013 platinum, 14k gold, prasiolite, amethysts
Trilogy (2013). platinum, 14k gold, prasiolite, amethysts
platinum fleur de neige 2013 18k gold 950 platinum, amethyst
Platinum Fleur de Neige, 2013. 18k gold, 950 platinum, amethyst
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Golden Elegance. 18k gold, pink tourmalines, pearls, carnelian
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Magnificence Stellaire. 14k gold, 924 silver, opal, chrome diopsides, emerald, moonstones, pearls

Emanuela Duca – The Ruins of Rome

Yet another maker whose work I’ve admired for a long time, Emanuela Duca is the queen of texture and blackened silver as far as I’m concerned. Born in Rome and currently based there and in New York’s Hudson Valley, her pieces are beautifully minimal and ohhhh so tactile; ‘evocative of volcanic ash and the ancient ruins of her native Rome‘. Check out her lovely minimal website here.

ED49R Roccia ring, 18k yellow gold, blackened sterling silver, white diamond
ED49R Roccia Ring. 18k yellow gold, blackened sterling silver, white diamond
ED96B Burst Cuff Blackened sterling silver. 23k Keum boo, 18k yellow gold, rose cut diamond
ED96B Burst Cuff. Blackened sterling silver, 23k keum boo, 18k yellow gold, rose cut diamond
ED96R Floating in the Dark ring. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED96R Floating in the Dark Ring. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED104B Hudson VAlley bracelet. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED104B Hudson Valley Bracelet. Blackened sterling silver, 18k yellow gold, white diamonds
ED22N Sand Necklace. sterling silver
ED22N Sand Necklace, sterling silver

 

My Work – Sandcasting

A note before I get started here – Thank you for following my blog. From today I’m moving it from twice weekly postings to a single post on Saturdays; not because I’m running low on makers but because I’m the first person to admit I get annoyed when my inbox fills with blogs I don’t have time to read. Do I hear monthly anybody?

And now, for this week’s post…we return to the fascinating world of sand casting. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve been attempting to learn this process, first with a delft 2 part aluminum cylinder flask that I had to modify by drilling a hole into each half to create a wider pouring channel…

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$144 (CAD) for this and a 4.4 lb. bag of delft sand – horrors!

And then with this larger iron flask which already has a wide mouth for easier pours…

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$55 (CAD) – and it works 🙂

With this new flask I’m finding my pours are more successful – in other words the molten silver fills whatever form I make completely. And, I’m having fun making my own forms out of whatever I find around the house, such as squished up tin foil…

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tin foil form with resulting silver cast (bud removed) and the characteristic burnt sand after pouring

So now I have one more trick up my sleeve when it comes to casting which is what I wanted in the first place. The only issue I have now is getting my hands on enough silver to melt down, which means some of my earliest lost wax cast rings are finding themselves in the crucible 🙂

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progress – sand cast link on a hand forged chain

Amber Cowan

There was a time when I used to scour thrift stores for cool stuff. It was something I did to pass the time between elementary school drop offs and pickups. And I don’t know if I’m being nostalgic here but I think my finds in those days were pretty amazing; I still have an Indonesian hand-carved, 3 panel teak screen (in storage in the basement) and several cream coloured English earthenware bowls that I love (I have a thing about bowls). I used to find gorgeous picture frames and cool ornaments that I still have on display all these years later.

Twenty five years on, if I go into a thrift store all I see is junk. Maker Amber Cowen though sees potential.

Cowen has been sculpting glass for 15 years. She has a BFA in 3D design and an MFA in glass/ceramics. She uses techniques like ‘flame working’ (sculpting glass by twirling thin rods of coloured glass over a gas-oxygen burner), blowing and hot-sculpting (hot glass shaped with blades, knives, shears and paddles). But the cool thing (pardon the pun) about her work is that she sources her material (usually American pressed glass) from thrift stores and flea markets and sometimes post production factory runs.
So all those glass ornaments and jugs and dishes that I’d call useless are given new life in these outlandish yet beautiful sculptures. Who knew?

Amber Cowan, Blue Feelings (goblet), flameworked:hot-sculpted American pressed glass
Blue Feelings (Goblet), flameworked, hot sculpted American pressed glass
Colander, copper colander, glass 2011
Colander, copper, colander, glass. 2011
Creamer and sugar, swans in sky (detail) 2016
Creamer and Sugar, Swans in Sky (detail). 2016
Peach blow away 2012
Peach Blow Away. 2012
reconstructions in green flameworked and hot sculpted american pressed glass 2013
Reconstructions in Green, flameworked, hot sculpted American pressed glass. 2013
Spike (detail) 2011
Spike (detail). 2011
Toledo workshop revisted, 2012
Toledo Workshop Revisited. 2012