Judy Nygren

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a vegetarian or not but I love still life paintings of fruit and or vegetables. And I love the paintings of Judy Nygren who, among other subjects, paints the most beautiful cabbages I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t have a website though so all I can tell you is that she has a studio in Fort Langley, BC., that she went to the University of Victoria, BC and that over the years she took numerous painting classes with the Federation of Canadian Artists in Vancouver. She says she loves to ‘capture the light as it falls on a subject to create a focal point and high contrast.  I cannot resist a subject that is “back lit”  where the intense light shines through a leaf or flower’. She does it so well!

You can find Judy in her studio in the Flatiron Building on Billy Brown Road, Fort Langley.

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Anna Vlahos

Call it personal bias but I’ve always loved jewellery with a rough hand-hewn look rather than machine-made exactness. There’s something intrinsically human about meandering lines, imperfect forms and surface flaws that I relate to. Where machine jewellery is about uniformity and industrial scale production I hear the maker’s story in a handmade piece. That brings me to the work of Anna Vlahos whose distinctive aesthetic tells the story of place; Australia where she grew up and Greece where she now lives.

MIRACULASS 2015
MIRACULASS, 2015

Before moving to Greece, Vlahos obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) at the School of Visual Arts, Cowan University in Perth, Australia majoring in printmaking (1999-2001) with Honours there (2002). In 2004 she obtained a Certificate IV in Jewellery Design and Production from Central TAFE in Fremantle (2004).

Regarding her work and it’s unique style she says…

Ancient artisans broke down the natural world around them into patterns and motifs. The jewellery and art objects they created come out of the ground as though they grow down there.  Living in Athens, these become my replacement for the natural world I left behind in Australia. I take these simple pattern elements, borrowing from vase and amphora and rhyton .and replicate them infinitely. Using these pattern puzzle pieces, I can build a nature of my own, drawing on the flora of my memories and my home, but built using the visual language of those artisans’. (via klimt02.net)

I might’ve been daydreaming during social studies class and missed the lecture on amphoras and rhytons so I had to look them up… antiquity people made vessels, usually out of clay, to transport things like olive oil and wine.These were often painted and that strange pointy base meant they could be stood upright in soft soil or sand or held in wooden racks on ships for transporting. A rhyton was also a container. It was a horn shaped cup that held wine and it often had animal forms and motifs on it. It would’ve been used everyday and in special ceremonies

 

 

Growing up in Australia Vlahos would’ve been familiar with trees like this…

 

 

Now, tell me if you see those influences in this maker’s beautiful work…

 

 

Ophir, 2012. Sterling silver, copper, paint 6x2cm
Ophir, 2012. Sterling silver, copper, paint
Amphor black, 2016. Sterling silver 10 x 7 x 5.5 cm
Vessel: Amphor Black, 2016. Sterling silver, 10x7x5.5cm
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From exhibition : Mutation
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Basic rings, dark
Brooch: Miracualss, 2015. Sterling silver, 24kt gold 12x5x3.5cm
Brooch: Miraculass, 2015. Sterling silver, 24kt gold 12x5x3.5cm

You can find out more about this Anna Vlahos here or on Instagram here.

Evan Eisman – Brooklyn Blast Studio

If you’ve ever toiled at removing decades-old paint or varnish from a piece of furniture or annoying bubbles and scratches from a ring shank (me! me!) you understand how sandpaper abrades a surface. Imagine then what a high velocity stream of sand directed onto a surface can do. And imagine that stream directed by an artist.

Evan Eisman opened Brooklyn Blast Studio in 1998 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard 7 years after obtaining a degree in painting from Pratt Institute. He and his team use ‘blast technology’ to create everything from amazing subtle textures to precise engravings on glass, stone, wood, metal and even wool felt and paper. Prittay cool if you ask me.

Check out their website here or find them on instagram here.

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Ailsa Morrant – A Handshake

I sometimes wonder about the usefulness or relevance of the bits and pieces of jewellery that I make. I enjoy the making and sometimes enjoy the end result but I don’t delve much deeper than my own ego. Clearly I’ve never contemplated what Ailsa Morrant has contemplated. Graduating this year with 1st class BA (Honours) in silversmithing and jewellery design from the Glasgow School of Art, I think I understand what drives her to create, to express what words can’t. And a simple handshake has led her in her explorations. As she explains…

“I like catching everyday moments: the fleeting, instinctive, subconscious ones that are connections with ourselves and with others.

They are the gap between us being and becoming.

The bit that is so difficult to grasp because we often rush past it.

Over before we are even aware it was happening.

Vital moments.

Both good and bad moments.
The ones that make us think, muse and connect”.

In ‘Handshake (Dexiosis): organs of society’ Morrant captures the space between 2 people in a handshake and freezes that fleeting connection between them (btw dexiosis means to give (someone) the (right) hand). Like fingerprints then, each cast becomes a unique record of the hands that made it. She says these pieces have the appearance of small internal organs about them and that they invite the wearer to touch their surfaces. I can understand why; there’s something uniquely human she’s making here, something we all share and on a gut level understand. What do you think?

You can find out more about this maker here and on instagram here.

Casting process of the handshake
Casting process of the handshake

 

 

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From Handshake (dexiosis): organs of society
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From Handshake (dexiosis): organs of society

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Ring- Maritial Material, 2018 Brass porcelain, silver, glass, gold leaf
Ring: Marital Material, 2018. Brass, porcelain, silver, glass, gold leaf

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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silkshawl

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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Kinky 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