The Ceramics of Tomoko Sakumoto

I’ve never seen ceramics like these before. Japanese-born Tomoko Sakumoto (BFA, Okayama University, 2000. MFA, Okayama Prefectural University, 2002) creates boldly coloured contemporary striped forms that seem to invite you to touch them, or is it just me? And I couldn’t put my finger on it until just now…the stripes, although so very precise, remind me of either a circus tent or a men’s necktie…so I’m sensing both a playfulness and seriousness from them at the same time. And I LOVE their bulbous forms!

Sakumoto’s artist statement doesn’t translate exactly as she might’ve meant but it gives you some idea of her process and intent with these very attractive pieces.

 ‘I create works for the beauty that a stripe pattern intersects the solid of ceramics. The form and the pattern are imaging in my mind passing through the processes or conversations of materials.

I make a lot of parts which I cast clay that add color to a plaster mold, and the form of the art object and a color of the stripe have been laid by piling up them. The plaster mold is the method that I arrived at to draw a straight line necessary to express the simple beauty.

The parallel lines which spread without determining it while snuggling up nearest, and crossing, the stripe is the meeting. I hope it becomes more attractive in what is expressed by the feel of a material of ceramics’.

As for a web presence, Sakumoto is represented by a number of galleries. Her work can also be viewed on the dreaded Pinterest. As well she’s referenced on Instagram by others but doesn’t have an account under her name as far as I can tell.

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Form 102 from 21. 2010
Form 102 From 21, 2010
Form 103 from 12
Form 103 From 12
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Form 113 From 20
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Form 182 From 20
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Rabbit, 2008

Philip Sajet – Let’s Make Something Beautiful

I once had a fellow design student ask me how to draw. We were gathered at a campus offsite from our own and were supposed to be sketching things around us. I described to her how I approached drawing; using the pencil as an extension of my eye, to move it over the paper as my eye moved over the object. It made perfect sense to me but I don’t think it helped her. Her drawing skills never improved over the 4 years. Don’t worry though, she graduated at the top of the class in the end. My point here is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. We can’t all be brain surgeons or jewellery makers or even interior designers ;-).

I’d say Dutch-born Philip Sajet’s (BA Jewellery, Edelsmeden, 1981) was probably born with the ability to combine and contrast colour, form and perceived value in his beautiful jewellery. And as a collector of rusty old washers on roadsides I have to say he’s an inspiration!

You can find him on Instagram here.

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Crescendo, 1998. Rust, Gold
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Collier Rouge 10, 2010. Glass, Gold
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Le Rock, 2009. Nare, Water buffalo Horn, Amethyst, Smoky Quartz Gold
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 Her Royal Roughness, 2017,  Red Glass, River Stones (partly sawed and polished), Flint Stone, Silver, Gold
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1990

 

 

 

 

 

From Mistake to Favourite Ring

Have you ever made something with your art that you later wished you hadn’t? I have. This is a story of spending time with your mistakes, persevering and reworking an idea if you can.

I made this ring last year but when I got it back from the caster I wasn’t happy with it. The casting itself was imperfect (bubbles and cavities that weren’t part of the wax model) and the texture boring (an experiment using a piece of cotton gauze dabbed into the molten wax). I thought I could jazz it up by oxidizing it but in the end it was relegated to a shelf in my workroom to gather dust.

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Booorrr…ring 

Months later I came across it and without much thought tossed it into my crucible for an upcoming sand casting attempt. It was a mistake I could simply melt away. I don’t know why but several days later when I got around to the sand casting project I noticed it in amongst all the other bits and pieces in the crucible and took it out. I might’ve stared at it for a few seconds before deciding to put the sand casting aside because I HAD to hit that boring texture with some heat to see what would happen. 

So much fun! The heat from the propane torch softened out the original texture and as parts of the surface of the ring began to flow I had a brilliant idea…why not solder on a tiny ball of 9k gold. Oooh la la! So I positioned the band in my 3rd hand tool and placed the gold ball carefully on a chip of solder and slowly added some heat again.

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Heat + Time + Gold = Fun?

Now, if you’ve ever heated silver with a torch you’ll understand something of metallurgy, that there’s a precise moment when a millisecond more heat is a millisecond too much. You can be thrilled one second and totally defeated the next. And I was defeated when I saw that .35 gms of gold disappear into the molten flow of solder and silver just as I pulled the torch away. Damn it!! I was left with a silver ring that had only the faintest hint of a pale gold tinge along its surface. Such a drag! I kept the ring like that for a couple of days before deciding to add some more heat, secretly hoping that the gold would somehow find it’s way back to the surface. As if.

The more I heated the band though the more interesting it became. It was morphing into a moonscape with parts of the surface that held the original casting flaws deepening and pitting as others bubbled and moved. I kind of lost interest in the gold at that point because I was so excited about this new texture. I wore this new version for several more days before deciding it needed oxidizing…

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When in doubt…add more heat
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Left ring  – oxidized and posing with other rings

I would’ve left it at that but the more I looked at it the more I wanted to try setting a stone into it, somewhere inside the pitted area that would become a focal point. I chose the spot for the stone and drilled out a seat for a 2mm garnet I had kicking around in my jewel box. I’d planned to do a bead setting but soon realized another fact regarding metallurgy – continual heating of .925% silver brings the .075% alloys to the surface causing the remaining silver to become brittle. Damn it again. Out with the beading tool and plan B was to solder on 4 silver beads around the seat that would act as prongs. Out came the 3rd hand tool again with the solder chips placed ever so carefully underneath the 4 silver beads.

Now, if you’re like me, soldering is both exciting and terrifying because again, heat + time needs to be precise – especially when you’re trying to solder on a thinner area of the band. Everything was going great, the solder was beginning to set down where it should and the silver beads were all in place. I was queen of jewellery making in that moment. That was until one of the beads suddenly jumped off the ring and 2 others decided to coalesce. DAMMNN IT! After some fiddling I was able to set the stone securely and added some texture to the surface. Voila!

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The final version

In the end I decided this was where I wanted to leave the ring and I have to say from start to finish I learned a lot about re-working a piece, transforming it from a mistake for melting in a crucible to my favourite ring of all time. Amen,

Jenny Anderson

Anderson studied fashion design prior to obtaining a bachelors degree in metalsmithing/silversmithing and is currently attending technical college to obtain a certificate in engineering. Wow! I think it’s so cool that she sets precious metals and stones against blackened steel, paint and gorgeous found objects, always with a keen eye on form, volume and craft.
Now, this is a tiny sampling of her work below, so please do yourself a favour and check out her Instagram feed here which is more current than her website, because, you know, who has time to keep a website up to date when you can just post to Instagram. I’m with you on that point Jenny 🙂

 

U Shape ring. Steel
Interactive box ring. Sterling silver
Chain earrings. Sterling silver
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Black steel bangles

 

 

Olivier Van Herpt – 3D Printing Ceramics

Have you ever wandered the aisles of a big box store searching for a particular something, a simple utilitarian household object that shouldn’t be hard to find (soap dispensers come to my mind for some reason)? And have you ever been amazed at the lack of variety on those shelves and secretly wished you could design and produce your own household object? Well then, meet Olivier Van Herpt (Design Academy Eindhoven, 2015), the Dutch industrial designer whose work examines the typical top down relationship between manufacturer and consumer using 3D printing.

3D printing has been used to produce widgets and gadgets for all sorts of applications for a number of years, everything from plastic auto parts to surgically implanted replacement parts in the human body. The evolution of this ‘additive manufacturing’ technology can be traced to the early 1980’s and even further (the 1900’s!) and involves a material, guided by a computer added onto itself to create a component. Van Herpt wanted to test the limits of a typical desktop 3D printer to produce his own functional, large scale piece of ceramics and began to experiment.olivier-vanherpt-3d-printing-ceramics-1-800x533

Initially he wasn’t content with the results. The printer could only produce small objects and these weren’t heat resistant or food safe. So he adapted the machine by designing and making his own clay extruder and experimented with different types of clay mixed with water. Adding water would’ve made sense to me because the process itself is about the extrusion of a material from a nozzle onto a horizontal plane. I’d have assumed that a diluted material would flow better than a dense one. But it didn’t work (I’d have given up right there). Continuing to work on the problem his eureka moment occurred 2 years later when he redesigned the extruder and used hard clay that dripped from the nozzle instead of being expelled in the conventional cord-like fashion and this allowed him to make larger pieces with more surface definition as well as random human-like imperfections. So amazing!

If that’s not enough amazingness for you, then consider that his adaptations to 3D printer technology are open source on the ol’ internet which means we can all print ourselves some gorgeous ceramics and I may one day make my own soap dispenser.

Now feast your eyes on these and tell me whether or not Van Herpt has redesigned mass production for the better. You can also find more about him and his ongoing collaborative explorations into the manufacturing process here. Or check out his Instagram page here.

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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.

96850langleyFullCircleTwocabbage patch 4J. Nygren flower

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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Paper

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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