Years ago, as a student at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, I developed an appreciation for lapidary – cutting and polishing stones. After working with stones in the art metals department, I decided to take a few jewelry classes so that I could mount the stones in silver.
In the art metals class we were taught how to solder metals together, a process known as fabrication. We also learned how to cast metal using the University’s centrifugal casting machine. I remember how exciting it was the first time I cast a ring. The roar of the oxyacetylene torch used to heat the silver and the spinning of the casting machine were a real thrill.
I enjoyed learning the techniques of metal fabrication and casting and continue to admire artists who combine technical skills and their imagination to create works of art in metal. This combination of skill and creativity is evident throughout the artwork in Transformation 8: Contemporary Works in Small Metals, on view at the Woodson Art Museum through January 19, 2014.
A fine example of metal fabrication is a geometric bracelet by David Choi. Its complex series of planes are made from flat sheets of sterling silver and soldered together to create a hollow bracelet with two faceted, aquamarine stones set at one end. On his website, David describes his artwork; “My work is a world of geometry in which new codes of beauty are being investigated.”
|David Choi, Untitled, 2010
Vickie Sedman’s necklace, Transfigure, offers a fine example of traditional casting in a rather non-traditional necklace. She combines cast sterling silver forms with magnets and an unexpected use of rubber to create an elegant modern necklace.
|Vickie Sedman, Transfigure, 2011
One of the more unusual pieces in the exhibition is a brooch by Robert Ebendorf, King of the Road. It combines a crushed Coca-Cola can as the support for a miniature skull with clear, faceted stones in the eye sockets and eighteen faceted red ruby or garnet stones mounted in traditional four-pronged settings. Is the artist warning us about the dangers of the road? Is this a modern day memento mori? In any case, it’s intriguing.
|Robert Ebendorf, King of the Road, 2011
I invite you to check out the dozens of contemporary designs in small metals. While you are here, be sure to see the amazing glass by Seattle artist David Huchthausen and five other exhibitions drawn from the Museum’s collection. Who knows what new memories and inspiration these artworks will provide.
|Lin Stanionis, in illo tempore, 2012