I have cited lace as an inspiration for some time now and I can't help but be drawn to it here in Belgium where there is a tradition of lace making. Beautiful lace is everywhere here! I'm also looking at a lot of Flemish paintings in which ruffs and lace collars are prevalent. Now I'm working on a series of ruff studies in different materials including paper, plastic, and metal. There will be Belgian lace, too. I just haven't gotten any yet.
Here are some in-progress pictures of what I've been working on in the studio...and another of the new torch I just got. It's a "Little Torch," the same kind I use at home in the U.S. The system is slightly different here in Belgium and it seems only propane is available. (I use acetylene.) I went to de Blauwe Hond, a hardware store, and worked with someone there to set it up correctly. I got some of the best customer service ever and left feeling good about using the new system. I am excited to solder this week! Up until now I have been using a creme brulee torch, but only for small things. It just isn't powerful enough or hot enough to use. I have also been drawing and planning and running around the city in search of materials.
Today's Guest Star is Marta Miguel Martínez-Soria. I first saw Marta's work on Flickr and was reacquainted with it my first week in Antwerp. Marta sent me an email with jewelry-related suggestions and then I saw her very briefly in Brussels when I went to the student show at Rhok Academie. I went home that night and revisited her work and remembered how much I liked it. She clearly loves exploring different kinds of materials and processes to create work that expresses her emotions, defines her relationships, and describes the intangible. In addition to her jewelry, Marta also draws and takes beautiful photographs - you can see these on her blog, "A Place Where Live."
Shortly after I arrived in Antwerp I spent part of a Saturday with Karen Vanmol. She took me to a shop her friend, Karolien Severins, owns called "Kornelia." The shop hosts some great handmade jewelry by local jewelers like Karolien and Karen and a rentable studio space for metalsmithing. It has pottery and letterpress cards, too. My favorite piece was this wonderful plastic deer pin in four parts by Hermein Cassiers, pictured below.
Rabbit Ring by Karolien
interior with Karen and Karolien in the background
deer pins by Hermien Cassiers
The shop is located at Klapdorp 57, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium and you can also find it on Facebook.
Recently I took a walk to a little gallery/studio/workshop space near Beyond Fashion called "Twee." Twee which means "two" in Dutch is owned by jewelers Lotte De Mey and Nathalie Perneel. I really wanted to see the space and meet Lotte and Nathalie and needing to use a rolling mill was a great excuse to get myself there...Lotte was kind enough to agree to let me come over and after I flattened some wire, we had a coffee and a nice visit. Lotte and Nathalie are both studio artists and teach a variety of jewelry making classes. They also host guest instructors and exhibitions in the gallery part of the space alongside their own work. Currently the work of Nevin Arig is on view.
work by Lotte (left) and Nathalie (right)
view from the studio into classroom space
and, in front of that, the gallery
Nathalie's and Lotte's benches
detail of Lotte's bench
detail of Nathalie's bench
Twee is located at Graaf van Egmontstraat 33, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium and you can also find it on Facebook.
Today's Guest Star is Tine De Ruysser, a Belgian jeweler who currently has a solo exhibition on view at Beyond Fashion. The work is made of real money from around the word, meticulously folded into chains, bracelets, and brooches. As Tine says in her artist statement, the work is "just origami" but also explains that it's really much more than that. Jewelry can be a valuable object based on monetary value. It can also have perceived value and often has sentimental value. Tine presents jewelry with it's monetary value exposed and the viewer can't help but think differently about jewelry. The collection, "Banknote Jewelry," also inspired Tine's "World Money Project" which further questions money and value and asks for help from a greater audience. One other really interesting thing about Tine: she has a PhD from the Royal College of Art in London. Her research focused on a combination metal and textiles folding material she invented. You can read about it here.
The other group of work I have started in my sweet studio atBeyond Fashionis based on walks I have taken around my neighborhood, in Antwerp, and in Brussels. I rely on maps more than I ever have since arriving in Belgium and I'm getting really good at reading them, with help from the handy compass I wear around my neck everyday. (Thanks Galen!) I am also relying on observations to help me remember where I've been so I can get myself back instead of lost. These points are often street names or landmarks, but can also be anything from graffiti to something unusual that gives me pause. I make special note of these things in my mind; I deliberately commit them to memory. Recently I researched the meaning of the bow and remembered that it is often used to remember things, i.e. tying a bow around one's finger to remember something important. Realizing this was a big moment for me since my work has become about memory and I already use the bow. I have studied my maps and written down the details of three different walks and the specific points that I chose to remember. The pieces about these walks will be necklaces of bows and chains with each bow marking an important place.
So what's going on in my studio at Beyond Fashion? I'm working on two groups of pieces with thoughts of a third in the back of my mind. The first group focuses on observations which I've been collecting visually and then documenting with photographs whenever I can. (Occasionally, I observe something from the window of the bus and there just isn't time to snap a picture. These I try to commit to memory or sketch in my notebook immediately. See last two images.) The pictures and notes I take represent not only the observation but also a moment/memory from my life as I live in this new place. Here are a few images of some of the pieces so far paired with their observation: