Monday, February 20, 2012

Innovating the Chain, Part 2

I just got back late last night from Columbia, NC where I taught the class "Innovating the Chain" at Pocosin Arts Cabin Fever Reliever. I had seven wonderful, hard-working students and we had one excellent time together. I started the class with introductions in which everyone talked about there metalsmithing experience. Next I gave a PowerPoint presentation on chains. It included many examples of thoughtfully designed and often unexpected contemporary chains. As we progressed through the images I talked about the elements and techniques that set these pieces apart from more standard versions--alternative connections, layering, mixed materials, unusual shaped links, and so on. Then I demonstrated how to make jump rings, to construct and fabricate a basic chain, and to twist wire. I asked the class to make some samples and start making a 16" chain incorporating at least three different kind of links while thinking about the points I made during my lecture.

During our introductions nearly every student mentioned a desire to discover their own unique style or voice. This gave me pause and I decided to add a few impromptu process exercises to my syllabus. So on Day 2 I asked my students to write down 50 things that inspire them in 30 minutes or less. Once they had 50 things I told them they could break the list down into basic categories of like things. This list can show one exactly where his or her interests lie and can be used as a tool for idea generation and new work. Later in the day I asked them to take some time to look through the books I brought, find a chain they like, and then make a list of reasons why they like it and to also explain the why behind these reasons. Demonstrations for the day included scoring and folding sheet metal and wire, wire and sheet manipulations, and riveting and other alternative connections. I assigned a final project to make an innovative chain incorporating line quality, visual weight, and variety in sheet metal and/or wire links. I encouraged using different kinds of metal, textures, and details to make a chain that is unique and personal to each person.

More tomorrow...
Lots of pictures on Flickr. 

Thanks for reading.


Michelle C. Moode said...

Nice! Love list-making exercises. (Nice photo of you demo-ing too.)

Amy Tavern said...

I love list making...LOVE. Thanks for the compliment on the photo, too. My assistant took it and I really like it. It's a good "action" shot.