Ruth Jensen: I’m enthralled with the transparency of wire. It’s perfect for revealing the extraordinary beauty, transience, sometimes humor of what appears to be ordinary. I make each sculpture one twist at a time, without patterns or molds, using bazillions of pieces of straight wire. I “see” the shape I want, and make the wires come together in that shape, like putting a puzzle together. (I love puzzles.) My pieces are meant to intrigue and delight the viewer, to combat the overabundance of dull ugliness in the world.
We’ve featured Joanne’s work before, and now she’s part of our new series: DIY Interview. If you’d like to be a part of it, just check out the end of this post.
What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
I make light sculptures by taking a piece of reed, and bending and twisting it into an interesting shape. Once I’m happy with the shape, tissues and handmade paper are applied over the reed with wheat paste.
My light sculptures have no front or back, up or down. This is because I want the you to feel relaxed and at ease when you view it, to explore my light sculptures however way you wish.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I made my first light sculpture during a one week art enrichment program in high school. During the week, 15 students and I work closely with an artist. She taught us how to form the sculptures, and the techniques of papermaking with plants.
After high school and college, I worked in advertising agencies such as Young & Rubicam and Grey Worldwide as an Art Director. In July 2009 I lost my job due to the company’s restructuring plan. Instead of looking for another job at another agency, I decided to take this opportunity to re-visit the experience of making abstract paper light sculptures in high school.
Will Wagenaar lives in Port Richey, Florida with his cat, Lyle. He sculpts and when he isn’t sculpting, he’s thinking about sculpting and looking for parts. Will has been a professional artist since 1972 and also has an interior design degree. He once ran a mural painting business and later opened a storefront in Miami Beach where he sold his work – taking found materials and creating usable objects and fine art. His work is at least 80% recycled materials. Check out his shop!
A few of his sculptures can be found at EcoArt LA gallery right now (not sure how long they’ll be there).
How long have you been making sculpture?
Since high school.
What are the materials needed to make them?
Recycled is the most important quality. Other than that: wood, metal, glass, ceramic. Mostly discarded household and garage items. I prefer to work with materials that show their age.
Where do you get your materials?
I have been to 4 flea markets in the last 3 days. Also, thrift stores and yard sales, estate sales. Occasionally, I am able to liberate trash from the streets.
Can you tell us a little of your process?
I let the material speak for itself. Sometimes my usage is obvious. If I am really curious about something, then there is usually a reason. I keep playing with it until an idea strikes. Sometimes it is about the relationship of one or more pieces, the shapes they create together.
How long does it take to complete a sculpture?
Once I have an idea in mind, I work quickly doing all the difficult things first. Then I slow it down a bit for the final effects and finishes.
Have you had a favorite piece?
I have had several favorites. It is such a thrill to sell a piece that is a favorite because those are the most validating sales.
Do you do other kinds of crafts?
I was a mural artist and did architectural finishes for almost 30 years. My work is in many fine residences in several states and corporate locations as well.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
More of this, I love this.
Have any advice for people trying to start their own handcrafting business?
Just do it. There is every good reason to try. Just do every task to the best of your ability. People will find you.
Melissa Lew has been an artist her whole life. Some of her fondest childhood memories are of making jewelry with her mother. These days, in addition to her graphic design day job, she is also a painter, a photographer, a classically trained pianist, and of course, the designer and sculptor of her own jewelry line.
The current Melissa Lew jewelry collection includes four lines, with four themes: Transcendence (cherry blossoms), Prosperity (goldfish), Longevity (Asian dogwoods), and Resilience (transfers of Melissa’s paintings on bamboo). Melissa uses mainly recycled, sustainable, and eco-friendly materials to create her jewelry, including recycled fine silver, stainless steel, and bamboo. All her recycled fine silver jewelry is hand carved, so every single piece is completely unique!
Although Melissa has wide-ranging experience in the visual and performing arts, her interests were focused into jewelry making partially through her exposure to recycled fine silver. The material intrigued her, and she found it was an excellent medium to translate her passion for her Chinese heritage into a personal, wearable form.
“I love how personal jewelry is,” she says. “I love that instead of being hung on a
wall or placed on a pedestal, people wear it and enjoy it.”
Her inspirations come from her Chinese heritage, and from the deep reverence the Chinese have for the natural world. Classical Chinese proverbs, symbolism, and tradition all play a part in the creation of Melissa Lew jewelry.
Melissa taught herself how to make jewelry, which is unsurprising for someone attracted to all types of art and handcrafting. She had always been interested in sculpture, and jewelry-making, the way she does it anyway, is just like sculpture on a very small scale.
In addition to her love for recycled fine silver, Melissa also hopes to experiment with other recycled metals, including copper, bronze, and gold.
Melissa Lew Jewelry has won several awards and has been shown in exhibitions locally and across the country. Most recently, locals may have seen her jewelry adorn the models at DC Fashion Week in February.
Not surprisingly, Melissa’s DC-area customers are drawn to her cherry blossom themed Transcendence line. She supposes that the extremely popular National Cherry Blossom Festival here makes it easy for locals to form a personal connection between the understated flower and their hometown.
You can find Melissa Lew jewelry online and at local arts and craft shows. The next one will be the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market in Arlington, Virginia on June 12. Melissa’s web site is updated regularly with news on her upcoming events and appearances, so check often!
Do you have travels planned this summer? Then take along one of these adorable pieces of luggage from Another Jamie Davis. These upcycled suitcases, bags and purses are plucked from relative obscurity from flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales and renewed by artist Jamie Davis. Each piece is lovingly repaired, often re-lined and then hand embroidered with a tree theme.
I’ve made things all my life, bunk beds for my dolls when i was 8, dresses for my little sister when I was old enough to use the sewing machine. I dabbled in selling my jewelry and hand made purses at holiday bazaars in college but it wasn’t until after graduate school that I found etsy and fell in love with idea of selling my things online.
Jamie’s shop has been open since October of 2008, but she found her focus on upcycled embroidered handbags in April of 2009.
I’m really enamored with the luggage in my etsy shop right right now (could it be that I’m longing for a vacation?). I absolutely love this little yellow tree suitcase because it’s bright and fun. And I love the Black Wood Grain Hip Bag overnight bag because it’s perfectly practical, and big enough to carry everything you could need for a weekend away.
Jamie was born and raised in the Akron Ohio area — made things — went to art school at the University of Akron, studied Metalsmithing and sculpture — made things, moved to Massachusetts to go to graduate school — made things — got an M.F.A. in sculpture — made things. Are you catching a trend here?
You can find out more about the other stuff Jamie makes on her webiste: www.anotherjamiedavis.com