Tag Archives: gold

The Shadow of Gold

Looking uncomfortable new truths straight in the eye seems to be the best option, I figure. Not having shied away from difficult topics in the past on this blog (nor in my life), this is a new one.

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I love to eat. And that I love love love to work with gold. This is what drew me to attend the International Gold Conference in NYC earlier this month, which presented a variety of topics about the metal: its worth, its makers (jewellery-world luminaries such as such as Stephen Webster, Mimi So, and the amazing team from Catbird NY) . Makers, subcontractors and educators from Brooklyn and from London, UK, and much more.

It also presented the darker side of gold: its mining practices. I had come across things I would have rather not have known.  Joanne Lebert form Canada’s IMPACT was particularly impressive to me.

Discussing gold mining and its perils at the Gold Conference in NYC this month                                                               (Robert Lang on the right)

It’s not like these contemplations were entirely new to me; I had heard enough. But I had never heard it with such clear voices, and I had certainly never seen it on film. Prior to this, I made sure my precious metals suppliers adhered to strict environmental standards within Canada/USA, but I did not look deeper. I knew that the majority of the gold I use is recycled. I recycle gold which my clients trade in when I re-create their old pieces into a new one.  And I had, in fact, just a few weeks earlier decided to order my first batch of fair mined gold – at a premium price. Like the local or organic veggies I buy, I knew certification and accountability would have it’s price.  

All this makes me glad that a film is coming to Halifax next week, which shines a light on the issue: “Shadow of Gold” takes a close-up look at this beloved metal, examining stories in China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dubai, USA, Peru, and beyond. David Suzuki calls it “a very important film that should be seen”. Watch the trailer here: Shadow of Gold.

We are lucky that one of its award-winning Canadian filmmakers, Robert Lang, will be present for the screening.  And I am honoured to have been invited, as the only maker, to join the panel which will convene following the screening.  This is a topic which should be very relevant to Nova Scotians, as there is gold exploration right here!

The post-screening discussion will be moderated by journalist and author Joan Baxter, featuring panelists Raymond Plourde (Ecology Action Centre), Stacey Gomez (Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network- BTS), and Hannah Martin (Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia – SUNNS, We’kopekwitk First Nation)

Come and join us in being brave enough to face the truth about this coveted material, which can bring such suffering and destruction, including right here in Canada (as you will be shocked to learn, as was I).

Special Screening + Discussion

Paul O’Regan Hall – Halifax Central Library,
Tuesday, May 7th
Doors open at 5:30pm. The film will begin at 6pm
followed by discussion

I am a Goldsmith

Sometimes people are surprised that I call myself a goldsmith, since I also work with silver. I thought I’d demystify that discussion for you.

There are two main reasons for the decision to use this term. The first is actually rooted in the 18th century. I always thought that with the American war of independence was created not only a division of countries, but also of spelling. That the North, what was to become Canada, remained loyal not only to the British crown, but also the British spelling of English words. Turns out it’s not that simple, and Canadian spelling does not exclusively follow the British. But in any case, there are marked differences, such as ‘color’ south of that border, and ‘colour’ north of it. Or ’jewelry’ and ’jewellery’.

When I initially started my company, still finishing my degree in jewellery design and metalsmithing at Canada’s premier institution for that degree, NSCAD University, I did not yet think very big. I named my sprout of a company ‘jewellery designer, metalsmith’. A few years later, I realized that I was going to perhaps one day sell in the USA, and that this term would prove an obstacle. I did not want to box myself in by using the British/Canadian spelling.  Hence I had to find a different way to describe what I did by way of a new business name.

Fire melted old gold jewellery into this little gold nugget

As you may know, I was born and raised in Germany, and only came to Canada as an adult. In my own cultural heritage, a jeweller is someone who sells jewelled body adornments, not who makes them. It is a retail position. Whereas the person making those items is known as a “Goldschmied” – someone smithing gold. But they, and I, also work in silver. But as it turns out, that term, silversmithing, is applied to the fabrication of vessels – be it of silver, copper, brass etc. You might start with a sheet of metal, and apply hand tools such as mallets and hammers over stakes, in order to displace the metal and shape it into vessels. I am also trained in this craft;  in artschool these courses were referred to as ‘holloware’. Of all the terms, what I am is clearly a goldsmith.

Coloured stone like sapphires and spinel look great on 18k yellow gold

So this is how I arrived at the decision to use the word ‘goldsmith’, even though I also work in silver and copper, and I also set jewels. Particularly in a day and age where anyone can purchase beads and wire, and may call what they create ‘jewellery’, it is perhaps important to make the distinction. I added the word ‘designer’, because I have a university degree in jewellery design, a tough course of study, taught by this country’s highest award-winning professors – I feel I have earned the title.

This 18k custom Twofooter ring was a dream to make

I also like that the term gets to the heart of my passion: I truly loooooooove working gold. There is nothing like it. The weight of the material in your hand – this in itself is beauty to me. When you start working gold: forging it, cutting or filing it, it behaves completely differently from other metals. It even sounds differently. I love its qualities so much. I appreciate its durability, its refusal to be destroyed by time, yet be so malleable. I find it to be a metaphorical inspiration for how to live my life: have heft/meaning, shine with a warm glow, do not let external circumstances destroy you, and yet remain malleable, carrying warmth.

For the ‘Precious’ Series, I wrap luscious 22k gold around rough diamond cubes

Square One

Materials and Process – Passions of a Goldsmith – that was the title of my graduating exhibition at NSCAD University’s Anna Leonowens Gallery in 2004.  So long ago! Good early perception, though: I already knew that my passion for the materials and processes of this amazing trade of gold/silver/copper/metal-smithing is what drives me.

My heart and soul went into my NSCAD U graduating exhibition

My heart and soul went into my NSCAD U graduating exhibition

That exhibition marked the end of a tremendously important time in my life.  It was hard to figure out the logistics to keep going following graduation, two kids in elementary school and suddenly no studio. But my passion kept driving me further. I set up a studio in the Arts Annex of the Seaport Market and kept working towards another solo exhibition two years later, this time at the Mary E. Black Gallery. It was a time of tremendous outpouring. I think I will post some photos from those shows, one of these days.

Tonight though, I happened to stumble across a poem which I wrote somewhere around that time. It’s a little intense – I hope you don’t mind my sharing it here. Even to myself when reading it again after quite some time, it illustrates what’s ‘behind it all’, this passion for a dialogue with the metal which drives me, and which – incidentally – is also what makes me happy. How lucky is that?

Gotta look for some of those still ‘listening’ moments in the next bit, I think.  I am so glad I found this. Brings me right back to square one. Best place to be, hands down.


 

And such is my passion for making

that the search for the right form to
emerge from the material before me

And such is my passion for making

that this search pains me in the
innermost center of my soul – the same place love hurts –

And such is my passion for making

that when I see a form which is perfect for
its moment in time and space
(some call this ‘good design’)
that such a perfect form brings the sun to my face.
I weep with joy over such good fortune.

And such is my passion for making

that I wither when I stop
that I dream it day and night
completely unshakable.

And such is my passion for making

that I drink its textures its sounds its weight its dirt
I drink them like nectar
like frozen Bombay Sapphire
never enough.

Such is my passion for making

that it hurts.

When I realized this
I became terrified.

Now I stand in awe
before the materials which are
pregnant with stories, laden with hidden forms.

I want to draw them out
I wish to help them emerge
I desire to see them.

I concentrate, still,
examining each step carefully
Listening intently.

Dorothée Rosen, 2006

At my bench in 2007. Photo by Paige Littlefair

At my bench in 2007. Photo by Paige Littlefair

 

One-off Valentine’s

What is the history of Valentine’s Day? Probably some commercial endeavour. Or the lack of a mid-winter holiday? Or a combination of both?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. And while many folks may end up making empty, half-forced notions due to this holiday, others might use this time to really reflect on what they have, WHO they have in their lives. Let us celebrate being grateful for and to the ones we have in our lives whom we love, and by whom we are loved. Let us celebrate love!

Express your love by the giving of beautiful objects, or simply prepare a loving meal. Create a handmade surprise of your own, or use the creativity of language and a pen & paper, or your voice, to profess your love to him/her/them. Happy Valentine’s Day!

These are the rings with stones I have in the studio right now

These are the rings with stones I have in the studio right now

1st two rings on the left are Onefooter rings in 18kyg, set with Canadian diamonds, sizes 7 and 7.5 (many of my representing galleries carry these; check locally!)

The rest are almost all sterling silver Onefooter rings with sapphires (or other gemstones) in 18k settings.  Each has a number, so that I can keep track!

2nd column has One-Of-A-Kind

#64 with 0.57ct light purple sapphire, size 7 (top), and
#56 with 0.6ct pale blue sapphire, size 7.5 (bottom), and
#49, a Onefooter ring with Aquamarine, size 7.5

3rd column (top to bottom)
#62 with 0.17ct princess cut ruby, size 7
#65  with 0.39ct light blue sapphire, size 7
#48 with 0.47ct pink sapphire, size 8.5,
#57 with princess cut unheated purple sapphire, size 7.5
#53 with 0.17ct princess cut blue sapphire, size 8
#52 with 5mm princess cut cognac coloured sapphire, size 7

4rd column has two sterling Onefooter rings with dark blue sapphires, sizes 7 and 6.5

The 5th and last column has
three Onefooter rings with Aquamarines, sizes 6.5/7 and 8, $916 each, and one with a gorgeous red tourmaline (size 7.5).
The last ring in that row is a stunning Twofooter ring with a large green princess cut tourmaline, size 8.

I don’t normally work in 14k, but I did once, so I have these couple of rings here (will not make that combo again):

This 14k Onefooter ring is set with a dark blue sapphire. It is a size 8.5 $2,640

This 14k Onefooter ring is set with a dark blue sapphire. It is a size 8.5 $2,640

Again 14k, this ring has a almost colourless sapphire; size 6.5 and $2,640

Again 14k, this ring has a almost colourless sapphire; size 6.5 and $2,640

And, miraculously, I still have this beauty:

18k gold with unheated naturally pale blue-green sapphire, size 9

18k gold with unheated naturally pale blue-green sapphire, size 9. $3,120

 

Love from Coast to Coast, and over the pond!

I just finished two outdoor summer art markets: first in Halifax, then in Vancouver, British Columbia, returning today from the West Coast.  As much as I enjoy making things in my studio, it is always such a delight to bring my work in front of real life people. The jewellery I create is meant to adorn bodies, and it is meant to bring delight to the wearer. And so it is always wonderful to explain the processes of head and hand, which are involved in the making of my pieces.

My lovely Vancouverite assistant 'Bob' shows off how well the 'Meeting' rings stack

My lovely Vancouverite assistant ‘Bob’ shows off how well the ‘Meeting’ rings stack. She loves jewellery!

This year, I again had some wonderful encounters during the summer shows.

In Halifax, I met Pati, who was visiting from the US, and who fell head over heels in love with this one footer ring with Aquamarine. And how delightful to speak to Vivian, whose adult children Luca and Julia are about to part ways for the first time, going to colleges away from each other. Vivian wanted to keep her children connected by way of each one having a Onefooter ring. I love such stories!

In Vancouver, I had another good couple of tales:

This was the view of Vancouver from near where I was staying

This was the view of Vancouver from near where I was staying

There was another head-over-heels for an Aquamarine set in 18k yellow gold, when Kathy put it on her finger. Luckily, I had that second one!

Steve and his wife looked for a long time, and wanted to know every detail behind the design and making of the Onefooter series. Their favourite line was “the ring is forged in various directions, just like life pushes and pulls you”. I was delighted when they chose this design to celebrate their 25th(!) wedding anniversary! Steve was sure to document ever detail of this decision and purchase, and said it was surely to be found under the hashtag #25thAnniversary (or is it #TwentyfifthAnniversary ?). Let me know if you find anything!

Here they are, practising for the actual celebration a few weeks out.

They do!!!

They do!!!

"You may kiss the bride!"

“You may kiss the bride!”

Alexandra from London was a complete hoot when she purchased this ring, encouraged by her her two teenage daughters and her brother Edward, who pointed out the very favourable exchange rate.  It was almost difficult to let go of this one, one of my most beloved creations of this last phase: a Onefooter ring in 18k yellow gold, set with this brilliantly gorgeous burgundy sapphire. “Happy 21st anniversary, dahhhling me!” she exclaimed, beaming as she admired the ring on her own hand.

18k yellow gold Onefootere ring with 0.93ct burgundy sapphire ... YUM!

18k yellow gold Onefootere ring with 0.93ct burgundy sapphire … YUM!

I love love love making people happy. And I love that I get to make things with my hands that do just that!

Check this out: I am the feature artist for Vancouver's Circle Craft Christmas Market 2015!

Check this out: I am the feature artist for Vancouver’s Circle Craft Christmas Market 2015!

I already look forward to returning to CircleCraft for the November 11-15th Christmas Market, but first I’ll head to NYC for the trade-only NYNow. I take great care to decide which galleries get to represent my work, and so I look forward to meeting new gallery owners there.

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