Tag Archives: goldsmith

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

 

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