Ferris Wheel

by Elaine Luther

Here’s the question the four of us posed to ourselves:

What tool, technology, skill or technique has most impacted your work, and in what way?

The blog carnival participants are:

Angela Baduel Crispin
Elaine Luther
Marco Fleseri
Tamra Gentry

So, now I have to answer this tough essay question!

It’s a fun question, because I love tools. There aren’t many tools out there that I can’t justify buying.

I have an hydraulic press, a full size corrugator… Well, I won’t embarrass myself by going on.

So which one, what tool, technology, skill or technique has most impacted my work, and in what way?

Though it may not surprise you, I’m going to say Precious Metal Clay. I’ve been a metalsmith since 1990. I’ve learned a lot of tools and techniques since then. As an instructor myself, I make myself take at least one class a year from someone else, to remind myself how hard it can be to be a student, and learn something new.

So I’ve taken a lot of classes. Just in recent years I’ve taken workshops in metal corrugation, making your own eye glasses frames, and jewelry rendering, to name a few.

Sometimes it can take years to integrate a new technique or idea into your own work. You don’t know where a new technique or thought is going to take you when you start, you just have to trust that it might and be open.

While I do a lot of work in Precious Metal Clay, I still work with conventional metals and use casting to create pieces.

What is it about Precious Metal Clay?

Well, here’s a piece I’ve shown you before, my Anti-War Medal, “Why Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye.”

Anti-war Medal by Elaine Luther

(To see the image larger, and read more about it, read the original post here.)

I don’t think I would have made that piece without PMC. Sure, it’s possible. I could have sawn out the outer circle in sterling, stamped the words out with metal stamps. I could have made the leg in wax and had it cast by my caster, then riveted it onto the metal ring.

The fine silver mesh would have been harder to deal with — it’s so fine and thin that I don’t think it can be soldered, especially to something so thick and large as the outer ring.

So I would have had to rivet that as well, possibly changing the look of the piece.

It would have been harder, taken longer, and I might not have finished it.

Sure, the challenge is part of what metalsmithing IS to a lot of us. I get that. For a long time, my motto for metalsmithing was from the movie, A League of their Own.

You know, when Gina Davis’s character says she’s quitting baseball. Coach Tom Hanks presses her for a reason. She says, “It’s too hard.” He says,

“It’s the hard that makes it good, if it weren’t hard, everybody’d do it.”

And I think that’s part of what can upset metalsmiths about PMC sometimes.

That’s okay, I understand it both ways, and I’ve stopped trying to persaude metalsmiths to try PMC.

But the reason it works for me, is partly because it’s faster and easier. I have a lot of responsibilities these days, a lot of roles, a lot of hats. Not as much time to make art as I’d like.

And, I’ve come to discover in life, that sometimes, it’s okay if things are easy. Not everything has to be hard. Sometimes things will only exist, only come into being, if I don’t work quite so hard at it.

So that’s how PMC is the most significant tool/technology in my work, and its impact on my work is that I have work that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

It has been the thing that has allowed my ideas to come to fruition. I wonder what I’ll use it for next?

Here are the links to the answers the other three have posted today:

Angela Baduel Crispin
Marco Fleseri
Tamra Gentry

(c) 2008 Elaine Luther All Rights Reserved

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