Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Instructor Spotlight - Barbara Minor and Chris Hentz

We are pleased to have scheduled jewelry artists Barbara Minor and Christopher Hentz from Baton Rouge to teach at Shake Rag on their way home from the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee, where their classes are always popular. Here is a short interview with each of them.

Barbara Minor

 1) How long have you been doing enameling?

I have been enameling since my mid-20's.  While in graduate school, studying jewelry and metalsmithing, I took a two week enameling class with Bill Helwig.  It was an amazing two weeks that, literally, changed my life.  My next opportunity to do more enameling didn't happen until I was out of school and teaching at the State University of New York at Geneseo.  I was able to continue working with and expand upon what I learned during those influential two weeks, which encouraged me to include enameling as part of the jewelry/metalsmithing classes I taught at Geneseo.  Since the late 1980's, enameling combined with jewerly/metalsmithing techniques has been my primary focus for my work and for teaching workshops.

Enameled Beads
 2) There are many specialties in jewelry. What drew you to enameling?

The magical qualities of color and the endless possibilities when combining enameling with metalsmithing/jewelry techniques made enameling irresistible.

 3) Do you have a favorite process or technique?

My favorite time enameling is when I can turn on the kiln and just enamel without any specific task to complete.  I can explore and experiement with ideas for new ways of using enamels.  There is always the question....what if you did this?  Those are the questions for which I like to find the answer.  A favorite technique....that's hard because they all capture my interest and encourage creativity.

Enameled Brooch
 4) Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

Color combinations - all kinds of places.  I seem to be especially drawn to Japanese fabric and decorative papers.  I really love looking at flowers - lately exotic hibiscus flowers have been of particular interest.  I think about color theory and color relationships, asking myself which color will really make another more beautiful and will convey the idea or feeling I'm trying to get across to viewers.

 5) What advice do you have for novice artisans starting out?

Learn from a respected teacher whose work you like and then practice the techniques taught as soon after the class as you can.  Remember what you've done in your experiments (colors, thickness of enamel, techniques used) and then make note of the results when the piece comes out of the kiln.  This will help you build your enameling vocabulary.

Barb will be teaching Enameling June 15-17

Christopher Hentz

 1) How long have you been doing metalsmithing?

Since undergraduate school - 1972.  I studied with Robert Montgomery at Indiana State University and Richard Thomas at Cranbrook Academy of Art.  

 2) What drew you to jewelry metalsmithing as a medium for artistic expression?
Silver and Turquoise Brooch

I chose jewelry/metalsmithing because the objects I could make allowed me to be a part of celebrating special moments in a person's life.

 3) Do you have a favorite process or technique?

That changes over the years.....  It has been raising/forming sheet metal, soldering/complex fabrication and currently Digital Fabrication (a.k.a. CAD CAM/RP).  

 4) Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

It seems as though anything can provide "visual stimulus".  So, it's not a specific subject matter, but can be any visual or verbal input.

Container Group
 5) What advice do you have for novice artisans starting out in metalsmithing?

Learn to see and think about forms and ideas.  Read a lot.  Observe a lot.  Don't limit yourself.

Chris will be teaching Soldering June 15-17

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