Discover Metal Clay Micromosaics and More with Jewelry Artist Patrik Kusek
“Have you seen this guy’s work?” then Jewelry Making Daily editor Tammy Jones asked me a while back, and included an image of Patrik Kusek’s metal clay micromosaics. I had not, but I got right on it! His jewelry pieces were unlike anything I’d seen, with a compelling mixture of detail, straight lines, curves, and a sense that was somehow both ancient and contemporary.
Create Designs with Tiny Tiles
Turns out there’s good reason for that. Patrik creates images with small pieces of material and puts them together: he makes mosaics. Some of his most arresting work uses extremely small pieces creating what’s called a micromosaic. This is an ancient art practiced centuries ago with glass: I have seen Venetian micromosaics you really do need a magnifying glass to appreciate fully, the tiles are so tiny, and the detail is astonishing. Patrik’s unique twist on micromosaics is using metal clay, a recently developed material introduced to the American market about 25 years ago, though it wasn’t until the somewhat later introduction of base metal clays in addition to precious metal clays that gave Patrik a really satisfyingly broad palette to play with.
A Peek at Making Metal Clay Micromosaics with Patrik Kusek
To create a mosaic, Patrik starts with a base plate and works on graph paper to ensure that the small tiles will fit on it just right.
Then he cuts out the small metal clay tiles, again using graph paper to keep everything on track.
And then he places the tiles on the base plate according to his design.
Meet Patrik Kusek
After seeing his metal clay micromosaics, I contacted Patrik last summer so we could introduce him to readers of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, and now I can’t wait to introduce him to all of you.
MW: What are some of your most interesting accomplishments?
PK: I won 1st place 2007 Saul Bell Award and 2nd place 2016 Saul Bell Award for metal clay.
MW: What are you working on now?
PK: Experimenting and pushing the limits of metal clay. I’ve also been working on granulation and experimenting with electroforming. You can see more of my work at www.patriksstudio.com.
MW: When did you start making jewelry, and what was the first piece you made?
PK: In the 7th grade, I made a macramé bracelet for my mom.
MW: Who are your jewelry heroes?
PK: Harold O’Connor, Judith Kinghorn, Celie Fago. Celie was the first metal clay artist who proved to me how stunning metal clay can be.
MW: Where do you draw inspiration from?
PK: I’m drawn to unique things with age and character. I appreciate antiques, and that’s why I find the fine cracks on the surface of a beautiful Baroque painting so appealing.
MW: Which part of jewelry making is your favorite?
PK: Changing people’s minds about metal clay. Today, we have wonderful artists across the globe who make stunning jewelry with metal clay.
MW: What’s the one that got away? What special item — stone, tool, design element, etc. — to this day do you wish you’d bought or otherwise acquired but didn’t?
PK: Not jewelry related but still the one that got away: Back in the early 1980s, I had a chance to buy an original Andy Warhol painting for $4500. It was a lot of money back then, but today it would be worth $4.5 million!
MW: Tell us what’s on your bench now.
PK: Granulation experiments, copper mugs that I’m restoring for a friend (Moscow Mule time!), and prototypes of brooches that use shells.
MW: What have you been up to recently?
PK: In addition to teaching, I’ve been working on a webinar that is a metal clay primer. There have been so many new clays and new firing techniques that I think that students will find this webinar informative.
I’ve also been working on two metal clay videos for Interweave that focus on base metal
clay and mosaics. The first video is more of an intro on how use base metal clays while making a mosaic
pendant. The second video shows more advanced techniques for making tiny micro mosaics. The micro mosaic tiles are about 1mm wide!
Ready to dive into the ancient/brand-new technique of creating micromosaics with metal clays? Patrik’s videos, Intro to Base Metal Clay and Micromosaics and Intermediate Metal Clay Micromosaics, are now available at www.interweave.com.
P.S. Patrik Offers Answers to Your Metal Clay Questions
Anyone who could develop the technique of creating metal clay micromosaics must know a lot about metal clay, and Patrik certainly does! I asked him for some tips on using metal clay, and he responded with more than a dozen answers to FAQs he’s heard while teaching.
Q: Can fired metal clay be repaired?
A: Fired metal clay can be repaired by using metal clay paste with an oil base. You can make your own oil paste by adding 10 to 15 drops of a natural essential oil such as lavender oil to a jar of metal clay paste. Mix until incorporated then let it rest overnight. Use the paste like glue to make the repairs, then fire the piece in a kiln at the recommended temperature.
Find answers to a dozen more FAQs on working with metal clay in Metal Clay FAQs with Patrik Kusek, Handmade Jewelry Designer