Exploring Cold Connections: Wire and Rivet Joins in Jewelry with Susan Lenart Kazmer

You've probably seen me mention how much I love Susan Lenart Kazmer's work, and in particular I'm drawn to the wire connections in many of her designs. Some of her masterpieces look as if they're held together by twists if wire as delicate and decorative as a ribbon on a present–yet they're secure.

Connections like that are attractive but they're also essential in some jewelry designs, especially ones that feature found objects (that can't be soldered) like Susan's usually do. I'm always intrigued by this form of cold connection in her work, because it looks so simple but it is part of a master's very artistic jewelry design. So when I had the chance to ask her to write about cold connections for Jewelry Making Daily, I took it! Here are Susan's thoughts on using cold joins in jewelry making. Enjoy! –Tammy

Building Jewelry with Cold Joins
By Susan Lenart Kazmer 

I have always used non-traditional and unconventional materials hand-in-hand with the ancient art of fine metalworking with precious metals in my work. Because of the nature of my work, that is, incorporating mixed- media into my jewelry, I began to use the process and technique of cold join attachments with my silversmithing very early on in my art career. I had to figure out and invent ways to incorporate sticks, feathers, leaves, glass, and any other personal object into my work for connections and attachments that will stand the tests of time. I mastered the art of staples, tabs, piano hinges, tube and wire rivets, as well as wire attachments.

Back in my 20s when I began this style of mine, I first spent many years studying Talismans, objects and many different kinds of artifacts. Back then, you could buy better pieces on the streets of Bangkok or Nepal than you would see in the museums. I saw what materials people were building with for their magic and how these fragile materials were put together. I saw sticks, painted and bound with fiber, wooden artifacts stitched together with wire, and jewelry created out of carved wood and amber.

For me, jewelry was always more than just the fine art of precious metal. To me metal work in jewelry is there just to provide strength and endurance to hold, bind, and protect an important object or some precious material inside. Many times, the cold join is barely visible, so my material or objects can shine. Sometimes, my attachments are all about the join.

I learned early on that glue was inappropriate for adhering objects to metal. It is almost disappointing as a lover of joins to see a piece just floating as glue will do. It is much more interesting to see and discover a fabulous attachment. I will still buy a piece of jewelry for an ingenious join.

When I decided to write a book on cold joins, Making Connections: A Handbook of Cold Joins for Jewelers and Mixed-Media Artists, I set a personal challenge for myself to take a three-year sabbatical on soldering. It was really a wonderful to way to stretch my work and abilities. At the time, I considered it a cop out to solder a bezel and fit it snug in its compartment, because it really excited me and stretched my brain power to search for a different solution to join. It made me look at the world in a different way as I looked for solutions everywhere. I studied door hinges and how they swung open and closed. Heating ducts excited me to no end!

I began building bezels that imitated these architectural wonders. I scoured museums and saw how fiber and string were used to bind. I replaced these ingenious attachments with wire. I found a wealth of ideas and built them in my studio during this three-year period. From this life experience, my work followed and Making Connections was born. I then spent the next years teaching other artists how to incorporate these innovative cold joins into their work as well. Now you can recognize my work by its cold joins, wirework, and resin techniques, as seen in my new book Resin Alchemy, as well as unconventional objects in mixed-media jewelry.  –SLK

In addition to the books Susan mentioned above, she has two great video workshops that share how to create her special jewelry-making style–Exploring Resin Jewelry-Making with Susan Lenart Kazmer and Metalwork: Making Cold Connections with Rivets with Susan Lenart Kazmer.

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