Jewelry-Making Renewal: Back in the Studio with Susan Lenart Kazmer
We’re honored to have one of my favorite jewelry artists sharing her thoughts and recent work in a guest blog today. Thank you Susan!
Back In the Studio: Metalsmithing and Enameling with Limited Tools and Supplies
By Susan Lenart Kazmer
At last, I am finding myself back in my studio with time and flow to invent. Once again, it feels good to indulge in some right brain agelessness to discover new ideas and new work . . . you know, that time that we all crave but can never seem to find once we get our work out there? It feels to me like a renewal. I am challenging myself to use just a few tools; torch, anvil, hammer and silver. And for enameling, I’m focusing on copper, kiln and opaque liquid enamels. I am reaching in deep to my roots and reinventing myself and my work.
Even in my new work, you can still see a strong love of creating relics and employing symbolism. Because I am trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, I come at my metalwork as an artist first and foremost. I am using the power of symbolism and mark-making to create my shape, form, color, and dimension. My intention is to build relics of present time.
In my new body of work, I use primarily sterling silver and practice techniques such as brazing, forging, and sgraffito using liquid enamels. Sgraffito is a term meaning “to scratch.” I build layers with my enamels and scratch away the top layer before firing to expose the colors that lay below the surface. It’s a pretty amazing process! My inspiration for my marks comes from graffiti walls, cave paintings, and personal symbolism built from my own experiences.
In my artistic growth, my symbolism, shapes, and form have changed. I am very interested in the circular shape, as its meaning is endless life and coming full circle. My techniques are forging heavy-gauge wire, and brazing and soldering sterling silver sheet metal to create my own artifacts and prayer boxes.
As an instructor, I am always working to pull out my students’ own expression and have them discover what their own work is about. What are your marks? What shape makes you feel peaceful and happy? In the classroom, I work with beginning students alongside goldsmiths. So in my teaching format, I present a project down the middle and most people leave with a finished piece while picking up many new skills on the way. I am very much looking forward to teaching four workshops at Bead Fest Philadelphia this August based on the ideas presented above and on my new work. The venue allows me to spread out with lots of room and supply a metalworking studio for my students to create in the best learning environment I can provide.
I addition to teaching and instruction, I have some exciting opportunities as I move back into Couture Jewelry. I’m beginning to work with a stylist, a professional who dresses celebrities and other well-known women. My work was included in 10 pages of Elle magazine, and I am launching once again in upscale art galleries and stores, including Santa Fe Dry Goods and Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, next month. You can always see more at www.susanlenartkazmer.com. –Susan
You can learn the same techniques that Susan is enjoying in her studio right now, too! Learn from the artist herself in her five-star-rated Resin Alchemy and her video workshops on coloring on metal and wire cage jewelry.
Check out the library of inspiring and instructional videos and books by Susan Lenart Kazmer!