Yesterday I had the great honor and privilege of taking a Workshop from one of the living legends and superstars of the Art Jewelry world, Harold O’Connor. I am still blown away. I suspect that what I experienced yesterday will have a powerful influence on me and my work for years to come. It’s not very often that one has the good fortune of being able to take a workshop from someone with the incredible artistic talents like Harold, who is known internationally and classically trained as an art jeweler. Remember the importance of investing in yourself! This was an incredibly valuable learning experience for me. I don’t really think I could put a price tag on it.
The top photograph shows two of the pieces I did yesterday. I’ll share a few more of my pieces in this post. In this workshop, Harold showed us his technique for reticulating silver. It involves a process of bringing the fine silver up to the metal’s surface and in the final stage, you apply heat to create these patterns. The metal starts to fold on itself. Sometimes you get peaks, other times valleys and sometimes a real surprise! What I found captivating was the metal starts to take a shape and then you can coax it with the flame to try and guide it in the pattern and shapes you want to generate outward from the initial formation. If you’d like a more technical explanation of what reticulation is, follow this link to Ganoksin’s site. Of course, as with all things, practice … practice …. practice.
Harold is a master at this. Of course, he is a master jeweler and craftsman. He makes guiding metal with heat to take form and shape look easy. My first attempts were not so good, but the later pieces really turned out nice. As Lexi would say the true mark of a master teacher is to make the process look effortless. Harold did that. Now he’s inspired me and created a hunger to do this technique well. The class was able to witness his talents in motion. He would take a piece of metal, begin heating it and shapes would begin to form. One of his started to look like a moon crater to me. Once the shape started, he just worked it to create the direction he saw the metal was going to move. It was like watching Michelangelo create the Sistine Chapel only with metal! I was blown away.
The workshop took place at Coyote Creek Studio Arts in Fairplay, Colorado. My good friend and mentor, Lexi Erickson, was able to put this together. Thank you Lexi!!!! Harold is her dear friend and mentor. It was a true joy to watch the two of them interact.
A few more of mine. In this picture, the one on the left really started to form a great peak.
This started out as a flat piece and then I used some tools to create even more of a 3-D effect. I find this soooooo cool.
Right now I have no idea what I will make with these. I do know they will be going into my new works. Some I may just frame in some fashion and let them speak for themselves. Others I may use sections of and incorporate as an accent in a piece. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to adding more reticulation into my work.
For all you metalsmiths, if you ever have a chance to take a Harold O’Connor workshop, seize that opportunity! Trust me, you will never regret it. He is a giving teacher. Very willing to share what he knows. As an added bonus, he shared a bit about granulation….oh yes, I plan on adding that technique to my skill set too. Harold uses granulation quite a bit in his work, I would encourage you to visit his website to see excellent examples of this in his gallery.
I’m still riding on that learning high. Anxious to get to work, practice what I learned. Phenomenal stuff! Again, thank you Harold and thank you Lexi.
Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person…. you know I am.