The West Town Art Walk is right around the corner. Urban Source is excited to feature Liz Clary as our local artisan for this event.
Liz has a special place in our heart because she uses Urban Source wallpapers in her design process!!
Liz makes molds of textures she is drawn to that later become the surface of her silver jewelry. When we found out that some of these textures were coming from the wallpapers we have in the showroom, we knew we needed to see more! Liz invited us into her studio to get a first hand look at her process, where we also got to ask her more about her work. Here is what we found out..
Meet Liz Clary! Here is an example of the Wallpaper texture turned into a mold and the final product.
Urban Source: What process do you use to make these pieces?
Liz Clary: It depends. Sometimes I start with an idea in my head, and I look for shapes and textures to match my idea. But many times, I start with a texture, a shape, or a form, and I let those dictate the piece. With all my pieces though, I use precious metal clay.
Here is Liz in her studio
US: What makes this process special/different from other ways to make jewelry?
Liz Clary: For me, I think of this as something of a hybrid of artistic processes. It’s part ceramics, part metal-smithing. I don’t think that most people who work with metal would consider this metal-smithing at all, and metal clay people want to avoid having to use metal-smithing techniques, but I’ve found ways to incorporate both into my work. Who doesn’t want an excuse to use a blowtorch?
US: How did you start working in this way?
Liz Clary: I made three-dimensional, sculptural beaded jewelry for years (using off-loom bead weaving techniques). It was highly detail-oriented, and slow to make. One bead at a time. Eventually, I wanted to try something new. I felt a bit confined by the medium. So, I was living in DC at the time, and I started looking for other art classes. I found precious metal clay (PMC). It was also very detail-oriented, but much faster to come away with a pair of earrings or a necklace. And the delicacy of working with this medium also drew me to it. The texture possibilities still seem endless to me, and I love that about metal clay.
Here are some antique pieces that Liz makes her pieces from
US: Describe the designs that people will see at the art walk.
Liz Clary: I draw heavily from the textures around me, whether it’s ornamental grasses or leaves, corn on the cob, wallpaper textures, or door hinges and knobs. I make these textures into classic silver jewelry designs: pendant and charms, earrings of all shapes and sizes. And of course, a few not-so-classic designs, like necklaces with moving parts and hinges.
After the molds have been made, Liz rolls the PMC into the mold to transfer the desired texture.
US: You have talked about carrying your equipment with you and making molds of what inspires you right on the spot. Can you talk more about this process of guerrilla mold making?
Liz Clary: I love guerrilla molding. It’s fun to look at objects in everyday life in a new way. I always carry a silicone molding compound in my purse in case I see a texture I need to capture. Like in the elevator of my office building. I can’t buy the elevator, or take a piece of it home with me. But when no one else is on the elevator with me, I can mold a part of the wall and have that texture to work with for years to come. The same is true for door hinges and door knobs (I can buy the ones in hardware stores, but not the antique ones in my mother’s house). Getting to capture in perpetuity something that is otherwise fixed in one time and place is exciting.
After the texture is transfered, Liz carefully shapes and alters the clay until the piece is perfect. Then Liz puts the pieces in the kiln to burn out the organic binder (clay), leaving her pieces 99.9% silver!
After the pieces come out of the kiln, each needs to be specially treated by hand.
Depending on the design, Liz also utilizes several different patina techniques.
US: [Some of] Your jewelry pieces have interactive elements, gears and hinges. Can you talk more about your interest in the interactive elements?
Liz Clary: There are a few aspects to the hinges and gears. Like lots of other people, I just plain like to play with things and like things that move. But for many of the pieces with moving parts, there is a story behind them. Things that are hidden inside or buried beneath other things. Layers are an important component of stories and I get those layers with hinges.
One of Liz's pieces with a hinge. The texture on the surface is made from an Urban Source wallpaper!
US: Where do you see your line headed in the future?
Liz Clary: It’s hard to know. With the end of summer, I’ll have less inspiration in the natural world to draw textures from, so I might start etching and carving more of my own designs. Right now, I still feel very caught up in nature and gardens. And I’m presently a bit obsessed with moss. Luckily, there are a lot more techniques out there to be learned and to experiment with. I would get bored if I wasn’t constantly challenged by the medium.
Us: Is there anything else that you want us to know about your work?
Liz Clary: Come see it in person at the West Town Art Walk! If you can’t make it to the Art Walk, I have a small selection of my work online: www.silverbyliz.etsy.com
Come be apart of the flourishing West Town community at the West Town Art Walk.
Friday October 4th from 6pm- 10pm
Saturday October 5th from 11am- 10pm
For more event information, visit: http://westtownartwalk.com
Come for the art, and stay for shopping, wine, and good conversation! Don’t forget to say hi to the Urban Source team and the incredibly sweet Liz Clary!!