I am a maker of functional sterling silver objects. I create each piece entirely by hand in my one-person studio. Each object is a hollow fabrication and is formed from flat sheets of sterling. The surface embellishment is accomplished using two different ‘inlay’ techniques: the first is ‘hammered inlay,’ in which various metals are soldered on top of a base sheet and hammered in; the second is a process known as ‘marriage of metal’ in which different metals are cut out in precise shapes, assembled like a jigsaw puzzle, and soldered together. In both cases, the inlay process is done first, the pieces are then formed, and the surfaces hand-filed, sanded and polished so that the ‘inlay’ becomes part of a smooth, consistent surface.
Silversmithing is a dying craft. There has been a decline in the appreciation of hand-labor and the value of the true, one of a kind object. We, as a society, no longer entertain with the extravagance of preceding generations and the silver that we own is mostly in the form of items handed down to us from the past. I believe that living with and using beautiful, finely crafted, unique silver objects—whether we are alone or entertaining—enhances the experience of daily life.
I am a traditionalist at heart—a lover of antiquities and of objects made with only modest tools and a human being’s hands. I strive to keep alive an understanding of and an appreciation for one of a kind, hand made objects. While that appreciation and understanding still exists for ‘fine art,’ sculpture, and non-functional craft forms, the functional object has been turned over almost entirely to manufacturing. It baffles me that an object which has a utilitarian purpose is perceived as less ‘valuable’ than an object which exists simply for the pleasure of existing.
The inspiration for my work comes from several areas: the ceremonial objects unearthed from centuries long past; the ideas of family heirlooms and treasured objects; and the knowledge that objects made from metal last forever and will survive long after I am gone. My work is both my celebration of past history and my legacy left for future generations.
Stylistically, I have been influenced by the simplicity of form found in Scandinavian craft forms, the simple elegance of Japanese graphics, and the rich surfaces of African textiles and wood carvings. I admire simple, direct forms and use my inlay techniques to enhance the surfaces. I work to create a more ‘modern,’ contemporary appreciation of sterling silver objects in contrast to the baroque extravagance of traditional silver. I also work to let people know that it’s okay to indulge themselves—to acquire, use, and live with ‘new’ heirlooms.
Most importantly, by resisting current stylistic ‘trends’ and fads, I believe that my work will endure the test of time.
If you’re still reading this, you may, at this point, be asking yourself “okay, but what about the barns, the silos, the water towers and toys?” These objects are my newest work, and are constructed from sterling silver, copper, nickel, and fabulous glass enamels! After many years of doing strictly functional work, and adhering to the beliefs mentioned above, I had a bit of an artistic crisis a couple of years ago.
I found that I wanted my work to express ideas, evoke emotional responses, and interact with the viewer on a more personal level. I also realized that I had spent a couple of decades making what I thought I ‘should’ make, and that it was time to start making things I ‘want’ to make--I’m discovering that there is quite a difference.
My new work is about memories, childhood, places I’ve lived and seen, people I remember and, some of it is simply made to make me smile. With the new work, I feel I have reached a mature style and that I am making the best work of my career. I have more ideas than I have time in which to execute them. It’s a good problem to have.