Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dana Stenson Jewelry and Metalwork

Hello. I've been invited to post here as a guest, and I feel very honored to have been asked! It's always a challenge to describe one's work to a new audience, but at the same time I find it has a benefit in that it forces us to clarify to ourselves exactly what it is that we do. I recently updated my artist statement for one of the galleries that I am in and this is the result: "My work is inspired by natural and cultural history: creatures, landscape, human history and myth. I strive to make unique one-of-a-kind pieces using a wide range of traditional silversmithing techniques and unique fabrication details. My primary medium is sterling silver with natural stones and occasional found objects. Each piece is handcrafted from start to finish."

I think this sums it up well. I love a challenge. I love to create pieces that are multifaceted, involving layered narrative, multiple elements and techniques.  In the spring I received the exciting news that one of my pieces would be included in Lark Books publication "Showcase 500 Art Necklaces", which was released in July. The piece they chose to include is one of my all-time favorites.
Georgia Helen Griffith, a Locket.  Photo by John Dowling

Front and back views of the locket.
 
This locket is a portrait of my great-grandmother Georgia Helen Griffith.  The elements in the locket tell the story of her life as a missionary to Jamaica in 1890.  On the reverse of the locket is a map of the Caribbean. The piece includes etched copper, sterling, lost wax cast bones, antique compass and photograph, garnets, and sapphires.  The locket is entirely hand-fabricated.
What I love about metalwork is that it is impossible to get bored. There are endless skills to learn. There is always a technical or creative challenge to be found.  The piece below is a lost wax-cast cicada with hand-pierced articulated sterling silver wings.  This piece was inspired by childhood antics playing with my brother. We loved to collect the cicada shells (he still has a huge collection). The cicada is symbolic in many cultures. In China the cicada represents long-life. In France the cicada was traditionally given as a housewarming gift. This is a design I have reproduced a few times because my customers have been very fond of it. As an artist or designer, if you ever find yourself at a loss for inspiration, just pick something from your life: a person, a memory, a favorite thing, and challenge yourself to express it though your jewelry.  That has been the starting point for many of my favorite creations.

I studied in the Jewelry and Metalsmithing program at Syracuse University.  I have also taken courses through Munson Williams Proctor in Utica.  In May I studied wax carving for lost-wax casting with Kate Wolf at her studio in Portland, Maine.  For anyone interested in metalwork, I would recommend all of these.  Syracuse University has a comprehensive degree program.  If you're looking to learn just a few skills though, the program in Utica is quite good and very affordable.  Here is a peek at my studio.

I'd also like to invite you to keep up with my work by following my blog: www.dreamsinmetal.blogspot.com.
My work can be found in a few galleries as well as a handful of shows, all listed on the blog as well. Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks MaryAnn for the invitation!  
Sterling silver bracelet with dendritic agate, fossil coral, fossil ammonite and trilobite

5 comments:

mairedodd said...

thank you, dana, for sharing yourself, your thoughts and your work. it's all so inspiring. while i admire all you have shown, i really do love that cicada and can see why it is such a favorite with your customers.

Stacie said...

Dana..really enjoyed this awesome introduction to you and your work...I so resonate with taking what is important to you and transforming it artistically into an object that is inspired. Yay! Love your work...I have been looking into wax casting as well...very cool what you have done here!

Carol D. said...

Thank you for sharing your work and your studio. I find your work beautiful and interesting and am now following your blog. Thanks.

LisaS said...

Beautiful work!

Bonnie said...

Wow! I love the locket memorial to your great-grandmother. What a fabulous tribute to her.

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