Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Self-Taught...You Sure About That? By Karen McGovern

One of my favorite 'fridge magnets from Mincing Mockingbird.
I have referred to myself as a self-taught artist/jewelry designer on many occasions.  I have no formal training, have never taken a class or course in any form of jewelry design or construction.  BUT, Since I began blogging and writing articles for my website, posting tutorials, etc. I have come to the realization that calling myself self-taught is actually a load of crap!  I am anything but self-taught.

The first book I ever purchased that really propelled my jewelry career was Making Connections by Susan Lenart Kazmer.  I poured over every page, eager to try every technique shown.  Then came Semiprecious Salvage by Stephanie Lee, that spring-boarded my own creation of storybook designs and poetry pieces.  Now my bookshelf is loaded with fantastic publications covering everything from mixed media art, to surface techniques in metals and polymer clay, to studio design, to history (Five Centuries of Jewelry Design--fantastic) and on and on and get the picture, I love books!  And don't get me started on my magazine collection.  I already told you I hoard Art Jewelry Magazine, Jewelry Artist Magazine and Ornament Magazine, just to name a few.  Talk about a wealth of information...
One of the six loaded shelves on my book case...

But wait!  We cannot forget or overlook the glory that is YouTube.  Bless the magic video machine!  There is a video for just about any jewelry or design technique you can think of, created by generous home artists and professional jewelers alike.  Hours and hours of detailed, FREE information!  It's mind boggling, and I am ever grateful to those artists willing to share their talent and expertise so publicly.  Here I learned soldering basics, annealing, mold making, fold-forming and so much more!

A tiny screenshot of Youtube taken when I put the words
"jewelry tutorials" in the search box.  Notice the "About 155,000" results!!

My point is that from the moment I picked up wire cutters and a pair of pliers I relied on other artists to teach me, and continue to do so.  I still remember my sister Lynn teaching me years ago how to do a basic wire wrap with a bead on a headpin...At the time I thought it was impossible!

Just because I haven't attended a formal class or course "in person" doesn't mean I taught myself...NOT BY A LONG SHOT!  I am the product of those artists whose techniques I mastered through their books, articles, tutorials and videos.  I wish I could thank them all in person...some have directly influenced my work, ethics, and desire to explore.  I am deeply grateful and anxious to learn more!

By that same token, I hope I can offer something in return to new artists taking those exhilarating first steps into the wonderful world of art jewelry and design.  I plan to post more tutorials on my website and here, as well as share whatever I can about  my own artistic journey.  I've said it before--art is a community, and I believe we must support and encourage each other as much as possible.  We'll only become better artists for it!

So, here are the top five books in my collection (besides the three I already mentioned), in no particular order.  I highly recommend them all...find them on Amazon!

Amulets and Talismans, Robert Dancik
Soldering Made Simple, Joe Silvera
Mixed Metal Mania, Kim St. Jean
Heat, Color, Set & Fire, Mary Hettmansperger
Metal Artist's Workbench - Demystifying the Jeweler's Saw, Thomas Mann

Next, a few artists (new to me) that are blowing my mind right now:
Note:  All these artists also have Facebook pages, so go "Like" and "Share" them!

Rosy Revolver

Katie Poterala

I'd love for you all to share your favorite books, publications and artists here as well, that way we can all learn something!

Until next time, get those hands dirty!!


Nana Louise Nielsen said...

Well said. I think for me Self-taught doesn't mean reinventing every technique myself, but just that I didn't enter a big institution with a set program and a defined path of what you need to learn to call yourself a jeweller (how-ever much I would have liked too).
It sounds like I do what you do. Some new book or youtube or blog sparks of an interest in a new area and I then hunt for more and more information till I'm satisfied - or more likely get distracted by the next thing :oD
I have attended lots of smaller courses though. I love to pick and choose courses very specific to my current interests.

I love this approach. I have a 'proper' degree in interactive media and half the things we were 'forced to learn' I had no interest in and never picked up again.

For books I recommend any of Sharylin Miller's books on wire work. She is a star.

TesoriTrovati said...

Agreed! When people ask where I got my training (ie where I went to art school) I tell them I have a GGA - God Given Ability, and I am not afraid to use it! ;-) I have books galore, like you. My goal this year was to pull one down each month and learn something new. I think I did that about 3 times so far this year. I have too many books to list just a few but mostly I like them for the directions that they push me in like Torch Fired Enamel, Jewelry Designs from Nature, Bohemian Inspired Jewelry. I like to buy books on subjects I have no connection to, as you never know how they might inspire you! Thanks for sharing these wonderful (new to me) artists, too! Enjoy the day. Erin

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, I too am self-still-teaching. I devour every one of those magazines and have read several of the books too! My favourite go-to YouTube jewelry artist is Soham Harrison....I've learned so much from his amazing talent. Sometimes I'll just ogle on Pinterest and Flikr and dream one day of being THAT good. Once we keep learning, expanding, exploring what we love, how could we ever be unhappy? NEVER! x

Neena Shilvock said...

I too love to collect books, and I raid Amazon for books on wire and polymer clay jewellery. I pick techniques from various books and draw them together into a single piece, which then becomes my own. You tube, and the wonderful artists who write free tutorials, as well as those who sell beautifully illustrated detailed tuts - Bless your Cotton Socks! I have too many to enumerate, but books by Donna Kato, Tory Hughes and Jodi Bombardier spring to mind

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