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SUNDIAL RING of sterling silver and peridot; 3.2 centimeters diameter, 2014. Photograph by Ron Bez.
Randy Stromsoe

Luscious Materiality





For more than four decades, California artist Randy Stromsoe has created seductive, exquisitely handformed jewelry that demonstrates his modernist aesthetic of elemental forms, fluid geometries and formal elegance. Stromsoe’s designs arise from his vast knowledge of jewelry traditions and from learning what his hands and tools can do in unison. After working forty years at the bench, Stromsoe has attained the level of master craftsman in hollowware, flatware and jewelry. He can work with precision in silver, gold, copper, and pewter, and has mastered other techniques used in jewelry fabrication, including the lapidary processes of stonecutting and setting, and woodturning and carving. Having worked in forms as large as presentation trophies and liturgical chalices, Stromsoe knows how to make metal follow his exacting commands. But it is in the jewelry that one can see, on intimate scale, the most dramatic engagement with materials and greatest freedom with form; Stromsoe is at his most nuanced and boldly imaginative when designing ornament for the body.

Stromsoe’s path along the metalsmithing journey can be characterized as a series of serendipitous occurrences. He was first introduced to jewelry instruction in a crafts workshop class at Los Angeles Valley College taught by Zella Margraff. Stromsoe enrolled believing it was a class where he could learn furniture-making and woodcarving. Initially “devastated” when he realized he had been misplaced in a jewelry/metals class, Stromsoe soon discovered that Margraff was a “fascinating teacher who had a rich life as an artist designing and creating art jewelry.” Margraff was a European-trained jeweler whose work was internationally recognized. The focus of her class was to teach jewelry fabrication techniques, as well as the history and appreciation of contemporary jewelry to both beginning and advanced students. Stromsoe had a natural gift with orchestrating the movements and flow of hammer, saw and solder, and he began to love metalsmithing.





Jo Lauria
Is a curator and arts writer who specializes in design, craft and decorative arts. The article on Randy Stromsoe’s jewelry had its origin in the mid-1990s when she met Stromsoe during the installation of The White House Collection of American Crafts exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where she was serving as the on-site curator. Stromsoe’s “Centerpiece Bowl on Three-Legged Stand” on display was, in her opinion, one of the stand-outs of the exhibition. Stromsoe was one of five panelists that she invited to participate in a moderated discussion on American crafts. Not knowing it then, but realizing it now, Lauria recalls that the panel featured the rising stars and stalwarts of the craft field: Anne Hirondelle, Randy Stromsoe, Frank E. Cummings, III, Wendell Castle, and Sam Maloof—all represented by a piece in the exhibition. This report is the culmination of following Stromsoe’s professional career for more than a decade and closely watching his development.




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