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Volume 32 No.5 2009


Ornament Magazine

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Cover Feature: Nancy Megan Corwin


Nancy Megan Corwin A Passion for Technique. Kristin Lora An Artful Whimsy. Alexander Calder The Art of Perpetual Motion. Martin Churba A Textile Alchemist. Hazel Blake French Beholding Beauty in the Everyday. Saul Bell Design Award Following in a Founder’s Footsteps. Ethnographic Arts Chinese Toggles. Enamel Arts The Enamel Show. Glass Arts GlassWear. Native Arts Identity by Design. Venue Little & Large.

Nancy Megan Corwin 
by Carl Little 
Nancy Megan Corwin

A Passion for Technique
For her first teaching stint at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, this past June, Seattle-based metalsmith Nancy Megan Corwin came well prepared. A seasoned instructor at all levels of metal crafts, Corwin arrived at the seaside campus with samples of her work, a wide array of tools and a passion for two techniques of which she is a celebrated master and teacher: chasing and repoussé.Corwin also brought along the galley proof for her first book, Chasing and Repoussé: Methods Ancient and Modern, which will be published later in 2009. Seated in the Gateway building, the welcoming and lecture hall at Haystack, she unveiled the work, the fruit of many years of labor and a powerful desire to create a beautiful and useful study of those centuries-old methods for transforming metals into objects of art and adornment. Photographs by Doug Yaple.


   Kristin Lora
by Leslie Clark
Kristin Lora

An Artful Whimsy
Like Geppetto, Kristin Lora likes to make things come alive. In her jewelry, in her sculptural objects and art toys, something moves. Wheels roll, carousels twirl, things swing, wiggle around, fall down or open up, suggesting an animation and a kind of gleeful enjoyment at how much fun it all is. Lora herself frequently seems in motion, springing up to show a new piece or prowling her studio, picking up and checking a work tool, demonstrating how she cuts metal. A good part of her life has been lived on the move. For a long time, her jewelrymaking ran in tandem with a high-pressure, frequent-flier career as a corporate executive, used to a three-hour daily commute and routinely traveling around the world. Growing up, she remembers family vacations spent on weeks-long driving trips around the States, Mexico and Europe. Probably as a result of all that momentum, Lora says, “I have a thing for vehicles.”  Photographs by Sara Stathas and Kristin Lora.


    Alexander Calder
by Patrick R. Benesh-Liu
Alexander Calder

The Art of Perpetual Motion
The twentieth century was in many ways the dawn of communication throughout the world. Communication need not take place merely through the spoken or written word; the mere enabling of physical proximity by the progressive transportation advances of those times allowed those who just a century earlier may never have met in person to see one another face-to-face. World travel was finally possible to an ever-increasing percentage of the global population. What this heralded was an exchange of ideas that had never before existed on such a scale. It was through this development that the Modernist movement was founded and flourished—an influx of influences from throughout the world fed the imaginations of a new generation. It was in this atmosphere that the great American creator Alexander Calder found his artistic birth. The Modernist era was perhaps the first major epoch where humanity, at least the Western portion of it, saw a distinct difference between the past and the present, a break in traditional continuity. It was a repudiation of the old, but also trepidation of what was to come. The modern age had arrived, and it was new, wondrous, frightening, a change that heralded a new beginning. Perhaps the foremost American craftsman of the Modernist period, Calder produced both sculptural work as well as jewelry with an insatiable passion. Photographs courtesy of and copyrighted by 2009 Calder Foundation, New York/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photography by Maria Robledo.


  Martin Churba
by Susan Tabir Avila   
Martin Churba

A Textile Alchemist
Meeting Argentine designer Martín Churba for the first time is electric. His charming, charismatic personality exudes a buoyant energy that captivates immediately, not unlike the dynamic, fashion forward clothing of Tramando, his Buenos Aires design company. I met Churba in March 2009, when I visited Buenos Aires to attend the World Textile Art exhibition. One of the many concurrent activities I attended was his four hour textile manipulation workshop.  The workshop was held in the Tramando textile laboratory, a large warehouse with big worktables and two giant heat press machines. The lab also houses a library of materials—an archive of all the textile samples his company has developed over the past six years. Churba started the workshop by pulling out samples—mysterious, multilayered, indecipherable fabrics that were quickly passed to each of the forty participants for close examination. But the group, consisting mostly of textile artists, clamored to know more about his creative process. Churba, without missing a beat, jumped on top of the table where everyone could see him and proceeded to explain the techniques used to make every swatch. Photographs by Diego Danei and Susan Taber Avila.


Hazel Blake French
by Nezka Pfeifer
  Hazel Blake French

Beholding Beauty in the Everyday
In the twentieth century, a jewelry designer on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, brought together her skill, education and artistic inspiration to create unique designs that mirrored the natural world around her as well as the historic legacy of the material in her jewelry. Hazel Blake French was an Arts & Crafts jewelry designer who interpreted the colorful beauty of Sandwich glass fragments through her creations of intricate and sculptural jewelry, which were inspired by the indigenous flora and fauna of Cape Cod. Internationally renowned for her designs, she left a multifaceted legacy of her vision to see the beauty in the everyday, along with an artistic ability to represent the natural world. Photographs by Ed Knute.


  Saul Bell Design Award
by Jill A. DeDominicis
  Saul Bell Design Award

Following in a Founder’s Footsteps
At the time Saul Bell started what would become the industry giant Rio Grande, it was just a modest shop on historic Route 66 in Albuquerque. A good businessman with a love for sharing knowledge of jewelrymaking, Bell pushed forward through the years, ever expanding into the company that today serves jewelrymakers and hobbyists in all their needs, from tools and equipment to materials, displays and packaging. “When my father passed away in 1996,” Saul’s son Alan Bell remembers, “our family began talking about using a design competition to recognize his mastery of jewelry arts, and his love for sharing his lifetime of knowledge in every aspect of the craft.” Now approaching its tenth year, the Saul Bell Design Award competition has been honoring great design and excellence in execution since the very beginning. Photographs courtesy of Rio Grande.



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