Friday, January 30, 2009

Featured Artisan - Sarah Hicks

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Sarah Hicks, I live in Birmingham and I’ve been a jewelry artisan for about 8 years now. I went to art school at the U of M in Ann Arbor where I studied Graphic Design. In the mid to late 90’s, I traveled a lot doing art fairs with my paintings, got burned out on the art fair circuit and by 2000 decided to wholesale my jewelry designs instead. Art has always been a big part of my life and I am very fortunate to have had parents that encouraged that part of me while growing up. I have such respect for artists of all types- musicians, visual artists, really anyone who lives creatively, not to mention those who support artists too! I am so thankful to be able to make and sell my work to people who appreciate handmade items.

What first made you want to become a jewelry designer?
I always knew that I wanted to do something creative, mainly working with my hands- crafting something. It wasn’t until my final semester of college that I took my first metals class and found that I really enjoyed it. I didn’t get back to working in metals until years later after taking a trip to Santa Fe and being wowed by all the glorious turquoise jewelry in the wonderful shops and galleries there. Having been a big fan of turquoise and Native American jewelry since I was a kid, I was instantly drawn to what I saw and experienced on that first trip to New Mexico in 2000. It really just clicked for me then and there, that making jewelry was what I needed to do. I started out using faceted semi-precious stones and doing a lot of beadwork and wire-wrapping. I’ve stuck with that mostly but every now and then I like to do some metalwork and stone-setting.

Describe your creative process.
The best thing for me to do is just to sit myself down and start making stuff even when I don’t feel like it and then I get into a zone and I don’t want to stop. I usually work while listening to my favorite music or NPR if it isn’t too serious (Fresh Air, Diane Rehm, This American Life). Sometimes I’ll act on an image of a piece that just pops into my head, usually first thing in the morning while I’m still half asleep. But more often than not, I look for inspiration on my messy worktable of my studio where I have thousands of beads spread out and certain random color combinations will jump out at me. It seems that the more jewelry I make, the more creative I get. Often when I’m in a non-productive funk I’ll to go to an art museum or a few galleries to get the creative juices flowing again.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work from?
I get inspired by color mostly. I may see some color combinations out in the world whether on fabric, in a painting or in nature which will inspire me to mix colors I normally wouldn’t with varied results. I also like to peruse the eye candy magazines at Borders- I actually get a lot of ideas there too. Other jewelry artists inspire me to do better, push myself and to try new things. I see some incredible new pieces out there all the time and am amazed at the talent I come across.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Cohen has Arrived

We just received a fantastic shipment of tiles from Massachusetts tile artist Michael Cohen. His tiles are 6" x 6" and feature his trademark cobalt glaze with a melted glass inlay over the image. These tiles also have padding on the back so they can be used in the kitchen as trivets. His tiles never stay in stock long, so hurry down for the best selection!

You can find Michael's tiles at both Dancing Eye Gallery locations, or by visiting our online store.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Spotlight on Doug Spalding

Michigan artist Doug Spalding has been working with clay since 1981 and has been a full time studio artist since 1990. He strives to create art that is fun and fun to make. His ceramic art reflects his lifelong interest in architecture and surface design.

Doug's raku tiles are each drawn by hand and then outlined with a black wax resist. Each color glaze is then applied. The tiles are fired in a raku kiln, then removed while they are still glowing hot and placed into combustible materials which promote crackle and luster efects.

For his traditional tiles Doug creates a plaster mold from his original designs. Each tile is hand pressed and then bisque fired. Each tile is hand decorated with multiple layers of glaze and then fired once more.

Doug's use of pop culture imagery, bright colors and fun subject matter make his tiles stand out at the Dancing Eye Gallery.