Carol Weir 2012
Naja Featured Artist Interview:
Naja Art Gallery, 2012
Why have you chosen jewelry and metal arts as your artistic expression?
As I contemplated retiring from a very satisfying career as a Child Protection Social Worker at the Denver Department of Human Services I knew that I wanted to do something that would satisfy my need for a highly creative endeavor. I had started taking some silversmithing, lapidary and casting classes in 2003 and decided to pursue jewelry making more when I had time to do so. Since 2005 I have taken multiple classes and workshops in metal arts with many outstanding artists in the field. My love of color came into play when I took an enameling class from Jewelry Artist Richard Sweetman and that has become the direction my work has taken. As an artist, I strive to express as much beauty and individuality in each piece as possible.
When did you start making jewelry?
8 ½ years ago. I started taking lapidary, casting and basic metals at Highlands Hill. I also took classes through the Lakewood Cultural Center where I met Richard Sweetman. I took an “eyeball” enamel class (Carol – please clarify!) and during the last 15 minutes of the class he showed us Cloisonné. I knew I was going to love it. I have control over the pattern, the color, the shape and the texture.
Who has inspired you the most?
Richard Sweetman has been the most amazing teacher for me – it feels as though he has an answer to every question I come up with. I’ll be forever grateful for my first lessons with him. Mary Ann Hunter (http://www.hunter-studios.com) and Ricky Frank (www.rickyfrankenamels.com) have also greatly inspired me.
What is your formal education or training in jewelry making?
I graduated with a BFA from CSU and then went to CU-Boulder where I did graduate work in painting and printmaking. Jewelry making was something different for me, but my experience with paint has helped a great deal in my enameling. I’ve also done weaving and graphic design as well as interior design – all these skills have helped me with jewelry making.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry you’ve made?
I don’t have a favorite per say – it seems as though every piece I’m working on at the time becomes my favorite! As soon as I start to work on a new piece, it quickly becomes my new favorite.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
What does a perfect day in the Studio look like?
They are all pretty perfect! I seem to get my ideas in the evenings as I’m falling asleep. First thing the next morning I’ll have an idea of what I’m going to make. When I’m working at Allen/Sweetman Studio we listen to 60’s and 70’s music so that helps to get things moving. When I’m working at home I’ll listen to classical music. My studio days are two or three days a week at Allen/Sweetman and then 2 days at Hyland Hills. I really enjoy having other artists around me, I find it very inspiring.
Using enamel seems like a huge commitment to color as well as shapes. How do you use color and how does it inspire you?
Initially I designed pieces around stones, which I’ve been collecting for years. When I started to use cloisonné I decided the cloisonné piece had become the stone and I started to design around my own cloisonné stones. One of the great beauties of enamel is that I have unlimited access to color. I can blend color and combine my “stones” with other natural stones. I’ll start with the outer shape and then drop in and play with my cloisonné wire to determine my pattern. I’ll add clear enamel to the front and counter enamel on the back and I have my canvas. I’ll do 2 to 3 firings with the wire shapes to ensure perfect contact with the back plate so that my colors don’t bleed. I paint in my enamel with water and once I start doing that I can start to see the colors come to life. I do things somewhat unconventionally as I tend to fire all at one time except when I’m using reds, which I always do at the end of the firing process. I like putting opaque enamel next to transparent. I normally spend one full day on enameling per piece. I may fire a piece anywhere from 15 to 30 times.
What will you work on next?
I’m still interested in investigating my love of enamel. I’d like to incorporate gold into some pieces. I’m also interested in having some larger pieces where I have more than one enameled piece in it. I’m simply enjoying doing what I’m doing – and not trying to please anyone but my self.