|Helga's studio in Holland|
CS - How long have you been working with metal clay?HvL - In November 2005 I bought my first package of silver clay out of curiosity. I fired the first batch with my torch and thought it was magic. Then I turned to the internet to find more information about the product and found out there were two brands. PMC [Precious Metal Clay] was the one I was most attracted to because there was a wealth of technical information on the guild's website, which I was looking for at that moment. I had a desire to know everything about it, and that desire still fuels my passion for metal clay.
CS - What skills, interests, or achievements did you bring to your designs from previous, unrelated work?
HvL - My graphic design work gives me my uncluttered style I guess. Then, garden work gives me motivation & metaphors. The beauty I find in the small details of plants are an eternal influence. I connect them to my personal development processes. Metal clay gives me clues in understanding myself. Perhaps a bit weird to say, but that’s the way it works for me. I am constantly trying to find out what the clay wants to say to me. My latest work, the Cambia series, is about how sap streams up and down in a stem. It's a transport system that carries essential minerals to the leaves & roots.
CS - How did you discover and/or develop your signature style or technique?
HvL - I consider the Earth series my signature style, the inspiration came from farmers ploughing the fields. It also started as I was thinking about a Masters registry project (E3 - Metal Clay Paper). Then a workshop with Ruudt Peters called, 'Now Breath', where I worked with earth from my garden. This workshop was non-jewelry related and liberating. The Earth series is still a work in progress.
CS - How has your work or skill set evolved since you began working with metal clay?
HvL - I work more intuitively and freely with metal clay. Sheet and wire can be very strict. With clay I play more. That is good.
In 2013 Helga entered a time of creative reflection and artistic discovery through a self-directed, week-long, artist retreat at home. In addition to making her discoveries the focus of her blog, Helga hosted live video chats with other artists around the world, which I was honored to be a part of. (Look for "Next read" at the bottom of each day's post for a link to the following 10 posts.)
CS - Can you tell us a little about your Summer Art Retreat at Home (S.A.R.A.H.)?
HvL - The retreat came out of the frustration that 1. I couldn’t go to Haystack [to take a workshop], 2. I had a free schedule and committed to the time to do it, and 3. my desire to develop myself. It was a lesson in determination, and a journey to learn to trust in what I can do myself. It taught me tons, as you can read on my blog.
CS - Do you teach?
HvL - During the 3rd through 6th years of working with metal clay, I taught some classes. But here in my area there is not very much demand for metal clay classes. I live in a small village and don’t want to travel too much.
"This ring is a result of the first S.A.R.A.H. It was
made after many tests I made with porcelain clay
(my favorite testing material). The gold emphasizes
how important it is to keep on Flowing."
My take on teaching is giving a presentation like I did at the PMC conference in 2012 or the Polymer conference in Malta in 2014. Like that, I can reach a bigger crowd. Also, writing for Art Jewelry Magazine gives me satisfaction in the same way teaching might. Then there is the work on my website. Blogging is a way to communicate, so I can reach & teach online while I continue to work on my style in my studio.
CS - Do you consider yourself primarily a teacher or a maker/seller?
HvL - Definitely a maker & seller.
CS - How would you feel about teaching others your signature techniques?
HvL - That is not something I am interested in, I would prefer to teach how to find your own style. Everybody has unique qualities and I am convinced it is a matter of knowing how to look. I would love to teach that. The presentations I've done were about this subject.
CS - How would you like your future with metal clay to evolve?
HvL - I'd like to keep on exploring different ways of working with the clay to find innovative techniques. It challenges me to grow on a personal level, it’s a process.
CS - Why did you choose metal clay as your primary jewelry making material? What qualities do you particularly appreciate?
HvL - Sometimes I have the feeling metal clay chose me. I can’t help but keep working with it. What I particularly like is that it’s still a new material with no set traditions, so I am free to explore.
CS - What would you like new users of metal clay to know?
HvL - That you are free to play.
Thanks for sharing your process with us Helga. I'm in love with the idea of a personal art retreat and am so impressed with the way you designed it and laid it all out. I hope many of our readers use it as a template for their own creative renaissance.
Posted by Lora Hart