The “Heavenly Bodies” gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featured a dazzling array of celebrities wearing outfits of various levels of audacity, usually leaning heavily on the Christian iconography that was the theme of the show. But another feature that was highly visible was that of multiple people wearing crowns and tiaras. Pieces on this trend have been written, from the New York Times to more specialized fashion blogs.
Meanwhile on the west coast, we started to explore this particular challenge about a year and a half ago. Danaca Design first proposed a tiara show in summer of 2017. The idea was met with equal parts enthusiasm, trepidation, and skepticism. Many artists loved the idea of the spectacle implied in such a show. Others saw crowns and tiaras as either frivolous or not relevant in today’s modern era. And still others (probably the most sensible ones of all) were intimidated by the engineering challenges, the scale, and the sheer weight of materials that they would have to coax together into a finished piece.
In late January of 2018 Dana Cassara called a meeting for the artists who had committed to contributing to the show, to talk about strategies and challenges in the design and construction process. Some final pieces were already present to try on and inspect as attendants pondered proper fit and balance of their own works. Others brought out components that were waiting to be mounted onto frames or to be formed into crowns. Metal flowers, brass filigree sprigs of grass, strands of pearls and stings of delicate wire loops filmed with iridescent paper were all admired and passed around.
With a few exceptions, most of these artists had never attempted a piece of this particular scale. It was interesting to hear how people were wrestling with the challenge of interpreting their personal skills, manufacturing preferences, and design aesthetics into these pieces.
As the submission deadline loomed, sketches were made and prototypes were rendered. Some pieces were caught in polishers, others were melted before they could be fixed onto frames. Fingernails were worn down to the nub, blood was shed, metallic spray paint was wielded, drill bits were broken inside tiara frames, and every possible fixative known to jeweler was used to rivet or solder or tie or glue or pray the pieces into being.
In the end, 24 artists took on that challenge, and created a broad array of headpieces that sparkled, shone, and sometimes moved and dangled, balancing precariously on the head, or digging into the wearer’s scalp or cradling it like a hat.
On the night of the opening show models strode back and forth through the studio to a cheering audience. A photo booth allowed attendants to try on various crowns, as the creators further discussed the challenges and influences they worked with while putting their pieces together, and determining how they were meant to balance on the wearer’s head. The show generated an inspiring energy that is only evoked when a daunting challenge is met an interpreted in so many ways that the possibilities continue to seem almost boundless. Short video clips can be viewed on our Danaca Design Facebook page.
In the wake of that energy, Danaca Design, its members and surrounding friends and artists have been looking to the next challenge—and are meeting it with a Feast of Brooches in honor of Mother’s Day. On Saturday, May 12, the studio is hosting a “brooch brunch,” show opening, and the wildly diverse contributions of its 29 artists will be featured in the studio gallery throughout the month of May.
Time flies when you’re having fun and my how it has flown. Friday, December 5th I’m astounded (and excited) to be celebrating our 11th year in this great old building on University Avenue. What an adventure it’s been!
I the rented the space in July 2003, ran my first class in October and finally opened the gallery in December with a grand opening event. I remember that evening clearly, everyone asking, “where’s your jewelry work?” I had almost nothing on the shelves in the gallery but I looked around and indicated with my hands held out that this, the studio, was my work for the year! Today I’m happy to announce I have a quite a few pieces in the gallery, as well as a lovely studio:-).
Some years ago it became tradition to host the Student-Teacher Exhibition during the month of December and to schedule the opening reception to coincide with our anniversary party. This is a wonderful event with friends and family of students, teachers and the studio crew. It is a night not to be missed if possible!
This year we have an incredible selection of fine jewelry made by students, many of whom are sharing and selling their work for the first time. And, although we are lucky enough to carry the work of quite a few of our teachers in the gallery on a regular basis, during this exhibition we have the opportunity to see some very special pieces. It is a great opportunity to support terrific teachers and superb students and pick up a one-of-a kind-piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love.
Our event Friday night is 6:00pm – 9:30pm. Hope you can make it! If not, make an effort to swing by the gallery during regular business hours to see the show and pick-up something truly exceptional. The gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 11-6 and Saturdays 10-6.
For more info about the studio go to www.danacadesign.com
Rings for Beginners is among the first set of classes I designed for Danaca Design Studio. It was an instant hit and it continues to be one of the most popular classes I offer. Every student fabricates two rings from sheet silver or wire but no two look alike. It is very satisfying to walk into the studio a complete beginner and walk out with a brand new ring. I’ve been teaching beginning students for nearly 15 years and still love it. Join me this weekend!
Instructor: Dana Cassara
February 15 and 16, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 – 5:00
Class Fee: $245 | Basic materials included
This Beginning Series class focuses on the basic construction of fabricated rings, with and without stones. Each student will construct a simple band ring as well as a ring with a bezel-set stone. In the process of designing and constructing these rings, students gain new soldering skills and become familiar with some of the three-dimensional possibilities of metal. Leaving with a couple of rings is a bonus. No experience necessary.
Changing up the surface can transform a piece of jewelry from average to remarkable. There are hundreds of ways to do this and in January we have three radically different techniques for you to try: embossing, enameling and inlay.
Print and Press, Saturday and Sunday, January 18 and 19, will use etched plates and other materials to emboss sheet metal with custom patterns, photo precision quality images, and organic designs. Additionally, students will learn how to use a hydraulic press to give the patterned flat metal form, without marring the surface. The combination of these two processes can open up elegant design options difficult to obtain any other way.
Liquid Enameling on Steel, Saturday and Sunday, January 25 and 26, will explore the option of enameling on this light weight and inexpensive alternative to more precious materials like copper and silver. Students will investigate both new and recycled metal and a variety of surfaces possibilities. Instructor Melissa Cameron will inspire you to turn and old piece of steel into something really cool.
Metal into Metal Inlay techniques have been practiced both in Europe and the Far East for centuries. Metal inlay allows the artist to securely apply contrasting colors of metal without heating the work which means you don’t need a torch and your final piece will still be hard when finished. Bill Dawson picked up a few tricks recently from some talented artists visiting from Japan. Now is the chance to glean from his unique experience! Three days, January 31 and February 1 and 2.
For more information about these classes and more see the current class schedule, winter 2014, at www.danacadesign.com. Give
us a call in the studio to get registered: 206-524-0916.
The party has passed but the show continues through the end of the month.
We have a GREAT selection of handmade jewelry by local artists including students and teachers at Danaca Design. Come by the gallery and get inspired. Find the perfect holiday gift while supporting terrific teachers and stellar students!
Student & Teacher Holiday Show: November 29 – December 28, 2013
Featuring Jewelry by Students and Teachers at Danaca Design Studio
Gallery hour: Tuesday – Friday 11-6, Saturday 10-6 Details at www.danacadesign.com
On and off for over 20 years, She’s dabbled with metalsmithing/jewelry making, only to be pulled away by life, kids, work etc… Only recently, with the help of Danaca Design, has the creative urge and time been on her side. The result: Detritus.
Everything she makes has been found on the shores of Puget Sound (with her dog, GG), or are random things that find her. Sifting through the flotsam and jetsam of the high tide line gives her unspeakable pleasure, knowing she can turn what has been discarded and left for dead into something interesting, beautiful, and useful…
She likes to think that each piece reflects her and the PNW in general: pretty, with rough edges, fire scale, contrasts, tool marks and sparkle. That which has been lost is now found. Enjoy.
Allison is a regular exhibitor in the Danaca Design Gallery. We recently asked her a few questions about her work and process:
How long have you been making Jewelry?
I started metalsmithing in college, Miami University (OH) 1991, and have taken classes on and off since then. My first class in Seattle was Beginning Jewelry making with Andy Cooperman at Pratt. His passion and expertise most def inspired me. Since then, holloware and welding classes also at Pratt, Beginning and Intermediate Jewelry Making with Lynn Hull at NSCC, and lastly classes with Divine Dana at Danaca.
What’s your background? Is it in art or something else?
I graduated school with a degree in Elem. Education with a minor in Fine Arts after doing my student teaching in Luxumborg. I immediately moved to Seattle from Michigan and taught at Pacific Science Center for years as an Environmental Educator dovetailed with years at Discovery Park as a Naturalist/Director with the Nature Daycamp program.
Then, I became a mom, and when I found time, I took classes and worked on technique.
Is there anything in particular that you like about jewelry as a medium?
Jewelry is so fabulous because it is useful art. Its art you can hold and touch and wear…. It’s accessible, what’s better than that?
What are your favorite materials to work with, and why?
I love hot metal. I love creating something from “nothing”… Found objects are always good.
I find that jewelers tend to have one part of the process that they love best, for some it’s sawing, for others it’s soldering. Do you have a favorite part of the jewelry process?
I love the whole process. From finding an unbelievable limpet on the beach with my dog GG, that tells me what it should be made into by its size, shape, colors, strength, patterns. Then designing the piece in my head while I stare at it on my bench for days. To creating the piece step by step by step, the resining, the sawing, grinding, soldering, filing, sanding, swearing, being open to adapting my original idea and finally tumbling…..
Actually, the best part is when I can step back, peruse and marvel at the groovy thing I just made, and then realize that someone I don’t know likes it enough to actually pay money for it!
What kind of imagery or inspiration do you use? Or, what are the recurring themes in your work?
Right now, all my inspiration comes from the shores of Puget Sound. Nature has all the designs we could possibly need. For the first time ever, I have the creative urge and the time to do something with it. The result is my collection, Detritus, aka: crap you find on the beach…
No website, I like being local and “underground” for now.
Pieces are for sale at Danaca, and my 2nd house show is coming up!
Friday, November 8, 4-9pm
Feel free to contact me for info: email@example.com
Many years ago my mom got the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. At 49 she pulled up her roots in the Pacific Northwest, where she raised my sister and me, and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She left the year my younger sister graduated from high school. My mom was born and raised in Denmark but at a young age started wearing feathers in her thick blond braids. Some kids want to be astronauts or veterinarians. My mom wanted to be a pilot, a fashion designer and a Native American Indian! Instead she became a nurse and eventually worked at the Indian Hospital in Santa Fe. Next best thing I guess.
Over the 15 years she worked and lived there she had remarkable opportunities. She was invited to feasts and traditional ceremonies, weddings and birthday parties. She also met many artists some of whom were jewelers. As a result she has quite a collection of Southwest Native American jewelry. Recently, she decided the time has come to part with a few pieces. These lovely pieces are now on display and for sale in my studio gallery at Danaca Design. I admit I snatched a couple (I couldn’t help myself) but there are still over twenty to select from, some vintage, many Navajo, all one of a kind. I can’t believe how good they look in the cases. Come by see what we’ve got! www.danacadesign.com.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that ladies LOVE to hammer! Transforming sheet metal into three dimensional objects with a hammer is the foundation of many metal working techniques. This October we have three for you to explore.
Introduction to Hollowware, with instructor Barbara Knuth, is designed to expose students to the fundamental techniques used to make a vessel such as a bowl or teapot.
This class will run four Monday evenings beginning October 7. Incase you didn’t know, students enrolled in multiple week classes may attend Practice Hours at NO additional cost.
Have just a day to invest? Try, Fantastic Fold Forming! with instructor Bill Dawson, Sunday, October 20.
It is a quick and exciting way to create fabulously textured, 3-dimensional, organic forms that can be used in jewelry or whatever!
The image above is a great example of how instructor Megan Corwin can truly bring a sheet of metal to life with a hammer (and well, yes, few extra tools). Get started learning the basics of her favorite process in Chasing and Repoussé – Introduction, October 26 and 27.
Using a just a bit of heat and simple tools you can learn to transform it too!
For Details about all of these classes and instructors see our website at www.danacadesign.com.
Kiln-Fired Liquid Enamelling on Steel with Instructor Melissa Cameron
I have no doubt this class will be one of the best classes offered this summer. Instructor Melissa Cameron is both skilled and creative, she will open-up a world of possibilities to those interested in jewelry and enamel by offering students a fresh perspective and a new set of skills.
Weekend Workshop: September 28 and 29, Saturday and Sunday 10:30 – 5:00
Class Fee: $245 | Basic materials included
Learn the basics for successful use of liquid enamel on steel, from metal surface preparation to enamel application and firing. Find out the best steel to use as well as the options for recycling and salvaging pre-coated materials. Learn about the difference between liquid and jewelry enamels and try out different mark-making techniques, as well ways to achieve an array of different surface textures on finished pieces. Prerequisite: basic enameling.
See details at www.danacadesign.com
Give us a call in the studio to register: 206-524-0916
You’ve made some really neat pieces. You and other people like them. Maybe you’ve even done a few neighborhood shows. But you want to get your work out to more people, make a catalog or a website and apply for bigger shows. Maybe you even hope to get published in a book. None of this is possible without good images.
We’ve all seen examples of bad photography – The internet is full of out-of-focus shots of earrings, bracelets on busy backgrounds, necklaces so poorly lit that none of the detail is visible. On the other hand, professional photographers are expensive. While they are worth every penny, they are not a cost-effective way to capture a large body of work. So what can you do? As with so many parts of our craft, the answer lies in learning a new skill – learn to photograph your jewelry!
Danaca Design Studio is excited to offer Digital Photography for Jewelers this month. Learn to take quality images of your work using a few essential tools. Maintain an up-to-date portfolio to share with the world. Knowledge is power and photographs are vital. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of jewelers out there. Fortune may favor the brave, but it also favors the ready.
The ability to respond quickly to a call for entry or to an interested gallery owner means the difference between success and stagnation. It is invaluable to your jewelry career to have a set of images on hand at all times that represents your current body of work in the best way possible. This is a class you can’t afford to miss! Digital Photography for Jewelers with Maru Almeida, Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30. See www.danacadesign.com for details.