We’ve got a couple classes coming up with Andy Cooperman, Creative Surface Development and It Ain’t Just a Drill: Getting the Most From Your Flexible Shaft.
After listening in on a little of his teaching while I was working, I was very interested in hearing his answers to our Featured Instructor questions.
I asked for photos of his favorite pieces, pieces that have a special significance to him, or pieces that reveal something he’d like to share with others, and he responded with the photos I’ve included here in this post.
Andy Cooperman is a metalsmith, writer, and teacher who lives in Seattle, WA. His work is featured in galleries nationwide, including Patina Gallery in Santa Fe, deNovo in Palo Alto and Velvet daVinci Gallery in San Fransisico. He is a past recipient of a WESTAF/NEA Fellowship, and teaches seminars and workshops around the country, most recently as a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington. In addition to one of a kind jewelry pieces, Andy also works with clients as a custom jeweler and commission metalsmith. His work can be found in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Central College, Pella Iowa and appeared most recently in the exhibitions The Art Of Gold, Metalisms, Chess and The Ring Show.
Publications include the books Art Jewelry Today, 1000 Rings, 500 Brooches, The Craft Of Silversmithing, The Penland Book of Jewelry and Fundamentals of Metalsmithing.
Read on to learn more about Andy.
What got you into teaching jewelry/metals?
My mother and grandmother were teachers and I think that is in my blood as well. There’s something about the communication involved in explaining something that I just love. Seeing the light bulb go off for someone is exciting and fulfilling. Teaching metals also keeps me excited about the field. It’s contagious.
What are your favorite materials to work with and why?
Not sure that I really have any. A whole lot of materials appeal to me. In metal, I like bronze, silver, gold and steel. Not brass. I’ve worked a lot with shibuichi (68%cu and 32% fine silver) which I alloy in my studio. It torch textures into a surface that evokes lizard skin. I remember that when I took my first class I was really charged when I was shown that metal could be made to look non-metalic and even vital and alive.
Pingpong balls are like that. They are an enigmatic material in that, once shaped or formed, their original nature is lost. I love that. I like materials that I can carve too.
In metal, nothing makes me as happy as forging.
Can you tell us about any memorable teachers from your past who have influenced what you’re doing today, as an instructor or as an artist?
Hmmmm…. My original jewelry and metals instructor in college was certainly my hero.
Don Johnson was his name. Lives in Montana. I loved what he made but also his attitude to making. ”Just do it. Just try it. See what happens.” I carry that with me today.
But I also respect so many teachers that I have encountered. I taught alongside Maria Phillips at the UW and learned a lot about teaching from that experience.
Any important insights about life you’ve learned from your students, or from teaching?
Oh yeah. Looking at things from multiple angles and perspectives. Patience. It’s so good to see how eager students are to learn and, as I’ve said, their excitement gets me going as well.
Aside from the skills outlined in your class, what do you hope to bring to your students?
This is the best question. I don’t really care if a student makes anything in class. I also don’t really care if they master the material offered in class. What my real hope is, what I most want a student to walk out the door with is a change in perspective. A little tilt in how they look at the studio, the tools and materials. A change in how they approach their work and studio practice. This includes making a real commitment to craft; to making things well. It can come through many doors and no matter what I teach, I hope for that. Because that’s the best thing that an instructor can offer. Teaching someone to fish rather than giving them a fish.
So many people seem to be terrified of doing something that is not approved of, that is somehow in conflict with what another instructor or colleague has told them or what they’ve read in a book. People can be timid because of this. Some of it is fear of the flame or of screwing up. Some are overly cautious because of the cost of the materials we use, which is certainly a fair concern.
But I think that many people have this vague fear that if they do something out of order or skip a step, if they try a shortcut somewhere the SJP (Secret Jewelry Police) will rappel down from the hovering black ops jewelry helicopter and take them away…
I tell students in most classes that I try to keep a balance between two poles:
“What’s the worst that could happen” and “Do No harm”.
I look at every situation with that dichotomy in mind. If I’m setting a big stone for a client then I will be cautious and cleave to the “Do No Harm” side of the equation.
But if I am thinking of trying something new, I am definitely going to take a lot of chances. Because risk and play in the studio is maybe the most important thing in growing as a maker or artist. After all: What’s the worst that could happen?
Do you have a personal website related to your work or your teaching?
Of course: andycooperman.com
There’s a lot of stuff there. Including writing.
Thank you for sharing with us, Andy!
For more information on Andy’s classes please see the schedule (under the Classes section) on our website: http://www.danacadesign.com/
To register for either of Andy’s classes give us a call at 20-524-0916, we’re here Tuesday-Friday 11-6 and Saturday 10-6.