Peggy Foy is not only a talented metalsmith and instructor but a super nice person too! We are happy to have Peggy teaching with us at Danaca Design.
Next month she will be teaching Mechanisms: Hinges and Clasps. The class meets four Wednesday evenings in June (6/3, 6/10, 6/17, 6/24) and will present a variety of ways to make hinges and clasps, including traditional hinges with knuckles, locket latches, and closures for necklaces and bracelets.
How long have you been making jewelry?
Hard to believe I’ve been at this for almost 15 years!
What is your background? Is it in art, or something else?
I studied metalsmithing in college, at the University of Georgia. Aside from metals, I also usually have a day job in graphic design or project management – currently I’m doing a little of both as a project manager for a sign company.
What are your favorite materials to work with and why?
I have to pick a favorite? I really like working in metal – all metals, whether that’s silver or copper or steel or gold. I’m not much of a fibers person, and I don’t do much with clay either so I don’t use PMC. I’m trying to get better with wax carving for casting, but it’s not my strong suit. I like texturing and fabricating with sheet and wire, and forging. I mostly work in silver, but I can’t seem to stay away from the other metals too.
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?
I took a class with Linda Darty several years ago – that totally changed my approach to teaching. She’s wonderful to work with, super encouraging and supportive but gentle in urging students along – which I think is really necessary in a limited class-time situation.
What king of imagery or inspiration do you use? Or, are there any recurring themes in your work?
Art nouveau is a big influence, the graceful swirling lines and the sweeping shapes. Thematically, I am interested in science fiction and fantasy; so a lot of my work reflects the idea that it maybe came from another time or another world. I often make pieces that look like they “do” something, mechanical devices or talismans that could activate by the right magic words.
What got you into teaching jewelry/metals?
Teaching happened gradually for me – honestly I was a bit intimidated by it at first. Just out of school I was keenly aware of how much I still had to learn; I knew there would be a lot of questions that I wouldn’t be able to answer for students. But I was a studio monitor at Pratt Fine Art Center for a while, basically like being a TA, and I found that I did know how to answer questions for students. And I found that I really loved working with students and sharing that knowledge, helping them succeed. I’ve been teaching for about four years now and I absolutely love it.
Aside from the skills outlined in your class, what do you hope to bring to your students?
All of my classes help students improve their soldering; I think that’s one of the biggest skills that just takes practice, but a little coaching goes a long way. We also talk about a lot of the technical stuff too, the how’s and why’s of what the metal is doing. But most importantly I want my students to feel inspired and excited about the processes we’re learning. It’s supposed to be fun!
Do you have a personal website related to your work or your teaching?
Yes, my website is www.peggyfoy.com. You can also find me on Instagram, @peggyfoyjewelry, and on Facebook, @Peggy Foy’s Jewelry. Instagram is probably the best way to keep up with what I’m doing in the studio!
Thanks Peggy! Your work is lovely and we can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
If you would like to register for Peggy’s Class call us at 206-524-0916 or stop by our location 5619 University Way NE in Seattle.
More information about Peggy’s class and all our other classes can be found at www.danacadesign.com
I first started making jewelry my freshman year of college.
In what kind of environment do you work best?
I like a studio with lots of windows, and a garden setting. Light is important and also the sense of letting the outside in.
What are your favorite materials to work with, and why?
I love sterling silver. When I am chasing or forming sterling sheet it is ductile and responsive yet resists just enough to allow for specific detail and crisp edges. It can look soft, organic, industrial and architectural. I also like to work in copper for its softness and warm color.
Have you had any teachers who have shaped you as an artist?
The teacher who had the biggest impact on my work and my career as an artist is Eleanor Moty, my major professor in graduate school. She introduced me to chasing (detailing the surface of metal with shaped steel tools) and repoussé (punching up the back side of sheet metal to create form on the front), the techniques that have become my passion and the basis to my teaching career. Eleanor is a consummate jewelry artist and perfectionist. She has also become a friend and mentor. Working with Eleanor Moty changed my life’s trajectory in so many ways. Without her support I would not have had the confidence to write my technical and gallery book, “Chasing and Repoussé: Methods Ancient and Modern”, which has lead to the wonderful experience of teaching around the world.
Are there any other art forms close to your heart?
I love ceramics and collect as much as possible, from plates to sculpture. I have worked in clay a few times and although it is not my main technique or material, I find it very engrossing. I also collect copper vessels from Santa Clara, Mexico. These are beautifully raised and chased pieces made by families who have been working with these techniques for several generations.
Of the many gallery shows and exhibitions you have been in or worked on, which was the most engaging for you?
Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery exhibition entitled “Louder than Words.” The jewelry artists were asked to respond to the phrase “Jewelry speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often” and the concept that artists create contrasts and communions between the visual language of jewelry art and the literary language of the printed page. Story telling has been a significant part of my life, both verbally and in the writing I have done related to the artwork I produce. This theme brought up several stories from my past, two of which are represented in the attached images. I used to live in Florida and experienced a minor but still unnerving hurricane. The winds and the darkness were frightening of course, but the eye of the storm is what I remember most – the glowing sun and the sense that I was in a tunnel of light and quiet. The name of this piece is “Silence is Golden”. The second piece, “Heart on Fire” is based on imagination rather than experience. The fire and hot lava at the center of a volcano has always fascinated me. I love the theme shows at Facèré as they spark many new ideas and often cause me to expand my technical experience.
What recent piece are you most proud of?
I have been adding color to my work through colored pencils. For the 3×2 show I collaborated with Larry Scott, glass bead maker, on a piece we called “Late Harvest” – a brooch with a branch theme that I chased and formed, colored with pencil and then added Larry’s beads. We enjoyed working together and the end result pleases us both.
Love her work as much as we do? Take her Chasing and Repoussé Class! Coming up February 6th-8th Megan Corwin’s three day workshop will be the one not to miss. See website for more details:
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
Every quarter we offer a mix of beginning and more specialized intermediate and advanced classes with both local and visiting instructors. Next month we’re excited to have visiting instructor Jeff Georgantes in the studio teaching Fire, Forge and Flush-Stone Setting. While this class is more specialized and won’t cover the same material as our beginning classes, it’s still open to all skill levels. We have room for just a couple more ambitious students in this class.
Fire, Forge and Flush-Stone Setting
Instructor: Jeff Georgantes
December 13 and 14
Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00
This class will lead you on a journey filled with twists and turns to explore a variety of core metalsmithing skills that culminate with a finished silver ring. First, using either your own or purchased recycled sterling silver you will cast an ingot. Then with the help of the rolling mill along with hammers and an anvil, you will forge out a silver ring. Next, you’ll practice flush setting faceted stones, getting ready for the real deal, setting stones into your hand-wrought silver ring. The class will be filled with tips and tricks for ingot making, forging and flush setting, including making your own setting tools. Open to all skill levels!
A little about Jeff, from his website:
JEFF GEORGANTES has a MFA in Jewelry/Metals from CSU, Fullerton and a BA in Art and a MA in Sculpture, both from CSU, Humboldt. He taught Art at College of the Redwoods, Eureka, CA, for fifteen years and has taught numerous visiting artist workshops across the USA. He helped develop and coordinate the Jewelry/Metals program at the Mendocino Art Center from the early 1990s until 2005 when he started his position as head of the Jewelry/Metals program at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. His work can be seen in Alan Revere’s book, The Art of Jewelry.
Sophie asked him a few questions recently, and I really enjoyed reading through is responses! The questions and his answers are below.
What’s your background? Is it in art, or something else?
I’m one of those oddballs that figured out their life’s path as a teenager. I went to a high school that offered Jewelry as part of its shop program. At 16 years old, I became obsessed with making jewelry and working with metal. It has remained my life’s passion ever since. One of the things that I’m most proud of is that since graduating from college in 1979, I’ve only been employed as an artist or in something art-related. There’s been a lot of struggle and sacrifice, with many twists and turns, but somehow I’ve been able to pull it off.
Your narrative work is very unique, when did you start making artwork this way and how did you discover it?
I went to college in California in the 70’s. West Coast Funk Art was big then had a strong effect on craft related arts across America. West Coast Funk was a movement of painters, sculptors and craft artists and was a reaction against abstract expressionism. Narrative format played a strong role in Funk. Painters William Wiley, Wayne Thiebaud, ceramic artist Robert Arneson, and jewelry artists like Ken Cory, Jim Cotter, and David Laplantz were strong early influences of mine. I also took a lot of film history classes in college. In my very early work, I imagined I was making movies with jewelry. That’s how my narrative work started.
What are your favorite materials to work with, and why?
I like working with the full range of jewelry material options. On a practical level, I don’t work with gold or diamonds in my own work too often, because they are so expensive and don’t leave a lot of room for experimentation. But… I’m very lucky to have worked a fair amount in jewelry stores over the years and have gotten to a chance to work extensively with precious metals and stones. That’s a real treat! The only way to really learn how to be a diamond setter is to set a lot of diamonds and how does an average person accomplish that? The easiest way is get a job as a bench jeweler in a jewelry store, which is what I did for a long time.
In my own work, currently I use silver, gold accents, rough hand-cut stones, found objects and calibrated cabochons. I like being able to combine lots of different materials in unexpected ways.
I find that jewelers tend to have one part of the process they love best, for some it’s sawing, for others it’s soldering. Do you have a favorite part of the jewelry process?
I don’t really have one process that I like above all others. My obsessions go in phases. Sometimes it’s soldering, sometimes it’s casting, sometimes it’s stone setting. When I was in high school I was obsessed with grinding and polishing my own cabochons. I got a job as a dishwasher and saved every paycheck until I could buy a ’63 Volkswagen convertible and a lapidary grinder/polisher/rock saw. The Volkswagen didn’t stay long, but the lapidary grinder has been with me ever since. Two summers ago, I unearthed that ancient lapidary set up and replaced all of the wheels with modern diamond wheels and brought it back to life. Now I’m obsessed with grinding found rocks. Almost every piece in my current solo exhibition has found rocks that I’ve ground on that old high school tool.
Recently I bought a PUK pulse arc welder. I’m definitely obsessed with that. With pulse arc technology I’m pretty much able to throw away all clamps, literally hold the parts together, tack them and solder after that. It’s not an understatement to say, this is life transforming!!
What kind of imagery or inspiration do you use? Or, can you tell us about any recurring themes in your work?
Every morning that I can, whether it’s in the forest, at the beach or on a city street, I try to start my day with a walk or a run. I seem to get my best thinking done on those morning journeys. I think about everything and I think about nothing. Love, politics, what I have to do that day, how pretty the river, a tree or a flower is, new ideas for sculpture and how cool that thing on the ground would look in a piece of jewelry. I spend a lot of time looking at the ground. Part of that is so I don’t fall on my face, which sadly I do every once in while. On another level though, it’s because there is so much amazing and wonderful stuff down there that I can’t stop from picking it up. Sometimes my running short’s tiny pockets get so filled that I have to carry things as well. Not a very practical idea when running, but it’s an obsession.
I like to juxtapose those found objects, which have inherent, yet overlooked beauty and contrast them with conventionally thought of precious materials such as calibrated gemstones, gold and silver. In my time working as a custom goldsmith and stone setter, I learned that almost all forms of stone setting mechanically entrap the gem. At some point, I realized that I could utilize many of those traditional techniques to hold other types and shapes of objects. I am endlessly intrigued with coming up with imaginative ways to entrap found objects. Besides traditional stone setting techniques, I love using miniature nuts & bolts, taps & dies and whatever else I can figure out as well.
You have made everything from engagement rings to saddles, what kind of work is the most inspiring to you?
You know…. I just like making stuff out of metal. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a diamond ring or a 13’ steel sculpture. The ability to work and learn new things is what inspires me the most. When I first started in college I wanted to become the best metalsmith that had ever been. It took me about two weeks to realize that was impossible and not a very smart goal, but what replaced it was to learn as much about metal as I could. Over the past 40+ years, I’ve tried to learn or at least be aware of as much of my ginormous field as I can.
All of these phases bring rewards. Stone setting is introspective and disciplined. I love that. Making the silverwork for Skyhorse Saddles custom saddles, led me to learning how to ride a horse and owning an Arabian mare and doing endurance rides. What a gift!! Steel and bronze sculpture taught me how weld and how to cast things bigger than a grape. That’s influenced my work both big and small. It’s all inspiring.
Of all the places you have taught, which has shaped you most as an instructor?
I fell into a job teaching jewelry at a small Northern California Community College, named College of the Redwoods. The previous instructor had a family emergency and had to cancel right before classes began. At the last second, I unexpectedly got the job. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had a gift at teaching and over time it became a co-career. Teaching at a rural community college, I had a very diverse mixture of students. I learned that everyone has a story and that many have to power through tremendous adversity to move their lives forward. I worked with homeless students who lived in the forest surrounding campus or the school parking lot. Others were recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Occasionally, there were students who were convicted of a crime and were given a choice of jail or college. There was an endless stream of reentry students, who for infinite number of reasons wanted to go back to school, to try and make their dreams come true. Many were fresh high school graduates who didn’t really didn’t want to be there, but somehow stuck with it and found their place. The age range was 16-80. It was an honor and a privilege to meet and share time with every one of them. What I learned at College of the Redwoods is that everyone who takes classes whether towards a degree or just a weekend workshop is there to transform their life in some way. My job as a teacher is to help them accomplish their goals in whatever way that is appropriate and possible.
That philosophy helped get me my current position as head of the Jewelry/Metals program at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Many people don’t realize that the big colleges like Dartmouth are “need blind,” meaning that ability to pay has nothing to do with being accepted. Everyone has to be smart, but not everyone has to be rich. Over 60% of Dartmouth undergraduates are there on full scholarship. That means mixed up with students from some of the wealthiest families in America, are kids from the inner city, rural Native American reservations and Third World villages. What I love the most is that unless someone tells you, you don’t know where anyone is from. What binds them all is that they may be smart, but they’re not necessarily wise. They’re still kids. It’s up to me and a zillion others, to help mentor them to become the future leaders of the world. It’s so much fun and it is fulfilling beyond anything that I could ever imagine. Having a philosophy rooted in accomplishable idealism is a job requirement for a career in education.
Thank you Jeff!
If you’d like to grab one of the last two spots in Jeff’s Fire, Forge and Flush-Stone Setting give us a call at 206-524-0916. We’re here Tues-Fri 11-6 and Sat 10-6.