Artist Profile – Donna Lewis, Scottsdale AZ
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Love blackened silver and gold together

So I was watching one of those award shows and flashed back to those chandelier earrings I made in high school (with a lapidary upgrade to be sure).  I was inspired. 

Had to recreate some of the wonderful dangly, jingly, yummy ear art I proudly wore, gifted and sold. Searched everywhere for findings, supplies, anything and found little available locally. 

 I was referred to a teaching studio where I could learn how to make these myself.  What a perfect thing.  Immediately signed up for a beginning goldsmithing class.  That was really cool.  I began a series of classes and workshops to learn traditional fabrication techniques.  Heaven on earth!

 Summer 2004; a couple of the instructors returned from Albuquerque with pieces they made at a PMC conference.  They tried to interest me, but I was happy with the traditional things I was learning.  After about a month I finally took a class and what a soupy mess I made!  Yikes!  This was a serious challenge and that did it.   I couldn’t stop.  That little lump was never going to get the better of me.

I went at it full tilt and absolutely fell madly in love with the medium. 

 Arizona does present its challenges.  Arid, hot and air-conditioned all the time; metal clay dries quickly.  The gals had returned with the fabulous Fred Woell’s concept yogurt cup with the paperclip slash dampened paper towel humidifier and it worked great.  Problem… I kept knocking it over.  But then not everyone flails quite like me.

 From my gardening days I remembered the moisture retention properties of the red clay pots and decided to try one in place of that flying yogurt cup.  Not enough.  I tried stuffing wet paper towels into the pot, but that still wasn’t enough.  Not only do red clay pots retain moisture, they also allow it to evaporate quickly.  I needed to find the right material that would keep the moisture inside around the clay.  I tried a piece of sponge and it worked for a short time, but it too dried out quickly.  I tried humidor foam, florist’s foam, pellets, many different sponges and ultimately found a combination that would hold moisture for more than four hours outside on an Arizona patio in September without a lot of mess or fuss.  YAY! LiL BeLLA was born! 

Originally they weren’t glazed (as shown in CeCe Wire’s book) but I decided to add a partial glaze to form a better barrier from evaporation.  These little darlin’s are all over the world (along with some copycats) happily sitting on metal clay workbenches, protecting those precious lumps underneath.  By the way; the copy cats really don’t do quite the same job as LiL BeLLA.  I’m very proud of that.  It took a bit of time and effort to put her together.  Yes, her…  I like the concept of just simply lifting her up to grab a little more clay or dip your brush into a slip jar and plunking her back down again.  Perfect.

 I was Rio certified by the amazing CeCe Wire, took the Art Clay Level I cert crossover with the ever bubbly Lorrene Davis and got my base metal introduction from Celie Fago and Hadar Jacobson.  I’m one lucky gal (and a bit of a strategist)  I have been fortunate  to study with the original Rio PMC Seniors, some more than once, several Art Clay masters and so many other talented metal clay artists and process inventors who have afforded me such a valuable tool kit for both my artwork and my teaching. 

 I am most definitely the greatest fan of silver clay, both fine and sterling.  I still like that frosty white aspect the fine silver brings fresh out of the kiln.  Beautiful for bridal jewelry.  In contrast, my favorite is heavily textured blackened silver with splashes of gold.  That is just so sexy to me.

 Wow!  I sure can blab… 

LiL BeLLA metalclay humidifier

About Donna Lewis

I'm still fascinated by the process that metal clay goes through from its initial form to finished work. A variety of techniques: both unique to metal clay, and standard in traditional goldsmithing; are combined to create some of the most individual signatures in art jewelry today. Absolutely thrilled to see what comes next!


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