Liz Sabol


L. Sabol image.jpg

Liz Sabol's elegant and beautifully crafted Dreamweaver Collection is full of wonderful and innovative surprises, from the materials she uses to her techniques to the processes she incorporates when creating well-finished pieces in a cohesive collection. Each piece, and the collection as a whole, is a joy.

About the winning Collection:

What materials did you use in the winning piece?
I made the prototypes with metal clay (Metal Adventures FastFire Bronz and PMC Flex 960). I lined the cuff with silver so it won’t turn your wrist green. The color is oil paint, and then I apply a layer of resin on top. The stones are Prehnite. After the prototypes were done, I sat down and figured out how to use a 3D program. It was a steep learning curve, but I made models for some of the pieces so they could be cast. The pendant and the two pairs of earrings were cast in bronze, but the cuff is the actual metal clay prototype. Currently I am producing the line in small-batch production.

What inspired the piece?
A mystical tapestry. A network of interweaving paths waiting to be explored – look closer and find a different vignette between them at every turn – and a lattice pattern with Moorish undertones revealed when you zoom out. Under the gemstones on the cuff and pendant is that same delicate lattice. When you put them up to the light and look from the back, it’s like a glimpse into a misty secret world you can visit only with your imagination.

How long did it take to make?
The design process took way longer than I thought it would. I found it challenging to take the elements of the original design and expand it into a larger pattern without losing its essence. I wanted to make a repeating pattern so there would be a larger range of application possibilities. Once the design was done, the metal clay prototypes probably took about three weeks altogether. Learning Rhino and figuring out how to make the 3D models took longer.

I think the next line will go much faster, now that I have worked out the process.

What did you learn from the collection?
I learned to work with casters and understand the limitations as well as the advantages of the casting process. At first I was unsure if casting would work for my pieces, but I ended up falling in love with the process because it brings the precision I always wanted for my designs! 

Does the collection reflect your current look/designs/brand?
It does. The collection is much bigger than the four pieces I submitted for the competition. There is also a more casual version of this particular collection in the works.

What do you like most about the collection?
I love how dramatic the simple color theme turned out. I chose the Prehnite gemstones because their soft green colors fit so perfectly with the color palette.

Did you try them on?
Yes! I had my daughter try the necklace on. I wore the cuff prototype for a couple of months to make sure it was comfortable.

About the Artist:

Where do you live?
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Did you study jewelry?
No. I started out in chemical engineering. I love math and science. I then switched over to art and transferred to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where I received a degree in Communication Arts and a minor in Illustration

Did you apprentice?
Not really. I started out teaching myself metal clay but didn’t have any other metalsmithing skills. After a few months, I took the Rio Grande PMC certification program taught by Christopher Darway. At the same time, I took a metalsmithing class with Pat Falbo at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Both of these instructors recognized my style and encouraged me to continue with the jewelry. I still go once a week to Pat Falbo’s private studio. There’s a wonderful small group that meets there, and we have such fun socializing while learning and making jewelry.

Do any of your other passions influence your work?
Oil painting and drawing influence my work, and when I am at the beach I make sand sculptures. Dragons are my favorite.

When are you most creative?
Usually when I am avoiding something that I don’t want to do – then I have so many ideas it would be a crime to ignore them!  I never stop thinking of new things I could make.

Do you have a jewelry design business?
Liz Sabol Jewelry Art.

What is your artist statement/design philosophy?
Experience jewelry that takes you on an enchanted journey. Using unconventional materials to bring metal and color together, I explore spontaneous new directions that bridge fine art with function – each piece tells a unique story.

How do you get the word out about your work?
Social media and local art festivals. Some private events. I am working on getting into wholesale to sell through galleries and stores. And I’m hoping to have my e-commerce website available this summer.

Describe your current jewelry collections?
Lots of color and intricate designs. I had been primarily making one-of-a-kinds, but now I am expanding my focus more on collections based around specific designs. 

What is your favorite material to work with?
Bronze – I especially love its warm golden color and silky texture. I probably like it better than silver. 

What is your differentiator from other designers?
I pride myself on my unique designs and the colors I use. I just love color!

It was a conscious decision not to create my work in vitreous enamel. There are many really talented people working in enamel already – I wanted to do something completely different. I have a strong background in painting, so I went with it!

What do you love about making jewelry?
I love seeing an idea come to life. To hold it. To wear it.

Are you influenced by trends?
I try not to be. But I always keep my mind open and see what is happening. As long as people like my work, that is all that matters. I make pieces I like and hope everyone else likes them as well.

What is the one thing you most love about your studio?
My studio is in my house, which allows me to be around my kids and animals. I am getting more organized. Instead of random workspaces all over the house, I now have several stations in the same room for the different parts of my production.

What is the one thing you would change about your studio?
I am still working towards creating that one dedicated dream studio space (including all the dream tools I wish I had!).

What is your favorite tool?
I am still big on my Wacom tablet. But Rhino is definitely moving up the list fast; it just might become my new favorite!

Do you listen to music when you work?
I have music on most of the time now that I’m working more in one space. I like everything. I have an oldies mix I really love that is all the music I remember my parents listening to when I was growing up.

One word of advice you received when starting to make jewelry/run a business?
I got tons of advice and followed a lot of it. Then I realized that while there were many great ideas, not all were right for me and some were distracting me from my strengths. 

What one word of advice would you give beginning designers?
I would tell them the same thing. You don’t need to follow every bit of advice – some is very valuable, but it’s important to listen to your own voice as well.

What work inspires you?
I especially love the work of Sam Alfano. It is mesmerizing. I also like leather carving art and most anything with scrollwork, organic forms, and spirals or fractals. Art Nouveau is a favorite, especially the work of René Lalique.

What jeweler would you most like to have dinner with or visit their studio?
Sam Alfano. Anna Mazon was one of the first metal clay artists I really admired. And I love the colorful enamel work of Amy Roper Lyons. I wouldn’t know which one to pick. I am awed by them all.

About the Saul Bell Design Award:

What did you feel when you found out you were a winner?
Unbelievable! I was on cloud nine when I heard.

What made you decide to enter the competition?
Actually, I had decided that I wasn’t going to enter at all this year. I wanted to focus my time designing a collection instead. But then I found out that they added a new category for Jewelry Collections! It was meant to be.

Have you entered before? When?
Yes. I was a 2016 finalist and won 2nd place last year.

What other design awards have you won?
I won silver in the A’ Design award last year.

Interview by Marlene Richey