2015 3rd Place - Emerging Jewelry Artist
As one of the young individuals honored in the 2015 Saul Bell Design Award competition, Ella Calas represents the burgeoning youth that is the future of jewelry design. She placed third in the Emerging Artists category (which is reserved for jewelers 21 years of age and younger) for her piece, "Windows."
Ella studies art at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, where she expands upon her already impressive skills as a jeweler. We asked her a few questions about her development as an artist.
WHEN DID ART FIRST COME INTO YOUR LIFE?
I can remember art always being a part of my life, but I remember specifically when I started middle school wanting to be a designer. I loved to draw so I did a lot of that. I took some classes in school and a couple of extra classes that kind of lead me in the direction I wanted to go.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR EDUCATION AS AN ARTIST.
In high school, I was fortunate enough to have an intro jewelry class offered, which is where I got started working three dimensionally. Now, I am going to be a senior at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunities so far with my education. I have learned so much from my professors there.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TECHNIQUE/PROCESS?
Last semester I took a casting class; I am really interested in the combination of cast and fabricated pieces. I love that when modeling wax for casting it can be additive or subtractive depending on the way you want to handle it. You can go about the process in a more sculptural way. I am looking forward to doing more of it this semester.
DESCRIBE YOUR BENCH.
My bench is generally unorganized. Once I get working I tend to lay out all of the tools I'm using, so it starts to get messy! I keep all of my files and small hand tools in holders on my desk. I have a torch and a small soldering station set up, and an old drill that was given to me.
HAS THERE BEEN A SINGLE PERSON IN YOUR LIFE THAT HAS INFLUENCED YOUR WORK IN AN IRREVERSIBLE/UNCHANGEABLE WAY?
I'm not sure if I can say a single person has, but many of my teachers have. My three metalsmithing professors at CCS have taught me so much, and my teacher in high school really allowed us to have freedom to just experiment with metal and jewelry making. If I hadn't had such a positive experience, then I'm not sure I would have continued on to study it in college. My professors at CCS have taught me to really focus on form, technique, craftsmanship and design. They have influenced me in numerous ways.
WHAT DEFINES GREAT DESIGN TO YOU?
To me, great design can often be something that's simple or subtle. There is a focus on form and it's well thought out and functional. Maybe it illustrates a new take on something that has been done or referenced many times before.
IN YOUR OPINION, DOES YOUR AGE INFLUENCE HOW OTHERS PERCEIVE YOUR WORK?
I can see where my level of experience could influence how others perceive my work. I know that I have a lot to work on, but I feel that it's my passion. I can only hope to keep improving and learning.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Lately, I've been trying to work on some designs and renderings of earrings I want to make in the fall. I'd like to build my portfolio a little bit over the summer. Also, I'm working on a couple of small pendants and rings that were commissioned pieces.
WHAT DOES WINNING THE SAUL BELL DESIGN AWARD MEAN TO YOU?
For me, placing in the Saul Bell Design award makes me feel confident that I am going in the right direction. I feel so grateful to be part of this opportunity! It's really exciting for me and it was a great chance to get my work out there.