2015 2nd Place - Metal Clay
Holly Gage's relationship with creating art is unique, personal, and deep. For her, it is a means to convey a language, a feeling, or an idea. Holly feels more comfortable working in an artistic medium than she does with the English language because of strong visual-spatial abilities.
Her work has been featured in more than 50 publications and she has authored multiple articles on the art of metal clay. She also offers a plethora of ways to teach and share the talent she has developed since her childhood, including workshops and mentoring programs. We were given the opportunity to delve deeper into her artistic experience following the 2015 Saul Bell Design Awards, where she won Second Place in the Metal Clay category for the "Je T'aime–Dual Flame" necklace.
WE LOVE HOW YOU WRITE ON YOUR WEBSITE THAT "THE NEED TO CREATE IS ESSENTIAL." HOW LONG HAVE YOU FELT THIS WAY?
Probably since I was a kid. Creating art and objects has always been the way I communicate to the world. From the after-school clubs to jobs and jewelry apprenticeships, I have always taken on activities where my hands did the talking. As a dyslexic it has been my most accurate and gratifying form of communication.
My best self is the one who is creating for self-expression, for others, teaching others how to use their creative voice to communicate. This form of interaction and connection with materials and people is an important way of sharing. It is personal and meaningful for me, and hopefully the other person.
YOUR WORDS AND WORKS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN NUMEROUS BOOKS AND ARTICLES. HOW IMPORTANT TO YOU IS TEACHING AND SHARING YOUR METAL CLAY KNOWLEDGE?
Transferring knowledge has tremendous meaning for me because, as I teach and transfer a new vocabulary of techniques and design skills, the students often reveal something new about themselves that, together, we are discovering for the first time. People gravitate toward my classes not only to learn new techniques, but also to learn a new way to express themselves. Being the facilitator of that process is fun and exciting, especially when you bare witness to the "ah-ha!" moments.
YOUR "EMPOWERMENT" COLLECTION IS SO DIFFERENT FROM THE JE T'AIME – DUAL FLAME NECKLACE. WHERE DO YOU FIND SUCH DIVERSE INSPIRATION TO CREATE VARYING STYLES?
As I explain to my students, different lines of jewelry represent the different facets of your personality. I can be serious, funny, romantic, silly, political, etc. Each line of jewelry represents those different aspects of my personality. Je t'aime represents romance and love; it fits in a line of jewelry using dance as a metaphor for the love and vulnerability in a relationship.
The Empowered Goddess collection, on the other hand, has beautifully sculptural and colorful pieces of titanium in them. The titanium, named after the Greek gods for its mighty strength, usually inspires the goddesses' story.
I'll sketch around the piece of titanium, trying to bring her story and her personality to life. By studying and understanding what body gestures suggest, I pose the titanium in a setting to help the viewer see what I see—a powerful woman, a sea goddess, or a Greek goddess. By creating a setting and environment, the story is completed. Most of my goddess pieces possess powers I wish I had. By wearing the necklace, a woman can feel empowered to take on those traits and be invincible.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL TECHNIQUES IN METAL CLAY THAT YOU USED IN YOUR WINNING PIECE?
Repoussé Effects in Metal Clay is a technique I developed in 2005. I named it as such because it loosely echoes the process and look one would achieve in traditional repoussé and chasing work.
Obviously, a moldable metal will not act the same as sheet metal. Instead of pitch, I wet work a reverse mold in polymer clay. Instead of hammering sheet metal supported by the pitch, I tamp the moldable metal with a tamping tool into the mold.
To create the details in the sheet metal, it is flipped over and worked on the front side with chasing tools. I too flip the piece over and develop the details with various tools. The two are quite different, yet I feel a synergy in the processes.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT IN METAL CLAY?
Take a class from a person with passion, someone who is patient and loves getting people hooked on Metal Clay, someone with infectious enthusiasm, someone who will have you addicted like it is a drug.
Research and find an instructor who knows what they are doing and teaches in a style that matches your goals. A good teacher with a good reputation can teach you good, sound practices to expedite the learning curve and take you on the fast track to success.