2015 1st Place - Metal Clay
Ivy Solomon is a three-time Saul Bell Design Award winner: 2004, 2006, and now 2015. Her winning metal clay creations have had a similar aesthetic stringing them together over the years, a deceptively simple, colorful, playful sentiment.
This style blossoms in her 2015 "Good Fortune" pin with deeper colors and stricter lines. This piece won first place in the Metal Clay category this year. Her development as an artist is compelling, and we wanted to know more.
HAVE YOU WORKED IN MEDIUMS OUTSIDE OF METAL CLAY BEFORE? WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE TO PERFECT THIS MEDIUM?
Yes. As a maker I have explored many mediums including but not limited to clay, wood, fabric, and food! Metal clay, however, has the unique ability of quickly capturing details, fine details, from surfaces like antique buttons and patterned silver-plate pieces, as well as textures found in nature (leaves, concrete, rocks, etc.).
This allows me to bring images, textures and graphics together from different sources to create a piece of jewelry. I recall that I would put together many clothing patterns to create an article of clothing that I didn't find in the ready-made world. I would also mix different patterned fabrics together. I really enjoy this sort of alchemy.
YOUR WORKS OFTEN INCORPORATE NATURE. TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW AND WHY NATURE INFLUENCES YOU.
Nature has long influenced many artists, and I incorporate many images produced by other artists. I am intrigued by the overlap of nature and geometry. The structure and divisions found, for instance, in flowers and leaves is mesmerizing to me. I look to nature for natural color palettes as well as balancing color placement.
WHAT IS YOUR CONCEPTUAL PROCESS FOR DESIGNING YOUR WORK?
I enter the design process through many different doors. I might start with an image and that becomes the focus. Many antique buttons call to my mind, a mandala, or a round cathedral window. I have also started with a structure/outline and then searched for images to enhance it or began a story for the wearer/viewer to continue. Starting with a color palette is another way I begin work. Images such a leaves fill a green area, roses fill a red area, blue fills an area that might be water or the sky.
THE "GOOD FORTUNE" PIN APPEARS TO BE INSPIRED BY JAPANESE TRADITION; IS THIS CORRECT?
Yes, the "Good Fortune" pin was inspired by the Japanese artistic motif that represents noshi. Noshi are long dried strips of abalone that are gathered in the middle. When they are attached to a gift, it is considered a token of good fortune. The Japanese artists would also interpret the strips as patterned kimono fabric.
HOW DID YOU COME ACROSS THE CONCEPT OF NOSHI?
One of the books I have is called Symbols of Japan Thematic Motifs in Art and Design, written by Merrily Baird. It is a lovely, informative book that I peruse from time to time. I had come across noshi a few years ago and only this past year figured out a way to interpret it in my work.
THE PIECES THAT YOU WON THE SAUL BELL DESIGN AWARD WITH IN 2004 AND 2006 ARE LIGHTER, QUAINT AND HOMEY, IF YOU WILL. WOULD YOU AGREE? WHAT DO YOU THINK SPARKED THE TRANSITION INTO THE INTRICATE DEPTH OF THIS YEAR'S 'GOOD FORTUNE' PIN?
Yes, I agree. I developed my technique in 2002. I experimented for about a year. The 2004 and 2006 pieces would be considered early pieces. I have been drawn to the fine details I see in antique items and sought out pieces that I could use in my work. My skill level has also increased, allowing me to present more precisely these intricate details and more colors in my pieces.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR AN INDIVIDUAL WHO WANTS TO PURSUE METAL CLAY?
Metal clay is a versatile material. Find the thing about it that you love. For me, it has been the fine details that it can capture. Experiment. Pose "what if" questions for yourself, and then answer them. Repeat until you find a path. Then, follow.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST FEAR?
In terms of my work, it would have to be that I have a wonderful idea and not have the ability to realize it.
HAS THE MEANING OF BEING A SAUL BELL DESIGN WINNER CHANGED AT ALL FOR YOU OVER THE YEARS, FROM '04 TO '06 TO NOW?
Not really. I have always considered winning the Saul Bell award as a tremendous honor. Being a Saul Bell winner has been a confidence builder, and the recognition for my work is uplifting. Winning this award has been and will always be a touchstone for me.