1st Place – Gold/Platinum
Pierre-Yves Paquette says that he admires “the German style of really slick lines,” and enjoys creating simple, fluid pieces using challenging technical processes. With his winning ring, Möebius Strip, pushes the limits of mokume gane to depict a mathematical form in continuous bands of color.
How did you come up with the title for this piece?
It is inspired by Möbius strips. That was the first one I have done pretty much in the same movement and shape as the Möbius. I started by researching surface colors and the Möbius shape itself. Both surfaces come back on each other into infinity. I wanted to represent this using my style and techniques.
What or who was your inspiration?
Mostly I work with simple shapes and the various uses of metals, which led me to mokume gane in the first place. I love the simplicity of German styles. Combining that style with different colors and simple shapes is my goal. It’s challenging. Placing the material at the forefront is important to me, so I use simple geometric shapes.
What obstacles did you have to overcome in making this piece?
Going slowly, to not unbond the metals, or deform or distort the surfaces. Keeping the fluidity of the piece, too. I made a few brass blanks before I made this one.
What did you feel when you heard?
I was very excited. I have won a few contests. I made this piece for the Sculptural Objects Functional Art Fair in Chicago. I had finished the piece and decided to send it off at the last minute to Rio Grande. I am beginning to understand and appreciate the magnitude of the award and how well Rio Grande treats the winners. I have been told by many people that “I will be very impressed.”
Have you won other awards?
Niche Award in 2012. The Russian Doll design contest for MJSA. I won the medal design contest for the Prix du Québec. These medals given by the government of Québec in recognition of lifetime achievement in art and science.
Name fun facts about yourself.
All of my close friends are musicians, artists or creatives of all sorts. Being from a small town in Québec, the more metropolitan lifestyle in Montréal helped me to see things in a different way.
Not very expressive. Detail-oriented. A perfectionist. I don’t do something because someone tells me to do it; I put it in perspective and question why we do things the way we do. I naturally question things.
Of all the arts and crafts, why did you choose jewelry?
Early on I always wanted to make art knives. And then I left school for two years. When I went back, I found jewelry and got into it deeper and deeper. I studied at L’École de Joaillerie de Montréal (Montréal Jewelry School). When I applied to go to school, I accidentally filled in the wrong application form. At that time there were two different application forms: One for the Québec region and one for the Montréal region. I thought I was applying to the Québec school and got accepted into Montréal. It was the best mistake I have ever made.
What was the first thing you ever made?
When I was at school, I made a sterling silver and wood pendant. I can see now that I was even a perfectionist with that piece.
What or who do you think has been the strongest influence or inspiration on your work?
There is not one specific person. I love the incredible precision in the work of Ford Hallam, a master of traditional Japanese metalwork. I also love the flawless hollowware of Wayne Meeten. I admire the work of the Japanese artist Minoru Hotta, who creates incredible rings using a marriage of different metals techniques, and I admire the design and business skills of Todd Reed.
In such a competitive industry, to what do you credit your longevity?
Listening to the clients. Seeing what they want and who they are. Designing something for them personally.
Do you have any advice for those starting out in the jewelry world?
Never stop designing and drawing. Draw, draw, draw. I teach in Montréal and I live north of the city. While I am driving, I am still creating things in my mind that I would like to make.
What would you say you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were 20?
When you are 20, you think you know everything (that makes me sound old, I know). There are so many little things you don’t know. It is tricky to slow down and enjoy life and not think about the next day, but I try to focus more and more on the present moment.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Some of my students think of me as a master jeweler, but I am just trying to do my best to push the envelope with every project. It is important to me to give my students the skills to be able to make a living in jewelry with good pieces. Most of them don’t think they are good enough to enter contests, so I try to help them to believe in themselves.
What artist dead or alive do you most admire?
I love the work of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright with its open geometric constructions.
What is your favorite quote in either business or art?
“Don’t let the technique get in the way of your creativity. If you don’t know how to do it, figure it out.” One of my teachers told me this.
What is your definition of “success”?
It includes so many things. Everything flowing together. A good family and wife. Time for school. And having recognition from my peers. Success is when you feel you are at the right place.
What is your favorite tool?
I have a lot…but the hammer. It is the most primitive of tools yet very complicated. It is the most romantic tool we have in our tool box. When I am teaching and I have a new assistant, I ask, “If you were a hammer which hammer would you be?” I then make each of them a hammer pin.
Also the saw. You can do anything with it.
What is your favorite type/piece of jewelry?
Big rings and bracelets. I like the size of bracelets because they give you lots of space to work on. Mostly I do rings. I enjoy making uncommon wedding rings. For me it is such an important day, and to be able to participate is truly an honor.
Interview by Marlene Richey