1st Place - Metal Clay
Everything Rodica creates comes from her fascination with the relationship between the body, the mind and The Divine. A full-time jewelry artist and metal-clay instructor with a doctorate in psychiatry, Rodica uses her jewelry to explore the healing capacity of archetypal forms. She is the artist behind Sky and Beyond jewelry, which she runs alongside her husband. Rodica resides in Nanaimo, a town on Vancouver Island in Canada.
MARLENE RICHEY: TELL US ABOUT YOUR WINNING PIECE, "ADORE."
Rodica Frunze: The materials are Goldie bronze metal clay, bronze bezel wire and an artisan-cut spectrolite (labradorite) cabochon. Each metal element (excluding the chain and bezel wire) were hand-formed or carved into the clay. The patina and textures were applied in the finishing process to enhance the "endless visual path" objective.
The asymmetric elements of my piece are designed to collaborate in order to produce a continuous flow. This is a replication of the reflection of light by the gemstone that, though static, creates an endless visual path. Neutral space is used around the stone to maintain proportion and balance, allowing all elements to share the attention of the eye.
MR: WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE PIECE?
RF: Quite simply, that allowing intuition to drive the implementation of the design elements produces a deep sense of partnership in the result. I had a conceptual design in my mind, but rather than investing time sketching, I allowed elements to evolve naturally.
MR: DOES IT REFLECT YOUR CURRENT LOOK/DESIGNS/BRAND?
RF: Someone who follows my work would definitely recognize certain elements. However, I am constantly exploring new techniques. "Adore" reflects my "look" today but will evolve into the foundation of tomorrow's design. I feel creating art is the result of experimenting with the limitless possibilities. Placing constraints such as adhering to a "style" or "brand" would be limiting to my creative possibilities.
MR: WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE PIECE?
RF: The stone is the story. My love of spectrolite (labradorite) is readily apparent. It reminds me of ever-changing perspectives and to observe details as part of the whole. Known as the "Spirit Stone," it has influenced me to keep the whole in view. As light is reflected and refracted, I feel that to design around its qualities can only be achieved by integrating its beauty as part of the whole design. I see this as a replication of living with grace, bringing all things into a perspective of the totality of life.
MR: DID YOU STUDY JEWELRY?
RF: Not in a traditional academic sense. I couldn't find the variation of diverse technical skills I needed for my designs being taught locally. However, with the amount of talented artists sharing their skills and companies like Rio Grande producing a wealth of resources online, I was (am) able to follow a traditional learning path.
Starting with wire wrapping provided the opportunity to learn and practice a number of metalsmithing skills and study the properties of metals and gemstones. With metal clay, I saw the potential to create my designs.
MR: WHO IS YOUR DESIGN/JEWELRY MENTOR?
RF: There are so many jewelry artists who inspired me to make art jewelry. Styles from Eastern Europe and the Middle East also have had a profound influence on me. Maybe it's the result of having grown up in a similar environment that creates the affinity, but there is a certain rebellion towards convention I identify with in their work.
MR: WHAT IS YOUR ARTIST STATEMENT/DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
RF: Through the integration of archetypal forms, my works aim to touch the viewer's deepest personal feelings and self-perceptions. This is done with the objective of invoking a juxtaposition of individuality within the context of unity. "For we live in a beautiful dream we call reality."
MR: WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOUR STUDIO?
RF: I love that though my working rituals are quiet, my husband is right by my side. I really appreciate his input in my work and that he keeps the business from being a distraction.
MR: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TOOL?
RF: Flex shaft! Besides my Temple of the Goddess of Fire (kiln), my flex shaft is the only tool I am not able to improvise. I have improvised other tools, but I am not able to attain the quality of finish I look for with my creations. This and its versatility make it indispensable.
MR: WHEN WORKING, WHAT DO YOU LISTEN TO?
RF: I usually have some quiet ambient music or sounds of nature playing, but most of the time I cannot say I'm actively "listening." Once I start a piece, I become fully immersed in the creative process or "flow."
MR: TELL ME THE MOST POWERFUL WORD OF ADVICE YOU RECEIVED WHEN STARTING OUT.
RF: "Feel it, do it." Without my husband saying "feel it, do it," I would probably be building another career in medicine or scientific research. I would not have made my submission to this contest if I had not applied these words. This is how I approach my designs and how we operate our business.
MR: WHAT ONE WORD OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE BEGINNING DESIGNERS?
RF: Accept. It is challenging and intimidating when your passion says to do it and your community says that you need to answer all the questions first. Accept that there is no failure, only learning. Accept that what makes you happy doesn't require others' acceptance. Accept yourself as an expression of The Divine. Accept others along with all the things which arise on your life path as the manifestation of the The Divine.
MR: WHAT WORK INSPIRES YOU? JEWELER? ARCHITECT? PAINTER? ACTOR?
RF: I can be inspired by so many forms of artistic expression. The word artist Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (Rumi) has the greatest impact on my inspiration. I feel that to paint a mind's image of divinity in such an eloquent form is like feeling the breath of God. I feel the same listening to Armenian Duduk music. I find myself deeply influenced by visual arts that express archetypal symbols (trees, mushrooms, doors, fish, sun, moon, mother, healer, etc.) and, undoubtedly, Mother Nature as the supreme designer.
You can see more of Rodica's work at sky-and-beyond.com.
Interview by Marlene Richey