Friday, September 26, 2008

October Artist Interview -- Tessa Rickard

When I first came across Tessa Rickard's shop on Etsy, I nearly squeeled with delight. Doll Disaster Designs is a shop filled with curiosities, originality, and raw TALENT! Tessa's work is the sort of jewelry design I aspire to--she uses found objects, lots of casting both in sterling silver and resin, gemstones, natural elements such as bone, fur, and wood, plus a heaping scoop of doll imagery. Her custom lockets are beyond amazing, and her resin doll pendants, gemstone rings, and brooches simply fly out of her shop. Some may consider her work strange or even creepy, but you cannot deny her work is compelling, fascinating, and uncoventionally beautiful. I couldn't wait to interview her!

KM: Tell us a little bit about you.

TR: My name is Tessa Rickard-Carpenter. I use Tessa Rickard for my art, no need dragging my husband into my crazy world. I will be 35 on Sept. 20 (KM: Happy belated birthday, Tessa!). I am married with two daughters. I went to Ball State University and received two degrees--a BFA in Drawing and a BFA in Metals. I then moved to Michigan to get my Masters in Metalsmithing at Cranbrook Academy of Art. I teach jewelry classes part time at a community college. I sell my work online through my Etsy shop.

KM: Okay, what's up with the name "Doll Disaster Design"?

TR: My master's degree thesis was titled "From The Mind of a Doll Disaster". I used a lot of doll imagery in my work. I still do now also.

KM: When did you know you wanted to be an "artist"?

TR: My mother says she couldn't keep enough paper in the house for me as a child. I remember being happy when I would draw or make something, and that is still how I feel today. I guess it would be high school that I decided to be a "real" artist. In college I figured out how hard it was going to be to make a living being just an artist, so I decided to also teach art.

KM: What inspires you?

TR: Old, forgotten, broken objects. Bones, teeth, natural oddities. Folklore, Mythology, Alchemy, Symbolism, Spells/Charms, and the Grotestuque. I especially like old, creepy, dolls.

KM: What is your favorite medium and why?

TR: I love working with metal. When I was little I would go with my dad when he would use the metal detector and to dig in old dump sites. After he would dig up an old coin or piece of jewelry, I would remember thinking how interesting it was that it was still there after being buried for so long. We would find old, broken bisque dolls and other metal objects too. Working in metal to me means a more permanent or indestructible piece of art. I love the thought of someone someday digging up one of my pieces!

KM: Who are your favorite artists and how do they inspire you?

TR: In the jewelry world:
Keith Lewis, Todd Reed, Yeonmi Kang, Kiff Slemmons, Felieke Van Der Leest, Min-Jung Cho, William Harper, John Paul Miller, and Richard Mawdsle. Other Artists: Hye Won Kim, Joel-Pete Witkin, Otto Dix, Karl Blossfeldt, Nick Bantock, Kiki Smith, Bosch, Kvium, Egon Schiele, Joseph Cornell, and Van Gogh. This just names a few! They are my favorites for many reasons. The subject matter, images, objects used, and the way their work makes me feel are the main reasons.

KM: What does the term ART mean to you? Expression? Interpretation? Therapy?

TR: Art means a lot of expression and a little therapy to me. There are lots of thoughts and feeling in side me that are hard for me to communicate. My art is a visual way for me to express my inner self.

KM: What are you working on right now?

TR: I am working on a series of pieces combining teeth (human real, false, partials, and animal) with faceted gem stones. Combining the not so pleasent maybe gross (not to me) teeth with gems excites me! I want people to take a second look at the pieces!

KM: What is your studio/workspace like? Neat or controlled chaos?

TR: My studio is a mess! I love it that way! If I could I would have everything out so I can see it all. My husband can't even look at my desks because It makes him crazy. Most of the time I get so many ideas I start laying everything out and end up working on my lap.

KM: What is your favorite studio tool/gadget/gizmo?

TR: I love my forming pliers. Sounds pretty boring, but I use them all the time. I also use a wooden chop stick to set most of my bezels.

KM: Tell us a little bit about your perspective on the link between art and nature.

TR: How can you not be inspired by nature?!? The world around us is in everything we do and make. Mother Nature is one of the best artists. I love the natural order in nature and the circle of life. I use objects that have been left behind. Bones, teeth, insects, and so on. But, I don't believe in harming animals for my work--I use only found objects.

KM: Finally, what advice/encouragement can you give to struggling artists in the world?

TR: Don't give up! Believe it or not, there is a market and place for your art out there somewhere! It may take time to find it. I struggled for years with galleries, and shows trying to sell my work. I always stayed true to myself and what I wanted to make. I found Etsy and I now know there are people out there to appreciate me and my pieces.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Favorite Book of the Moment

Stephanie Lee is a fantastic jewelry designer. She has vision, talent, and has written a wonderful new book, "Semiprecious Salvage". It's full of delightful jewelry and art designs using found objects, metals, and gemstones. She explains each project in detail while taking you on a journey through her imagination along the way. Her book is laid out like an expedition to an exotic far away land--very inspiring! She has an Etsy shop, under the name Dabbler--you must see her work! This book has helped me take my jewelry in a whole new direction. Thank you Stephanie, for giving me the inspiration and courage I needed to try something new. I hope to interview you soon!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Psssst....Your Crimps are Showing!

They say that "the Devil is in the details", and with jewelry design that is certainly true. Even artists who design and create assemblage or salvage-type jewelry that looks rough-and-tumble or even "unfinished" will tell you that hours and hours are spent perfecting every "imperfection". Details matter--period. That's why I feel that it is so important for artists of every skill level to make certain not to skip basic details of jewelry design. You can have a fantastic design/creation fall short for the want of a few simple steps. One of the first things I learned as a "newbie" jewelry designer was to COVER MY CRIMPS. Back in the "olden days" before commercial crimp covers were even thought of, I was squinting into my magnifying light, forcing 3 and 5mm seamed sterling silver beads open with a bead reamer to fit over my crimps. I'd then squeeze the bead closed and "Voila", the crimp now was a bead. I also always made sure to tuck my thread ends into adjacent beads so no loose threads or bead wire ever shows. This may sound silly, but details like these make a huge difference and will translate into better sales and better designs. So, don't get caught with your crimps showing--your jewelry will thank you for it!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Artist Profile - Sister, Sister

When choosing an artist to be the first profiled on this blog, there was only one choice for me, my sister, Lynn McGovern ( Lynn is many things--a fantastic sister, dance partner, friend, mother, and AMAZING glass artist. Besides all that, Lynn is the person that has most inspired me in my life to persue my interests in art and jewelry design. I have learned so much from her, and we have collaborated and partnered for many years. Lynn lives in Traverse City, Michigan with her son Ben, and is the original founder of Beadkeepers. Lynn creates amazing beads and jewelry from lampwork glass and is currently exploring architectural/sculptural glass. Thanks, Lynn, I can't wait to see what you do next!

KM: When did you know you wanted to be an "artist"?

LM: I can't remember a time when I didn't find it extraordinary to learn how to take something and turn it into something else. I'll date myself here, and remember how much I loved "Tot-Lot", a program held at a local park. Bored teenagers would teach us how to make pot holders from fabric bands and flowers from tissue paper. I think that you look at the world differently when you have that creative streak. Driftwwod, stones, feathers, and beach glass become ingredients or a palette for an expression of your heart. I do remember my third grade teacher asking me if she could keep a still life drawing that I did to show to future students. It was defining for me to be told that I had a talent, when at that point I just thought everybody loved to draw.

KM: What inspires you?

LM: My inspiration comes from so many sources, but my message is always to honor "all our relations". To express my love and energy for all of creation. This changes with the seasons, the times, and my own place in the universe today.

KM: What is your favorite medium and why?

LM: Glass, glass, glass. For many years now I have been involved in some sort of a relationship with glass. Stained glass in the 70's, glass beads in the 80's and 90's and then I found out how to melt and form my own lampwork glass beads. Glass is light. It reflects, refracts, and transmits light. Like a painter who will tell you that painting a picture is painting light, working with glass is dancing with light.

KM: Who are your favorite artists and how do they inspire you?

LM: My favorite glass artists are my beloved teachers. Loren Stump--a true master of the flame. Kimberly Fields, whose beads mimic the natural world she loves with astounding acuracy. Sharon Peters, who manages to bring her wonderfully twisted sense of humor into her glass creations. Emile Galle' has managed to put his dreams into glass in the 1800's, and his work takes my breath away. My sister Karen's work continues to amaze me. She takes me back to my initial wonder of taking something and turning it into something else, limited only by imagination.

KM: What does the term ART mean to you? Expression? Interpretation? Therapy?

LM: All of the above and I would include to honor and explore.

KM: What are you working on right now?

LM: I recently purchased a condo in a historical 19th century insane asylum that is being redeveloped into an incredible village of residents and retail. This "Kirkbride" building was built with the idea that "Beauty is Therapy". The architecture is stunning, full of mosaic marble floors, 20 ft. ceilings, and--my personal favorite--peaked spires that were included in the building design to intake fresh air. I am intriqued by the spires and spend as much time as I can up inside them, mesmerized by the fantastic views of Northern Michigan. They have inspired me to create "spire" beads. Tricky architectural details challenge me technically, and I love that challange.

KM: What is your studio/workspace like? Neat? Controlled chaos?

LM: My studio space is a place where most would wonder how I manage to accomplish anything! But, it is a place where in all the mess, I know where everything lives.

KM: What is your favorite tool/gadget/gizmo? You know, the thing/tool you love to use, that makes your work easier, better, fun, etc.--could be anything, even music. For me it's my ridiculously oversized electrical repair soldering gun.

LM: I love my oxygen/propane torch. My torch is an extention of my hands. Music is a constant, can't work without it.

KM: Tell us a little bit about your perspective on the link between art and nature.

LM: I looked up the definition of nature to answer this. ( I love my dictionary). Webster's says that nature is the "realm of the living". Art reflects that. Art honors that. There isn't a day that Nature doesn't offer me an inspiration to create. There isn't a day that I am not grateful for that.

KM: What advice/encouragement can you give to struggling artists in the world?

LM: Keep struggling!!! If you have the urge, need, inspiration to create then you will not be happy unless you do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Art and Politics

You simply cannot argue that ART is a true form of human expression on every level. Love it or hate it, the socio-politics of the moment are reflected in everything from news media to "info-tainment" to fine arts and crafts. Here are but a few examples of artists expressing their beliefs and interpretations of the United States 2008 Presidential Election.

From left to right: Etsy's artisanimprinters, Etsy's brookadelphia, on Flickr

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fabulous WebFinds September

I surf the 'Net a lot looking for weird and unusual beads, findings, gems, metals, STUFF for my jewelry designs. On of my new favorite websites is ARTchix Studio where you can find fantastic and unique items for those of us in love with vintage, assemblage, paper arts, collages, and odd bits and pieces. I've been purchasing like mad from the endless selection of gorgeous transparencies, and am in love with their selection of super-fab metal shrines and boxes (just waiting to be embellished, rusted, encrusted, and adorned!). They have so much to choose from! Simply a great selection of ecclectic items at great prices. You can also get great inspiration from photos and information about finished pieces created by artists from around the country. Check them out RIGHT NOW!

Welcome to the Studio!

Hello art lovers! I've decided to include you in my world of blogging, which covers everything from rants about the environment, celebrities, life, and now, ART. I am a jewelry designer and conservation biologist. I create jewelry to raise funds for wildlife conservation, focusing my designs on my belief that art and nature are one and the same. You can't have one without the other. So, here I'll post new ideas, introduce you to some of my favorite artists and generally try to get you as excited about art and nature as I am!

A little about myself. My husband and I live and work on a 30-acre wildlife conservation center and I have some of the worlds rarest animals and plants in my "backyard" including tiny marmosets from Peru that can sit in the palm of your hand, 1,000 lb. antelope from Africa, and rare Brazillian parrots. Every day is an adventure and an inspiration for my jewelry designs.

My real goal is to get people interested in nature through art. So, forgive me if I continually and shamelessly promote the organization I work for, the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation ( throughout my website and this blog. We're a small, focused organization striving to save what's left of the world's wild places. Check out the website--you'll be pleasantly surprised!!

So, I hope you'll come back to visit this little blogspot often--I'll be featuring amazing artists, offer cool ideas and any new "tricks of the trade" that I come across, and generally try to encourage you to join me on an artistic journey into the wilderness...Thanks for stopping by!