Friday, February 25, 2011

Meet Our Teachers...

Introducing Debbie Rijns


How long have you been working with metal clay?
I discovered metal clay about nine years ago and have been at it ever since.

What did you do before that?
I was a porcelain restorer in my former life (or pre-PMC days) and enjoyed bringing treasures back to their former glory. My specialty was the restoration of Oriental porcelains and marble busts.

What other mediums do you work with?
I have a fascination for pre-loved treasures and enjoy putting together small scale mixed media installations.

How did you come to be a PMC Connection Senior Teacher? What year?
I was so enamored with the PMC concept that I went full out to get as much experience as possible, taking courses when and where I could and researching what was happening elsewhere in the world. After working on my own for about two years, I decided it was time to become a Senior Instructor. In 1994 MaryAnn Devos came to South Africa to qualify me, and it was shortly after that that we became Mitsubishi`s official importers for South Africa. I have been the Director of Education for seven years.

What do you think is the most exciting aspect of teaching?
From a selfish perspective, it is the creative satisfaction I get. To share this obsession and to inspire others to a creativity they swear they did not possess when they started is an absolute thrill.

Do you have a studio in your home? What does it look like?
We live in mud house, in fact it looks like a huge anthill with a roof on it, My studio probably takes up one third of the floor space of the house. It`s a magical place. The windows are stained glass, shaped like leaves, the walls are curvy (no corners in my house!) and the ceiling is covered in tree branches. The walls are covered with shelves, architects drawers, haberdashery counters and cubbyholes for all my treasures. I have a table big enough to accommodate ten students and a small lounge in the studio where we drink coffee and chat PMC.

Do you teach at home or another venue?
Mainly home, but I do courses and workshops at a couple of craft stores and in private homes. I also like traveling to exotic places and have taught in Dublin, Dubai and on an airplane to Amsterdam!

Do you like to take classes yourself? What kind?
Love to learn from others! I recently attended the Art and Soul Retreat in Portland, Oregon and took classes from Susan Lenart Kazmir, Robert Dancik and Richard Salley. I also had the treat of visiting (and brainstorming) with [fellow Senior Instructor] Ruth Greening.

Do you sell your work? Where?
I have a bit of a following here in South Africa, and have no problem selling my work. I do not have a store that sells my work, I do most of my selling from my studio and at shows we attend during the year. When I can, I do a trunk show in Austin, Texas at a boutique owned by my dear friend Andrea Sher Leff. The Texans like my work.

Where do you find inspiration?
Where don`t I? I can look at a pile of garbage and find something fascinating to inspire me...

What are you working on at the moment?
I picked up some wonderful sea weed in Cape Town a couple of months ago. Shaped like a pipe with a bulbous end on it, I cut a piece about 20cm long. The bulbous end had leaves hanging from it which I cut off. That left me with a flat ridge on the end that I am embellishing with PMC, Vintage African beads and various other treasures. Because the piece is hollow it will become a vessel, I still have to decide how I`m going to make a lid for it.

Where has your work been published?
Setting Stones in PMC by Jeannette Landenwich, PMC Guild Annual, MetalClay Artist magazine and our local Bead Book. I was recently asked if I would like to write a book on PMC with an African flavor, of course I said yes!

Tell us about an artistic hero or influence.
My favorite influences are Baobab trees, flower bulbs and tubers, and the architecture of Morocco. I had an exhibition at an art gallery and entitled it just that "Baobabs, Bulbs and Timbuktu". All the pieces were formed on cork clay. The doors of the little buildings were embellished with Keum Boo and then oxidized to look ancient.

Is there a new direction that you’d like to explore?
I am loving colour on metal and would like to get into enamels in bigger way. I like the idea of my bulbs decorated with an explosion of colour.

What else would you like to tell us about yourself?
My studio door is always open, and I am hoping that one day, some of my American peers will find their way through...


Thanks for chatting with us Debbie. I'd love to visit you in South Africa and I bet many of our readers would too, but we'll have to be satisfied to meet you at the PMCC Retreat at Arrowmont in May.

1 comment:

Deborah Lee Taylor said...

Debbie's work is so inspirational and reading the interview on her journey into the metal clay world is fascinating. Thank you for sharing this. Indeed it would be wonderful to visit her studio, meet the artist and experience her home/studio. It sounds amazing..no corners in a home-I love that!