Sunday, January 22, 2012

Introducing Janet Alexander - Our Newest Senior Instructor and Technical Advisor

How long have you been working with metal clay?
Steadily for two years, but I started in 1999 when I asked Art Clay instructor Karen Dore to teach a class for the Craft Guild of Dallas.

What did you do before that?
I was trained in traditional metal smithing with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in metals, at the University of North Texas. I'm also a certified diamond grader and stone setter with the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). Additionally, I was a bench jeweler for Service Merchandise, and the store manager and jeweler at Fast Fix Jewelry Repair.

I have a degree in Multimedia and have been working as a technical writer, web content writer, and programmer in Flash, RoboHelp, HTML, Director, and Premiere Pro (film editing) for 11 years. I also wrote user documentation for computer systems, which is why my tutorials are very detailed.

What other mediums do you work with?
I like to work with warm glass, creating wall art and slumped dishes. Right now I'm spending my spare time filming and editing jewelry making training videos.

How did you come to be a PMC Connection Senior Teacher? What year?
I decided to look into working with metal clay again when my students wanted to learn a quicker way to make prototypes for casting without the expensive tools and massive time it takes to carve waxes and cast them. So in 2010 I took Level One and Level Two certification with Marlynda Taylor. Soon after that I taught a fabrication class at PMC Connection's main office, and was "discovered" by president Jennifer Roberts. After completing the certification program with Lora Hart in LA, I became a Level One certifying instructor. Two weeks ago I was made a full fledged Senior.

What do you think is the most exciting aspect of teaching?
It's very gratifying when my student “gets it”, when they understand how to do something they thought was unattainable and now see it as an easy task.

Do you have a studio in your home? What does it look like?
I have a small workshop my back yard. It's a portable building that has room for three students and my bench. It stays cluttered because I always have several projects going at one time. The only time it gets cleaned, is when I misplace something!

Do you teach at home or another venue?
I teach locally at WiredUP Beads in South Lake TX and in my home studio. This June I'll be teaching 8 classes at the Bead & Button show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - some in metal clay and others in metal fabrication. I've also taught at Bead Fest TX.

Do you like to take classes yourself? What kind?
I take classes that can improve my teaching knowledge. This month I will be learning intermediate photography skills for jewelry.

Do you sell your work? Where?
I make one-of-a-kind, commission jewelry for personal customers and sell through local fine jewelry stores. My work has also been displayed in the El Paso Museum of Fine Art, Wichita Museum of Fine Art, and in the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by gemstones. I find a stone I like and then design around it. Additionally I'm inspired by nature. I go for hikes and try to look for objects and textures that may not have been noticed by most people, which I then like to incorporate into my work.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am experimenting with the new sterling silver metal clay. I want to see how much I can push it. I am also playing with carving metal clay and then adding enamels.

Where has your work been published?
Some of my work has been published in American Craft Magazine, Metalclay Artist Magazine, and in the New Directions: Powder Metallurgy in a Sheet Metal World book and on-line exhibit. I was also a contributor to a book being published August 2012, called Metal Clay in Color by Kalmbach publishing.

Tell us about an artistic hero or influence.
My beginning jewelry teacher in high school, Mr. Ed Barker! He got me started in all this!

Thanks Janet! It's so great to have you on the team and to learn more about your background. I can't wait to see the wonderful posts you come up with.

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