Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Profiles in Artistry - Anna Siivonen

Lora Hart - I first became aware of Anna's work through FaceBook. I saw an image of a fabulous scorpion necklace and was so intrigued with its intricacy and meticulous craftsmanship that I had to learn more about the maker. Anna says she was inspired by two specific images. One of Serqet, the Egyptian goddess of scorpions and venomous creatures, and another image of a scorpion mother carrying her babies on her back.

PMCC - How long have you been working with metal clay?
AS - I first heard of silver clay in 2005. I found info about it online when I was searching for something related to ceramic clay.

PMCC - What skills, interests, or achievements did you bring to your designs from previous, unrelated work? 
AS - I have been drawing, painting, and creating all of my life. When I was six, I took a ceramics class. I kept at it until I was about 25, when I began to teach ceramics to children. From the beginning, my favorite thing was to sculpt people and creatures.

PMCC - How did you discover and/or develop your signature technique?
AS - In 2005, there were very few people working with silver clay in Sweden. I taught myself through the internet, books, and a lot of experimentation. In 2007, I wrote my first book about silver clay called "Skapa i Silverlera"  (Create in Silver Clay), which was published in Sweden and Finland.

"Serqet Scorpio Necklace" Sculpted
in bronze clay, bronze wire, and
assembled with faceted ball chain.The
last little scorpion is also the clasp.

The appearance of bronze and copper clay was quite significant for me. My sculptural work (even the smaller items) usually requires a lot of clay. To experiment and produce as much as I have done in expensive silver clay would not have been possible for me.

Also, selling on Etsy has had a big impact on my style. When I started selling online I did one of a kind things, but I could not sell the items for a price that covered material, time making them, taking pictures, and writing listings. So, I started to research and experiment with methods to reproduce designs and speed up production. I think many of the factors that add up to ”my style” actually result from the time saving methods I use.

PMCC - Do you teach?
I do teach a couple of classes a year, but I teach less when I’m busy making and selling. I like to do both but I definitely consider myself more of a maker than a teacher. I teach intense weekend classes in beginner silver clay and weekly classes in sculpture/production in base metal clay. My favorite class is definitely the latter one which is how I work now.

AS - 'I sculpted a Shar Pei head as a
commission for a customer. Later, when
I wanted to make a pendant, I used
molds and high shrinkage copper
clay to reduce the original, larger head
in size, then sculpted a body for it.'
  PMCC - How would you like your future with metal clay to evolve?
  AS - I would very much like to write a new book about the methods
  I use today and I would like it to be published in English. I even have
  a working title - ”Production Work in Metal Clay”. But writing a
  book is very time consuming, and I’m so obsessed/busy making
  stuff, it gets in the way of starting a big project like that.

  PMCC - Why did you choose metal clay as your primary material?
  AS - I consider myself more of a sculptor than a jewelry maker. I’m         not that interested in jewelry, I never wore it before I started making it.     What I like is constructing and creating stuff, and metal clay has           been the most rewarding artistic outlet of the ones I have tried. Thanks   to metal clay I have been able to quit my day job and support my self     with my obsession.  :)

Puppies carved in unfired bronze clay
PMCC - Would you mind sharing a bit about your process?
AS - I use my fingers, a scalpel, and a brush for
sculpting. I don't sketch on paper, but sometimes I make 'sketches' with clay. I usually start by making a rough shape by hand in copper clay, letting it dry, then I refine it by adding and subtracting clay, carving, and scratching in detail lines.

PMCC - What would you like new users of metal clay to know?
AS - My advice to new users of metal clay is be creative, experiment, and don’t be too hard on yourself. What you consider a failure might be a success if you look at it differently. Many of my bestsellers are
”accidental designs” - things that didn't end up as I originally pictured,
but that turned into something that was even better.

PMCC - Anna, thanks for this insight into your work and process. Your carving skills add so much life to the world of metal clay. We certainly hope you get around to writing that book. It sounds like a great subject!

Anna's website

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

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