Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Profiles In Artistry - Anna Mazon

Anna Mazon's lacy, intertwining metal clay work is unlike any other artist that I'm familiar with. She uses gentle fingertips and heartwarming memories of her Grandmother's art to create the secret garden-like vines and floral designs she's best known for.

PMCC - How long have you been working with metal clay?
AM - I found out that metal clay existed in 2008, so roughly 5-6 years.

PMCC - What skills, interests, or achievements do you bring to your designs from previous, unrelated work?
AM - As long as I remember I've loved drawing, sculpting, singing, dancing, writing, etc. - so I guess that I've always enjoyed expressing myself in all possible ways, and I just felt that [with metal clay] I'd found yet another one that I feel I love the most. I am simply a 'dreamer' and I love playing with new ideas in my head. I think this helps me create.

PMCC - How did you discover/develop your signature technique or style?
This is currently my favorite piece.
"Slavic Tales - Leshy" is the keeper
of the forest in Slavic folklore.
It's the first time I used copper,
bronze, and silver in a single piece.
AM - Honestly, I'm not sure. The first piece I ever made with metal clay was already in 'my style'. It was a drop shaped pendant with small, hand sculpted flowers and leaves. This way of working with metal clay and nature related themes was simply natural for me from the very beginning. I never used textures, molds, etc., which seems to be the most popular way of beginning the journey into the metal clay world. The truth is that I'm still not good at using them.

I remember that when I was a child my Grandmother used to make brooches and pendants out of something similar to polymer clay. They were always adorned with tiny flowers and leaves or small, cute creatures like bunnies or dogs. Maybe this was my source of inspiration and made me think that this way of working with metal clay was just the right way for me.

PMCC - How has your work or skill set evolved since you began working with metal clay?
AM - I'm definitely more confident and calm when I'm working. I remember my very first time with silver clay. I didn't know much about it and I was sure that the whole lump would be completely dry in in less than a minute or so, so before opening that first package I thought through the whole process of making a pendant and practiced twice using plasticine. Then when I finally made the piece in clay in about 30 seconds, imagine how surprised I was to discover that it was still moist and pliable! I also did the firing with a clock in my hand because I was sure that if I fired too long, something really bad would happen.

Now, I work rather slowly and give myself all the time in the world to think everything through. I like to work on a few pieces at once, to be able to switch from project to project, to get some distance and later look at my work with a 'fresh eye'. I don't rush myself. Making jewelry for me is kind of a relaxing ritual. Unless something goes wrong - then I'm not relaxed at all and I swear a lot! I'm much more precise and patient than I used to be and and that helps me in many different areas of my life.

"Flower Storm" This bracelet is an example of my signature technique,
which combines both organic and precise working methods. 
PMCC - Do you teach?
AM - Yes I do, mostly abroad. In my home country of Poland, I prefer teaching one to one classes because there is still not enough interest in metal clay to organize regular workshops for larger groups.

During my university years I completed a course for business coaches and was really interested in conducting workshops [focusing on] the sociological and psychological aspects of creativity and group dynamics. I even worked for a while on the Learning & Development team of the HR department. I think this knowledge and experience has helped me as a teacher.

PMCC - Do you consider yourself primarily an artist/maker or a teacher?
AM - Definitely a maker. I love teaching, but for me it's just an additional thing - a wonderful change from my jewelry work, but still - just a side interest. When I do teach, I especially enjoy traveling to teach in other countries - I come up with a lot of new ideas during my journeys. Seeing new places and meeting wonderful, talented people is very inspiring, but I feel most at home when I come back to my workshop and start creating things again.

PMCC - How do you feel about teaching others your signature technique?
AM - Basically great! I have no problem with it. I feel it pushes me further in my explorations to seek new things, new designs, new techniques. It makes me think more creatively. It's also very interesting to see what other people do with my techniques. Pieces created by my students during a workshop are always so unique - each one is so different, even though the technique stays the same. I always encourage my students to incorporate their newly acquired skills into their work and find a way to express their own vision through the skills they learned. I really enjoy that moment when I see their work later and I recognize elements of what I taught them in their creations.

PMCC - How would you like your future with metal clay to evolve?
AM - Let's dream! I would like to get to the point where I could work only on big, statement pieces without worrying about whether they would sell or not. I would like to teach more in other exciting locations - I love traveling and meeting new people. Maybe I could write a book? I already have a good idea, I just need a little push to consider it more seriously. I also enjoy writing very much, so I might like to write regularly for a craft magazine. I have a lot of ideas for the future, maybe some of them will come true.

It was a wonderful experience to see "Sol Omnia Regit"
on the cover of Metal Clay Artist Magazine.
PMCC - Why did you choose metal clay as your primary material? What qualities do you particularly appreciate?
AM - The thing I most love about metal clay is the freedom of creation. I think more about what I want to make, than what I can make using this stuff. Carving, sculpting, etc. in metal clay is so easy from the technical point of view that basically all the possibilities are in your hands - it just depends on your creativity, talent, and intelligence instead of fancy tools and years of hard training in a well equipped, professional workshop. I also love the fact that metal clay can be worked directly with just bare hands - this way I can really leave an impression of myself in my work - figuratively and literally.

PMCC - What would you like new users of metal clay to know?
AM - That it's almost impossible to 'waste' clay. That's the most common fear among people working for the first time with metal clay - especially silver. You can always rehydrate a piece that you're not happy with to turn it back into pliable clay, or paste. Even after firing, you can send finished jewelry to a refiner to get money or new, raw materials in return. So don't worry - just create and see what happens!

We here at PMC Connection would like to congratulate Anna on her 2nd place win for "Flower Storm" in the Saul Bell Design Awards! It's a beautiful bracelet, and a well deserved honor.

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

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