Friday, June 5, 2009

Finding My Style

For the last year, I've been a part of the EtsyMetal group. It's a wonderful group of metalsmiths that sell through Etsy - and being part of it has helped pull me out of my shell. Recently, the idea was thrown out that it'd be fun if we all (or at least some of us) posted on the same topic on the same day - a sort of blog carnival. It sounded like fun to me, so I jumped on board for this month...

The topic? How did those of you with a signature style come to it? What inspired you to that signature style?

For me, it took years to come to my current style of simple and playful metalwork that incorporates found natural materials. I think that's part of the process of coming up with a signature style... you have to look at a lot of other work, play with a lot of different ideas, try lots of things, explore, push... and wait for it all to click at some point.

I started taking metalwork classes in January 2005. At the time, I was just diving into the issue of sustainability. (I've always been "green" - but more because that's how I grew up than because I understood anything about carbon footprints.) I was also trying to figure out how to cope with the lack of trees and greenery in Southern California, after growing up in Oregon and going to college in Massachusetts. I was really torn about living down here and the consumerism I'm surrounded with and the aforementioned lack of wild spaces - and it all started to come through in my class projects.

For my birthday that year, I was gifted a wonderful book (a collection of philosophical essays about nature that is now one of my favorite titles): The Pine Island Paradox. I read it cover to cover several times and then took a quote out of it for a project during the fall of 2005...

The following semester (spring 2006), I really dove even further into my frustration with my surroundings and worked on several pieces that helped me deal with the industrialization all around me (and the radical sustainability ideas I had at the time)...

Then, an interesting thing happened. I got tired of fighting all the time (I was heavily involved in politics at the time) and I started looking at my surroundings a bit differently. I became fascinated with the way that nature could reclaim industrialized spaces, like the grass and weeds that were growing through the concrete at an abandoned and fenced-off gas station.

And then, one day, that fall, I went for a walk in a park and I stumbled onto several trees whose leaves had changed into glorious reds and oranges and which were sprinkled all over the ground. I felt momentarily transported out of Southern California. And I was simultaneously fascinated by the fact that, after living here for four years, this was the first time I had ever noticed leaves changing colors in Southern California. I started to realize that I've been surrounded by nature since day one, but I never realized it because it's so subtle.

I scooped up handfuls of leaves and took them home. It took me awhile after that to actually do anything with them, but I knew (from that moment I first found them) that they would end up being extremely important for my artistic development.

Several months later, I finally started to hit on a way to incorporate those leaves. And then I started branching out to other found natural materials. And, lo and behold, I stumbled onto my style.

In 2007, Russ shot and put together this slideshow of me and my style - and I put it up here as further background information. Enjoy!

And check out these other EtsyMetal members' responses to the same question:
Cynthia Del Guidice
Andes Cruz
Andes Cruz
Danielle Miller
Sara Westermark
Beth Cyr
Ashley Akers
Nina Gibson


Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing your story of inspiration. I found it quite enthralling and very descriptive of your interests and motivations.

~ Lora Hart Jewels ~ said...

What a great video Laura! I love the peek into your process. Thanks for sharing a bit of your soul.