Words, shapes, patterns, colors, cultures—these are the sources of inspiration for the craft artists whose work is shown in the following pages. By hand, the artists take an idea and mold, solder, glaze, fire, dye, and polish it, and a work of art emerges. Simple materials are granted a dignified grace as a sycamore log becomes an exquisite bowl and an old tool handle part of a sculptural bench. This transformation is the essence of fine-art craft.
Free-form Bowl—Sunset, glass, 8 x 24 x 24.
Nina Paladino-Caron and Michael K. Hansen
Nina Paladino-Caron and Michael K. Hansen, partners in California Glass Studio in Sacramento for 21 years, recently expanded their work to include more vibrant tones and bolder color combinations. Their new palette includes bright yellows, leafy greens, vibrant oranges, deep purples, and dazzling reds. “Collectors’ tastes are definitely expanding beyond ‘safe’ colors like teal and rose,” says Paladino-Caron. Many of the new colors are inspired by nature.”
The partners specialize in free-form bowls, vases, and wall sconces with soft, feathery patterns accented by bold strokes of color. They are especially excited by bowls they refer to as “dua tona,” which are characterized by one brilliant hue on the inside and another on the exterior. “The pieces work especially well with contemporary furnishings,” says Paladino-Caron. “Our glass lends itself to decorative display, such as placing a fluted vase on its side to show off the inside colors—it reminds you of a lily or morning glory from the garden.”
Paladino-Caron was born in Sacramento and opened her own glass studio in 1977. Hansen was born in 1947 in Oceanside, CA, and met his partner when he enrolled in a glassblowing class she was teaching at Sierra Community College. —DT
Paladino-Caron and Hansen are represented by Phoenix Rising, Seattle, WA; Imagine Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; Freeflight Gallery, Dallas, TX; Burlwood Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and Petris Gallery, Sausalito, CA.
Vase, ebony, bloodwood, pau amarillo, redwood burl, maple veneer, 11 x 11 x 111⁄2.
Warren Atkins’ turned-wood vessels are inspired by the intricate patterns of Native American baskets and pots. He fashions his bowls and vases from various woods such as redwood lace burl and gaboon ebony and often inlays them with turquoise chips and other materials.
Atkins took up woodworking 40 years ago, but he didn’t direct his full attention to it until he retired from the merchant marine in 1986. Since then, however, he has made tremendous strides in what he refers to as polychromatic or segmented turning of the wood. —DT
Atkins is represented by Fine Woodworking of Carmel, Carmel and Monterey, CA; Potpourri Gallery, Burlingame, CA; and Gallery M, Half Moon Bay, CA.
Teapot With Starfish , ceramic, 61⁄2 x 91⁄4 x 31⁄2.
Gail Paradise’s parents were both artists, and that’s all she ever wanted to be. In fact, clay and paint were a part of her life from the very beginning. As a child, she moved constantly with her parents, living in Mexico, the Caribbean, Haiti, Grenada, and later on a ranch near Tucson, AZ. After majoring in art at Scripps College in Claremont, CA, Paradise set out for New York City to pursue her artistic career, staying 13 years and eventually becoming a professional printer.
In 1974 Paradise moved with her two small children to the woods of New Hampshire, where she lived in a primitive cabin. Always influenced by her environment, she began to produce collagraphs from her numerous sketches and photographs. She then spent a decade in New Orleans, followed by a recent move to Northern California.
Besides functional clay teapots and vases, Paradise’s work includes clay torsos and cast glass embellished with gold leaf. —DT
Paradise is represented by Stary-Sheets Fine Art, Laguna Beach, CA; Carol Robinson Gallery, New Orleans, LA; and Newbill Collection by the Sea, Seaside, FL.
Dog mask, raku clay with mixed media, 13 x 6.
When Hilarey Walker was growing up in Arvada, CO, she was obsessed with animals. So it’s hardly surprising that today the artist gets major inspiration from dogs, cats, even zebras. Walker’s works in clay incorporate the essence of her beloved creatures. The influence of aboriginal and other primitive cultures can also be seen. Most recently she has been creating raku masks of animal faces. Her previous studies in life drawing prepared her for the detail and emotion that make her masks lifelike; she was a fine-arts student at Metropolitan State College in Denver when she discovered clay. “I often found myself sitting in a watercolor class staring out the window at the students who were firing work in kilns,” she says. “I realized it was more me to get my hands dirty.”
For more than 10 years Walker has fanned her creative flame in her home in Edgewater, just outside Denver. The lids of her raku vessels are topped with hand-painted animal figures, and the body of the piece is also painted to resemble animal skin. For her masks, she sketches ideas, makes paper patterns, then rolls out the clay, carves, and fires it. She uses acrylics, charcoals, and oil pastels to decorate the surface. Walker is pleased to be making a living at something she enjoys so much. “Working in the craft media is what I love,” she says. —LB
Walker is represented by Clay & Fiber Gallery, Taos, NM; Mariposa Gallery, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM; Obsidian Gallery, Tucson, AZ; Howell/Cole Gallery, Denver, CO; and Hibberd McGrath Gallery, Breckenridge, CO.
Necklace from the Art, Persona, Science Series, sterling silver, rubber, pyrex.
For New Mexico jeweler Suzanne Stern, everything around her is inspiration. “My husband often teases me that I try to turn everything into jewelry,” she says. “Inspiration could come from a book I’ve read, from a comment, from a color.” Needless to say, the artist is never short of ideas.
The compositions of her primarily metal and glass pieces hint at her background as an abstract painter, but Stern has focused on making jewelry for more than 10 years, a medium she finds more comfortable. She likes the tasks of metal construction—the cutting, soldering, sanding, and polishing. And glass is a fine complement to metal because it’s very fluid to work with, she says. She started working in glass only six years ago when she discovered it was an easy way to add color to her pieces. “More than line, texture, or pattern, my work revolves around color,” she says. Whatever material helps to create the image in her head is what Stern uses—be that a diamond or a piece of plastic. “I don’t look at the prescribed value of materials,” she says, “just at how they work in the piece.”
Stern makes primarily brooches and necklaces that belong to themed series. “I view them as little portraits,” she says. A recent series, Flowers for
Flowers for Magda brooches, sterling silver, gold, handmade glass beads, 13⁄4 – 21⁄2 diameter.
Magda, was inspired by an interview she conducted with a Holocaust survivor. —LB
Stern is represented by Obsidian Gallery, Tucson, AZ, and Facèré Jewelry Art, Seattle, WA.
When the copper jewelry Sarah Obrecht was making became too big to wear, she knew it was time to switch forms. So Obrecht, who has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in jewelry making, went back to school for another master’s—this time in metalwork.
Today she creates copper forms that emulate nature, each piece carefully illustrating the fragility of a dead leaf or the curve of a bottle tree. “I’ve always been into plant forms, which probably comes from growing up in Hawaii where there’s all that lush plant life,” says Obrecht, who now lives near Phoenix, AZ. The artist has quite a collection of natural objects that she picks up on hikes. Using them for inspiration, she sketches with the metal, working out a form that will be the piece’s center. From there, she builds out, maybe clustering leaves along a vine or layering pods. Obrecht utilizes a technique known as electroforming, which gives the copper a rough, natural feel. She uses patinas—and occasionally polymer clay—to add dimension and color. The result: a natural, earth-toned form that hints at the immediacy and also the solemnity of nature. —LB
Obrecht is represented by The Hand & The Spirit, Scottsdale, AZ; Sybaris Gallery, Royal Oak, MI; and William Havu Gallery, Denver, CO.
Open Serpent Basket, glass, 10 x 121⁄2.
“We will be changing history and starting a Native American glass movement,” says Tony Jojola of plans to build a glassblowing hot shop at the Taos Pueblo. The project is modeled on the Hilltop Artists-in-Residence program in Tacoma, WA, which teaches glassblowing and related arts to students ages 11 to 19, most of whom are from low-income families. Jojola has taught at Hilltop for two years and recently returned to his native New Mexico to help start a similar project that will involve not just children but the whole tribe. “We want the adults and elders to get involved,” says Jojola.
Construction of the facility began this fall. When completed, the 3,000-square-foot studio will be a venue for blowing glass, casting glass sculpture, and making beads and tiles. The artworks will be sold in the studio and also marketed nationwide; part of the profits will go directly to the artists and part to a fund for the tribe.
Jojola studied glassblowing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME, and Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA. He also spent two years working on the glassblowing team of renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Of the Taos Pueblo hot shop, Jojola says, “I’ve always wanted to help teach Indian kids and get something positive going for Native Americans. This project has the potential to make a difference.” —MB
Jojola is represented by Running Ridge Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.
Hand-woven scarves, cotton, rayon, silk, 10 x 75.
New Mexico weaver Juanita Girardin is knee-deep in fabrics. The Massachusetts native discovered a passion for weaving in the late 1970s when she participated in several continuing education courses at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. In the more than 20 years since, Girardin has taken a few workshops but considers herself primarily self-taught. Inspired by other cultures including those of Africa and Japan, she observes various weaving techniques closely; she is especially drawn to those of primitive cultures.
“I think of myself more as a designer than a weaver,” says Girardin, who comes up with patterns in her mind, then sketches them in black and white before beginning a piece with yarn and hand-dyed ribbon. “Once I’m at the loom, I feel totally grounded,” she says. Her patterns, however, hold no particular symbolism. “It’s more about technique than having a concept,” says Girardin. But such rich titles as Turkish Red, African Green, and A Sack of Autumn hint that each pattern does indeed have meaning—even if it’s something only the artist comprehends.
Girardin has participated in the American Craft Show in Baltimore, MD, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, CO, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s annual craft fair. —LB
Girardin is represented by Isadora Handweaving Gallery, Sedona, AZ; Santa Fe Weaving Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Signature Galleries, Boston, MA; The Flying Shuttle, Seattle, WA; and An American Craftsman, New York, NY.
Raku vessel, clay, 22 x 15 x 6.
Liz Anderson became interested in ceramics in the 1960s when she was living in Japan and began collecting Japanese pottery. Later, living in Australia, she had time on her hands and decided to take a workshop in ceramics. From there her skill and her interest in the craft steadily grew. She started hand building her pots, beginning with small, slab-built pieces. After moving to Colorado, she spent eight summers taking workshops at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass. “I got to work with a lot of well-known potters there,” she says. “That experience really broadened my ideas about clay.”
As Anderson became more accomplished, she made larger and larger pots—today her ceramic sculptures are as tall as 22 inches. She uses a low-fire technique in which the clay is fired to 1,800 degrees—about half the temperature of traditional firing. “I’m interested in form and shape,” she says. “The idea for one of my largest pots came from a small piece of jewelry—I was intrigued by its shape.” Anderson resists labeling her work as either ceramics or sculpture: “They’re just my pots,” she says. —MB
Anderson is represented by Mariposa Gallery, Albuquerque, NM, and LewAllen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.
Corn Maiden, batik on silk, 29 x 27.
As a young girl, Lila Hahn lived in the Middle East, South America, and Asia, where she became familiar with the muted colors and abstract shapes of traditional Indonesian batik. After studying art at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Hahn decided “to bring batik into a new age,” she says. “My images express Native American traditions and the beauty of Mother Nature.”
Hahn starts each batik by tracing her design onto a piece of silk. She then begins the resist-wax process, placing hot wax on the areas of the design that should not take color, dyeing the silk, and letting it dry. Hahn may repeat this process as many as 20 times on a single batik. She breaks with tradition by using a brush to apply dyes to some areas of her design instead of dyeing the entire piece of silk. This technique is risky, though, because the dyes bleed on the wet silk and are difficult to control.
Hahn creates batik’s trademark “crinkled” appearance by waxing the silk and wadding it into a ball to create cracks in the wax. Then she applies a final dye to fill in the cracks. Finally, she irons the silk between newsprint to remove the wax. The finished piece is dry-mounted and framed under glass. —KB
Hahn is represented by Plainsmen Gallery, Dunedin, FL; Columbine Gallery, Frisco, CO; Cowboys & Indians, Minturn, CO; LaFuente Gallery, Sedona, AZ; and Prairie Edge Gallery, Rapid City, SD.
Sarah, sterling silver, glass, fiber, 21⁄2 x 13⁄4 x 1⁄4.
“After many years of creating work inspired by the cultures of the Southwest, I began to explore my own cultural imagery in my jewelry,” says Nomi Green of her Women of the Lost Tribe series of Judaic women. Green, who lives in New Mexico, creates sterling silver pins adorned with glass and fiber elements. Each pin is accompanied by a description of the woman depicted. Of Sarah [left], Green says, “Sarah is the Earth Woman—she who creates abundance where once was barrenness, causing the desert to bloom.”
Green began her career as a fiber artist but was exposed to jewelry-making when she worked as a production manager for a silver jewelry company in Santa Fe. “I learned different techniques from observing other artists and began to try them myself,” she says. Most recently Green spent two years taking courses in fiber arts and jewelry-making at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her jewelry is in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK; and the Autry Museum, Los Angeles, CA. —MB
Green is represented by Dashke Roth, New Orleans, LA; American Artisans, Sherman Oaks, CA; Zina Sherman, Beverly Hills, CA; The Indian Store, Los Gatos, CA; and Felipe’s Indian Jewelry, Albuquerque, NM.
Turned wood vessel, spalted ponderosa, h22.
Dallas artist Ted Knight says he became a wood turner almost 40 years ago when his junior-high school wood-shop teacher told him that his proposed lathe project, a long-stemmed goblet, would be impossible to make. Undaunted, Knight made two of them. “That experience lit a fire in me,” says Knight, and inspired him to pursue woodworking as a career. He became an architect and designer, but commercial work eventually took its toll, and he has been a full-time artist since 1993.
Each of Knight’s vessels, which measure 20 to 30 inches in diameter, takes about two years to produce. He works on a lathe that he built specifically to accommodate large vessels; he has also made most of his own tools. His raw materials are solid logs that often weigh as much as 600 pounds, while finished vessels usually weigh about 15 pounds. Spalted hackberry, sycamore, and ponderosa are among the woods he prefers.
The skill of wood turning requires time to perfect, but even after years of practice, Knight says, it can be an unpredictable process. “One slip can turn two years of preparation into firewood in a split second. Unlike clay or molten glass, you can’t put the wood back together and start over. One shot is all you get.” —KB
Knight is represented by Karen Mitchell Frank Gallery, Dallas, TX, and Galerie Zuger, Aspen, CO, and Santa Fe, NM
van Barnett/David Ebner, Bench #2, ash, hickory, leather, brass, 20 x 60 x 18.
“I love surfaces and painted flat elements,” says Ivan Barnett, who pursues his interest in color and texture on both a large and small scale in his fine-art furniture and jewelry. Barnett’s furniture—tables, benches, lamps—is the product of a collaboration with David Ebner, with whom he became friends while serving in Vietnam. About 10 years ago the friends began a creative partnership, assembling art furniture from such found objects as wheel parts and
Ivan Barnett/Allison Buchsbaum Barnett, brooches, sterling silver, gold, steel,pigment, 2 x 2.
tool handles along with bronze, silver, brass, gold leaf, handmade paper, and leather. “I’m color-oriented and two-dimensional, and David is a cabinet maker who is more mechanically inclined,” says Barnett. Today Barnett lives in New Mexico and Ebner in New York, but they visit each other’s studios several times a year.
For his jewelry, Barnett collaborates with his wife, metalsmith Allison Buchsbaum Barnett. “One week I’ll be working on a 6-foot-long table composed of a hundred elements, and the next I’m working with Allison doing very detailed work on a 2-inch brooch,” Barnett says. Still, the elements of their assemblage pieces are similar to those in his furniture—steel, iron, color, and texture. “I like moving in different directions,” says Barnett, “and working with Allison has allowed me to explore a whole new field.” —MB
Barnett’s furniture is represented by Maceen Gallery, Boston, MA; his jewelry is represented by Golden Eye, Santa Fe, NM; Mariposa Gallery, Albuquerque, NM; Facèré Jewelry Art, Seattle, WA; and Linda Richman Gallery, Birmingham, AL; and his sculpture by Martin-Harris Gallery, Jackson, WY.
Dango #95-7-3 , ceramic, 69 x 72 x 23.
Jun Kaneko likens his creative process to walking through fog. “I see a shadow of some obscure gray object far off in the fog suggesting some kind of shape, and that form gets sharper and sharper as I approach,” he says. “The suggestion of the shape in my mind finally becomes a reality.”
Kaneko is known for his monumental ceramic sculptures that marry minimal form and expressionistic surfaces. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Japanese-born artist began his career as a painter: The splashes, drips, and marks that embellish his ceramic tile murals, plates, and sculpture forms called Dangos (Japanese for “dumplings”) constantly make reference to abstract expressionism.
His shift to sculpture took place after he arrived in California in 1964 and began studying ceramics with Jerry Rothman in Paramount, CA; Peter Voulkos at the University of California, Berkeley; and Paul Soldner at Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA. Kaneko went on to teach at Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, and Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI. —DT
Kaneko is represented by Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Klein Artworks, Chicago, IL; Leedy Voulkous Gallery, Kansas City, MO; Mark Masuoka Gallery, Las Vegas, NV; and LewAllen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.
Connecticut artist Missy Stevens has always been fascinated by fabric and thread. As a young girl she made clothes for her dolls from scraps of fabric and ribbons that the neighborhood button shop saved for her. By the time she was in fifth grade, Stevens was making many of her own clothes.
During her high-school art classes, Stevens began to realize that she could turn her love of thread and fabric into a career. After graduation she attended New England College and Boston University, where she earned a degree in artisanry. She also met artist Tommy Simpson, whom she later married.
Stevens began as a weaver of rugs and wall paintings, but she disliked weaving because it didn’t allow for enough creativity—it was difficult to alter a design once it was started. Instead she began doing embroidery with a punch needle. Today her thread paintings—often inspired by African textiles and by the natural surroundings of her home—are exhibited at galleries and fine crafts shows across the country. —KB
Stevens is represented by Hibberd McGrath Gallery, Breckenridge, CO; LewAllen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; The Works Gallery, Philadelphia, PA;
Leo Kaplan Modern, New York, NY; and the Westman Collection, Birmingham, MI.
From left to right: Jazz Fusion, 38 x 19; Le Beump, 15 x 13; Promised Land, 51 x 26.
Herman Guetersloh’s baskets emphasize form and color rather than function. “My primary concern is constructing sculptural forms that use colors in an array of abstract patterns,” he says. “I choose the patterns to enhance the form as it develops. Each basket must be unique. I am continually pursuing the ultimate form, re-evaluating my concept with every piece.”
Guetersloh’s work has evolved from simple, single-walled, traditional baskets using natural reeds to the vibrantly colored, double-walled works he has become known for (his baskets were included in the 1997 Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC, one of the most prestigious exhibitions of fine crafts in the country). He mixes his own colors and dyes the reeds by hand, and his pieces range from 6 inches to 6 feet tall.
A native of West Texas, Guetersloh moved to Houston to attend Rice University and received a master’s degree in structural engineering in 1974. After graduation, though, “the shock of not having homework anymore led me to focus on developing other interests,” he says. He began making
Carnival, double-walled basket, 10 x 2
baskets in his free time and soon discovered that he had a certain talent for it. “As a self-taught artist,” he says, “I find that each new piece is an experiment.” —KB
Guetersloh is represented by Del Mano Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Pilié, Houston, TX; and the American Craft Museum Gift Shop, New York, NY. His work is on view at the Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, CT, through December 24 and at the Appalachian Center for Crafts, Smithville, TN, from January 11 through March 6.