Friday, August 26, 2011

I am an Artist and very proud of all my "cakes" !

I have seen a lot of discussions lately about what "Metal Clay" is for some metalsmithing people and I am surprised to see how much misinformation they have about this innovative material.
I understand their lack of knowledge, and those who tried it and said it was a mess, and it does not work. Well, I have some news for you; you did not work with the clay the right way.

I respect everybody's opinion but I think there is a point where we need to be careful in how we talk about people who have chosen to work with metal clay, we can express our thinking without being rude and without insulting.
I have been called lots of names because of my ethnicity but I never thought I will be called "names" because of the medium or material I choose to create some of my work.

One of the latest names I saw was "Cake Decorator", people who work with metal clay are consider to be that by some.
I am okay with the name, I LOVE CAKES !!!
Other people feel we are "pretending to BE" metalsmiths.
We are not pretending to be "Anything", we are just people who have chosen to work with Metal Clay and create art. We are not "cake decorators", "metalsmiths", etc. We are just Artists that are open to experiment with new materials and we are always willing to learn new techniques.

I always encourage my students to learn how to solder and fabricate pieces because it will benefit their own metal clay work.

I started my journey in the art by learning metalsmithing, it was my wonderful and talented teacher -Claire Holliday- who introduced me to this novel material, metal clay, that Claire used to create some of her work. 
One of Claire's metal clay pieces was featured in the front cover of the Metalsmith magazine, a publication of the Society of North American Goldsmiths.
Sea Seed No. 1 (Brooch)
©2005 Claire Holliday
Fine Silver
Photo: Dean Powell

In 2010 I had a wonderful opportunity to show my work (not exclusively metal clay) to other talented and renowned metalsmith artists, among them, Thomas Mann. Thomas was so intrigued and interested that traded one of his pieces for one of mine.I was honored to do a trade with him !
Thomas visiting my table and looking at my work.

Another fascinating and mind opening experience that helped me expand my creativity and techniques, was when I had the pleasure to participate in a workshop and lecture by Robert Ebendorf at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas.
What I learned from Bob gave me a new dimension to create, incorporating traditional metalsmith  fabrication techniques with the distinctive style promoted by Bob's work but keeping my own creative voice and designs.
In case you don't know, Bob was one of the founding members of the Society of North American Goldsmiths and an inductee of the National Metalsmiths Hall of Fame.

During the workshop, when Bob saw one of my hand sculpted copper clay trees of life, he suggested to me to create a piece using what I learned from him and using the tree of life as the center component.

This piece was later featured in the front cover of the Metal Clay Artist Magazine, and many other publications.

I really want to give thanks to a lot of my metalsmiths friends and colleagues that are open to see beyond the material. I have learn a lot from all of you. 

Keep learning, keep experimenting, keep creating !

Lorena Angulo


  1. Well said! I too am a metalsmith of 30 years and have recently started working in metal clay with much the same reaction from the traditional jewelers. They need to look at it from a new aspect. In a few hours you can make a prototype in fine silver, and then make a mold of it for production! What would take several days now takes a few hours!

  2. And we have so much to learn from you my friend. Thank you for this fabulous post. I wish you'd put a link on Orchid to school the more narrow minded makers there.

  3. Thank-you, Lorena. That was beautifully shared.

  4. I am glad you like the post !
    I agree with you Janet !

    I think we have to keep creating our work with pride and keep educating people in our community about the great value of craftsmanship no matter what type of material or medium they choose.

  5. What a wonderful and much-needed post, Lorena! Thanks so much for choosing to publish it on the MCAM blog. I agree with Lora that it would be a great idea to add a link to this post on Ganoksin/Orchid.

  6. Thank you for this explanation - I'm new to metal clay and love this medium, I've seen the looks from metalsmiths when I've explained how I've made a piece, we can collaborate with all other mediums - and the more we do, the more we will open their eyes to the opportunities this wonderful material presents.

  7. Wonderful article, thank you Lorena!

  8. :O) Thanks Lorena, we are walking our talk!
    Catherine Witherell

  9. Great post Lorena. I have been following that discussion. I refuse to let ignorant people make me feel inferior about my art. I wonder if the impressionists had the same problem with the realists

  10. Great article Lorena. I wonder if stoneage man reacted to the early metalsmith the way "Fine Jewellers" react to "Contemporary Jewellers and Artisan Jewellers". Perhaps they are worried that we might be become more popular.

    Art/Craft doesn't stand still, it is continually re-inventing, building and educating.

    I have to say that the early work of a lot of metal clay artisans did leave a lot to be desire, but over the years a very high standard of work has evolved.

    So, Metal Clay Artisans keep promoting your work as being as high a standard as a traditional metalsmith.

  11. Very well put. Lorena! There is no good or bad medium...there is just great or poorly executed art.

  12. THIS POST IS FROM HOLLY GAGE, she was unable to post it and I am happy to do it for her.

    "Lorena, great article!
    It is wonderful you have gotten a chance to work with metal smiths who respect your work and see the possible synergy between Metal Clay and Metal Smithing.

    I am however disappointed in those that mingle in our community trying to capture the Metal Clay pocketbook, but have never touched metal clay and show no respect for what we are doing by putting down our techniques. It is one thing to try to help Metal Clay artists expand their knowledge base with the addition of metal smith techniques, but it is quite another to dismiss the techniques as being less valuable. I think it is wise for us to be open to the experience of creating with what ever material which helps us communicate our artist ideas. Metal Clay is different and diverse -- this is a good thing not to be watered down by rhetoric.
    Signed a trained metal smith and proud Metal Clay artist "
    Holly Gage

  13. Lorena, very well said! Thank you for this post. :-)

  14. I think the material is less important then the Art created. There are things you can do with the metal clay that are not possible with metalsmithing and vice versa. I combine the mediums. I think part of the problem is the poor name of Metal clay. It is actually a very high tech product but when people think of clay they think of mud.
    I think as it is around longer and more great work is produced it will gain more acceptance. Not that I care. I just want to create art.
    Thank you for the post.

  15. Wow... I didn't know that there were something called Metal Clay, I think I will take a closer look of it and see if I can get it done here in Denmark. I am impressed. You made such a lovely things, thank you for sharing
    Kind regards

  16. There are always people who are so absorbed in their self-importance that anything that somehow challenges their perceptions on how things are and can be done, or their position in a perceived pecking order that somehow the new and different threatens them. I will only ever be a member of a group that welcomes, values and respects everyone - the rest are a waste of time.

  17. You should be proud - your work is wonderful and as beautiful as you are.

    Enjoyed to be here,
    ♥ Manuela

  18. Thanks everyone !!! ;o)
    I am very proud of my work and the material I use to create some of it.
    As I said before, we have to keep on creating and promoting good craftsmanship in any material we choose to play with.
    Thanks for visiting and posting a comment. I love to read your feedback.

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