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By Ettagale Blauer

The Phenomenon of Studio Goldsmithing whilst the background of paintings within the Eighties is written, a lot of will probably be etched in gold. this can be the time of the modern goldsmith, an artist who chooses to paintings in important metals instead of oils or marble. The modern jeweler-as-artist has only in the near past develop into a re­ cognized strength. With infrequent exceptions, the full box is little greater than thirty years previous. however it is barely in the prior fifteen years that those jewelers have entered the jewellery mainstream. The phenomenon of latest goldsmithing embraces an eclectic crew of artists, each one with a distinct imaginative and prescient, every one taking a according to­ sonal route to jewellery generating. they've got as little dating to the common, industrially produced jewellery as a champagne maker has to a bottler of orange soda. They technique a section of artwork, no longer a bit of steel. The paintings is own and an ideal expression of the "back to the land" circulation that spawned it. lots of those goldsmiths have been having a look now not in basic terms for how to make a residing yet for how to make a lifestyles that was once invaluable of residing. operating a enterprise whereas attempting to stay an inventive metalsmith even as is the continued problem. The jeweler-artists have solved or resolved those usually conflicting wishes in a little other ways and in a gorgeous number of innovations and kinds. Their meth­ ods, their progress, and their paintings are mentioned here.

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Their enthusiasm for titanium epitomizes the process and the problem. This space-age metal, dull gray in its natural state, can be electrolytically charged to achieve a range of vivid jewel tones: purple, green, blue, red. It's cheap, it's light in weight, and when used with integrity it results in totally new, exciting, and affordable jewelry. When it was fresh, it was special. And then came the flood. Like gold or silver, the basic building blocks of the jeweler's profession, titanium without artistry is boring.

Yet those who look to the ACE shows to uphold a standard of craftsmanship find themselves increasingly surrounded by lesser work. And even given the changing level of products offered, they must still depend on a jury to determine whether they will have a venue in which to offer work each year. Has the jurying system succeeded in this formidable task? Although I have never juried a show, I have observed a typical jury at work, judging the jewelry entries for an ACE show. I found the process brutal.

The look of the show is itself a departure: uniform, elegant exhibit booths are provided by ACE and arranged in oblique rows, giving the sense of walking through a museum rather than a country fair. Some of the craftspeople for the first event, in 1987, were invited to participate by ACE; the others won spaces through the jury system. The cost of the event, three times that of a regional craft show, acts as its own, economic, jurying element. By no means does it keep out bad work, especially work that reveals a basic problem in the artist's eternal search for an individual statement.

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