Each year, the Ganoksin Project hosts a raffle fundraiser that supports the jewelry and metal arts industry worldwide. Rio Grande values Ganoksin’s contribution to the industry and we show our support of their mission by offering two $5,000 Rio Grande shopping sprees as prizes. All raffle proceeds go directly to support Ganoksin Project and Orchid, a jewelry industry forum which supports the exchange of free information for all.
Marcia Weaver of Walnut Creek, CA was one of two Ganoksin raffle winners this year and I recently contacted her to find out a little about Marcia–Ganoksin supporter and lucky winner!
Molly T. Bell: Tell us a little about your history and what led you to jewelry making.
Marcia Weaver: I am a metalsmith—with a past. A lot of past. The first 17 years of it were spent in Southern New Mexico, the next four at the University of Arizona, and the remainder in California. None of my education included metalsmithing or art.
I taught elementary school, opened a couple of little stores, consulted in business training and development, and was an adjunct professor for management development. I raised two children and have four grown granddaughters. Now I’m playing with fire, metal and hammers and totally enjoying myself.
I strive to infuse some of that joy and fascination into each piece of jewelry that goes out to my customers. We all need more moments of joy.
MTB: How do you approach design? Share something about your creative process.
MW: I am a voracious reader of metalwork publications and websites, so I’m sure that every piece I see in these and on the people with whom I come in contact remains in my subconscious. I think my design approach is a version of “chaos theory” meaning that I often work on many things at the same time with lots of pieces at different stages. I might take something from each piece and create an entirely new piece.
Most of my inspiration comes from the materials: silver, gold, and copper when touched by fire and hammers, and the stones—the beautiful, natural stones.
MTB: Since natural stones play such a big role in your creations, can you tell us about a stone that really speaks to you?
MW: That’s an interesting question because sometimes I feel so close to the materials, it does seem that they tell me how to proceed. I have many stones waiting to speak but one I love, in particular, is a gorgeous triangle-shaped jasper with colors that go from shades of green to brownish orange to cream.
MTB: What is your favorite creation to date?
MW: The fossils in this pendant are thousands of years old and are set in oxidized sterling and 14K gold-fill. The larger stone is ammonite and the small stone is fossilized coral. Everyone—really, everyone—who has seen it has gasped, “Oh!” Some have said it is stunning. It began with the creation of three separate, yet related, pieces.
This piece looks ancient and handmade. And, if I do say so myself, it is quite wonderful!
MTB: Have you had any instructors who have been instrumental to your growth?
MW: I began with beading and then took a one-day silver-fusing course with Steven James. In his class I became fascinated by fusing silver.
We are fortunate in Walnut Creek to have an exceptional Civic Arts Education program, which offers classes year round. Students come from all over the East Bay to take these classes from excellent instructors. Our jewelry fabrication classes are always full. The jewelry instructor is Karen Ehrhardt, an accomplished jewelry artist herself and an instructor with extraordinary patience.
MTB: Tell me what metalsmiths you admire.
MW: Charles Lewton-Brain is one since I am fascinated by fold forming and because I won this raffle by purchasing his book on the Ganoksin website! Others would include Lexi Erickson because I read everything she writes in Lapidary Journal and would include my friend and instructor Karen Ehrhardt, also. These artists all amaze me with their skill.
At the top of this list is Harold O’Connor whose Surface Embellishment class I was privileged to attend the last week of June during Idyllwild Metals Week in Southern California. Being in his class and having daily access to his skill was the best possible metalsmithing experience I could imagine. I expect my work to show growth as a result of this exposure. If you’d like to read more about my Idyllwild experience, I shared a more detailed account and pictures on my blog.
The Metals Week participants also had some access to five other outstanding artist/instructors which created an environment of total immersion in metal arts. That, along with clean air, tall trees, no television, and very little cell phone service provided a perfect atmosphere for creative renewal.
MTB: That sounds lovely! Can you share a favorite bit of advice you gleaned from your time there?
MW: “Firescale is my friend”—Harold O’Connor. This was a freeing thing for me to hear from such an accomplished artist. I have always resisted highly polishing most pieces because I just don’t like the appearance. I knew I was in the right place when Harold said that.
MTB: What tools/supplies have you bought or do you plan to buy with your Ganoksin Rio Grande gift certificate?
MW: I purchased many useful tools from Rio previous to winning the raffle but now I am selecting some special tools that will really allow me to expand my skills. I’m fascinated with beautiful Fretz hammers and have just purchased my first forming stakes along with my first flexshaft.
The thing that no one tells you when you begin metalsmithing is that you can purchase good tools that are easier on your body than cheap tools. A well-balanced hammer with a great handle and a flexshaft are worth the investment!
MTB: How do you market your work?
MW: I have an Etsy shop called “Fused n Twisted” that’s a lot of fun and my earnings allow me to replenish my supplies on a regular basis. It’s fun to list an item and see what response I get. I enjoy the business side of the shop also and the immediate contact with my customers on a personal level. I’m able to enjoy that without the huge financial expense of a brick and mortar shop.
I would love to have you visit my blog: www.fusedntwisted.blogspot.com. Visitors’ comments and suggestions are welcome.