The countdown continues…we’re just a couple of weeks away from recognizing the winners of the 2013 Saul Bell Design Award competition at JCK Las Vegas. These last few weeks, The Studio has featured past winners of the annual jewelry design competition, including Chihiro Makio, Thomas Dailing and Marina Babić. Today, we’re catching up with metal clay artist and two-time winner Gordon K. Uyehara.
I spent Thanksgiving, 2008, with my husband on the island of Oahu. After a day of sightseeing along the North Shore, we headed south and stumbled across a shopping district and a quaint jewelry boutique. Inside, I recognized some BRONZclay™ work and asked the designer if she had heard of Honolulu metal clay artist Gordon Uyehara. “Yes!” she beamed, “Gordon taught me how to use metal clay…he’s so wonderful!”
What can I say? I get a kick out of these experiences, especially when I’m more than 3,000 miles away from Rio.
Living in Hawaii kept him from attending the annual awards gala, so we’ve never had the pleasure of meeting this soft-spoken, creative artist face-to-face (although both times I only half-jokingly suggested we take the gala to him).
But from across the Pacific, Gordon still shares the work he’s brought to life and his breathtaking surroundings with his Facebook friends and fans. And although every time he posts his latest muse (unusual critters, luscious plant life, water/earth/sky panoramas) I get a pang of the travel bug, I can’t help but thank this artist for sharing his inspirations from his corner of the earth with other artists in their creative corners.
I recently caught up with Gordon to see what he’s been up to.
Shelby Chant: What techniques have you been trying out lately? What’s on your bench right now?
Gordon K. Uyehara: I’ve been focusing on creating sculptural pieces. I’d like to try using wire or screen scaffolding as internal support structures. I have silver and bronze work on my work table.
SC: How exactly did you become a jewelry designer?
GKU: I don’t really consider myself a jewelry designer. Although, I do make wearable work. I was interested in trying silver metal clay and I did. I got hooked on it as a method of expression.
SC: How has your work changed over the years? Which pieces are you most proud of?
GKU: It has become more dimensional, sculptural, and slightly larger. It’s a process, so it is difficult for me to think about being proud of anything. I like certain parts of pieces. Like the tentacles on “Orthoceras,” the bones on “Cretaceous Box” and the balance of “Humpback Whale.”
SC: How do your remarkable surroundings influence your work?
GKU: A lot of my work is nature themed. Nature is the best designer, so I’m always looking at the lines and the interaction of shapes, patterns, and textures. Here I have access to a wide variety of flora, fauna, and landscape. The great weather surely helps the mood.
(Check out the Gordon Uyehara Dynasty Stamp sheet “Funky Fauna”…look familiar?)
SC: Any other artistic expression you’ve been indulging?
GKU: I’m landscaping my front yard with gravel and succulents. There’s definitely a major physical element to it!
SC: What has creating pieces for competition done for you as a designer?
GKU: I think creating pieces for competitions makes you push yourself harder, sometimes into places you wouldn’t normally go.
SC: What keeps you creative and creating?
GKU: My mind keeps me creative, I envision things and I wonder if I should create it. I don’t have to keep it going, it drives itself. The wheels are always turning. I just allow it. I like creating things that only existed in my imagination and then sharing them.
“As an artist, the best thing you can do is wake up dreaming.” –Gordon K. Uyehara
So share with us, show us, what muse is outside your studio door?