As promised, we’re starting our Meet Real Artists series this week. We were delayed by the robust holiday season, but are now ready to move full steam ahead. The goal of this project is to look at the work and inspiration of active jewelry artists who are not only moving the creative ball forward, but also regularly marketing and selling their own work.
LISA ROSSITER – WROX design – CORVALIS, OREGON
In my mind, Oregon is an American Degobah – a natural, almost primordial wonderland full of contrasts and alarming beauty. Think scarlet red coral mushrooms growing ephemerally from a seabed of fallen pine needles. Think shear white peaks reflected perfectly true in still black lakes. Think my grandfather carving driftwood into turtles and dragon flies and otters and me.
It makes sense to me, then, that Oregon is the homeland of our first Real Artist – Lisa Rossiter of WROX design. After looking at hundreds of pieces of studio jewelry, with reddening eyes and a touch of cotton mouth, I came across one of Lisa’s cast rings on her blog. Its alien-tech shape stood out like a dandelion on a well-kept lawn. It refused to conform.
The chunky 13 gram sterling silver ring is lost wax cast. This is a jewelry production method in which the design is first carved in semi-hard wax. Once finished, the carved wax is placed in wet investment (think plaster) which then cures into a mold. The mold is kiln fired to burn off the wax (“lost wax”) and once flowing red, the molten medium metal (silver, gold, bronze, etc.) is poured into the negative space left behind (I always thought of it as being kind of like a fossil). After a brief settling, the entire mold is dumped in cold water where the investment sparkles away leaving the newly cast treasure attached firmly to its sprue.
The ring has a Nordic / Alien-Tech look to it that lends a sense of stability to an otherwise more whimsical piece —- Think Liquid Terminator meets Thor. It adds that little thrill to the hand that is sure to draw the attention, and envy, of those who see it. This is a one of a kind — but you can see Lisa’s other rings here.
It was shipped in a custom recycled kraft box bearing the WROX logo on the cover. As we say in almost every review, we love the artisan jeweler who takes the time and effort to include a gift box or pouch with items sent by mail. It makes the gift giving process all the more special.
Although the cast ring was the first thing to draw me to Lisa’s work, it was not the first piece we purchased. Initially we opted for a simple pair of Lisa’s “Bubble” earrings. I didn’t expect much from these earrings until they arrived and I put them under the loupe. Anyone who as ever worked with silver would have a keen appreciation for the technical expertise exhibited in the construction of these earrings. The solder points are so invisible that it appears as if the “bubbles” are being held together by magnetic force. Everything is filed smooth and presents masterfully. When an artisan puts this much time and effort into a small pair of affordable earrings – you can expect greatness across the entire range of work.
We had an opportunity to catch up with Lisa to get some insights into her inspirations, her life and her work. She’s called several places home – Los Angeles – London — New York City (my people!) – San Francisco – and of course, Degobah (Oregon). Lisa is a natural artist but she got her first “formal” training in a metal arts class at San Francisco College. Lisa was gracious enough to answer some of our specific questions:
HR: What jewelers and/or artists have inspired your work?
Lisa:That would be a very long list! Some favorite Jewelers off the top of my head are Roger Rimel, Antonio Pineda, Nina Mann, Luisa Bruni, Art Smith, Elisenda de Haro, Kate Bajic. I am constantly looking at jewelry and art and finding inspiration. I love to work with metal and stone, but my mom’s paintings, my daughter’s paintings, the music I’m listening to, usually modern jazz or something with a fantastic beat from Africa, all spark a fire in me. I also get inspiration from place. Right now I am close to nature and I feel trees and moss and mushrooms for shape and texture, but I also long for the city and sometimes want a lot of crowded angles in my designs.
HR: As an artist, do you ever have trouble parting with your pieces?
Lisa: Yes! When I first started selling I was so thrilled I didn’t think much about it. But one day about a year ago I sold a necklace I was really attached to. I started thinking about using more personal names after that. I decided that if I named a piece it would have more permanence for me. Like a baby that grows up and moves away, but is still a part of you.
HR: Have you ever worked in any other type of media?
LISA: I’ve tried and still try everything I can. I danced when I was young and I made movies most recently. I write a lot. I take pictures and draw even though I am not adept at either. I spend a lot of time with a 3 year old so it is very freeing to play at whatever medium is at hand and not have to worry about accomplishing anything. I love play-doh. It is a much more coherent design medium than drawing for me. I also make a lot of bread and soup. That is art here in Oregon…..
HR: Is your current collection reflective of past and future work? Or do your styles change year-to-year or season-to-season?
LISA: I am always changing, growing. That is what being an artist is all about for me. Everything I see influences me and everything I do influences me. I don’t think it’s linear though. I am feeling like making much simpler stuff now, probably partly because I am a busy mom. I am also very calm in my life right now and that shows in my work. Sometimes I am a storm though and that is fun too. Probably in the Spring I will get wild again.