Alchimia: Can you tell us what is the core of your teaching at Alchimia?

Marzia Rossi: The aspect that is most valued in the courses we propose, in my opinion, is the discovering and enhancing of the essence of the materials that are chosen each time. Trying to understand through tactile research, the weight, the very nature of the material we use, for example if it is natural or synthetic, or how it can be manipulated.

Metal, of course, is the material we use most, but even beginner students learn immediately that you can use various types of metal and each of them wants and has to be treated in a different manner. It is very important to choose the most suitable one in relation to what it is one wants to accomplish.

Daniela Boieri: The programs are tailored on the necessities and interets of the students. In the case of beginners we teach them how to familiarize with their creativity and with the tools that we use in the field. With professionals, we try to give new inputs to develop and challenge further their work.

Alchimia: What techniques or pedagogical methodologies do you adopt?

Marzia Rossi: We try to teach how many ways there are to wear a jewel; what feeling it should give, because it always is a very personal choice whether it is a more classic or completely experimental type of jewellery.

The process of “making ” a jewel in our courses is definitely practice-based, but it is indeed a creative process, where final objects are achived only via trials and experiments.

Even in the case of more technical courses it is important to understand, by talking to each student, what kind of project they want to accomplish: a series of pieces with a common theme/concept or a few unique very precious pieces require different choices.

Daniela Boieri: In the case of beginners we would start, for example, with the most simple welds, designing and building a necklace and then move on to more complex forms is the case of a box-ring …Or, if they are interested in the closure of the stones, we teach them to make a ring with cabochon cut stone, which is the first approach to this type of technique. In the process of realization of each piece we also examine aspects relating to things such as portability, weight, etc ..Typically in two weeks we get to finish at least three pieces (necklace, ring, brooch / earring).

 

Alchimia: Who are your students? Can you tell us what kind of people and professionals take part in your workshops?

Marzia Rossi: The versatility of the courses, which aims to respond to interests and needs that are different and quite unique every time, leads to a very interesting and heterogeneous type of participants, coming from all parts of the world. Most of the students that land on the benches of the Intensive Courses are looking for experiencing something new: we have people who were doing completely different jobs and have decided to now think with and through their hands; others are already working or studying as goldsmiths, but are curious to try new methods or others who arrive with many doubts and questions accumulated over time. And here, we try to answer or at least to offer our expertise to support them, and the beauty of it is that when you mix different experiences something new always comes out. This is why the dialogue between teacher and student and also between the students themselves never becomes an end in itself but rather always a good starting point.

Daniela Boieri: There are students of all types …Mostly it is women between 20 and 70 years old. There are those who approach jewellery for the first time to see if it is a type of work that they would like or not; those who already own workshops but want to specialize in some particular technique, those who want to discover and work with materials other than metal…

Daniela Boieri graduated in jewellery, costume design and fashion at the University of Florence in 2001 and specialised in contemporary jewellery in Alchimia from 2004 to 2007. She works as an independent jewellery artist, designer and teacher. She loves metal and its secrets as colourings and patinations, adding and joining, engraving and etching. Her jewellery is present internationally in various galleries and museums.

Marzia Rossi graduated in Interior Design in Milan and studied at Alchimia Contemporary School in Florence. In her work prevails a research for a transparency of materials, even when opaque. Her jewellery pieces have been presented in numerous exhibitions and they are exposed in international art and design galleries. Her work is represented by Antonella Villanova Gallery, Florence and Charon Kransen, New York. She is currently teaching at Alchimia School and she is working in her atelier in Florence.

 

 

 

 

Everything is circular

1. Draw; Keep Lists; Collect images; Document

Drawing is a way of thinking; it is my daily ritual. Find what suits you best and generate ideas on a regular schedule. It is not so much about inspiration, but hard work. Sit down and something will come. Even if it is just one word or one line that day it can become a future source of inspiration. An image may catch your attention one random Tuesday and become the basis of a new body of work 3 years later.

Document your work – even if seems like the most boring of tasks on earth.   DO IT!

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‘Hangers’; 2014

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‘Untitled Project 2’; 2014

 

2. Explore new techniques and old techniques

In the ‘Jewelry World’, like the ‘Art World’ techniques seem to come into fashion in waves. It is easy to get caught up in these trends. But choose techniques for the right reasons – new techniques are always exciting, but I have found they are always the most interesting when placed in contrast with the old ways of doing things. Respect tradition by learning about it, but don’t forget to challenge and question.

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‘If it were not for the muck.kerchief I’ ; 2015

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‘If it were not for the muck.kerchief II’ ; 2015

 3. Be generous; collaborate

The most interesting and impressive people I have met have been generous with their time and knowledge. This is a quality I try to emulate. Engage with people in different fields and from different places. Knowledge is gold.   Conversations can lead to understanding and to unthinkable collaborations. These collaborations can help you see your work in a new way.

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‘Crit Room Detritus’; collaboration with Amy Wang; 2014

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‘Hanging Blanks’; 2016

 4. Float, but with a paddle

 I have never been someone with a plan, I prefer to wander or float. Understand the downsides of this and figure out how to overcome them.   Goals are important, but you cannot change your natural way of exploring the world. I have had to learn how to deal with the shortcoming of this method of living life. I bought a paddle – steer from time to time.

 

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‘Football Crop-Top’; 2016

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‘Sparkle Jacket’; 2016 (photo credit: Aliona Kustenova)

 5. Give errors a second chance

A step back and time away can help reframe your work and always helps me understand it in a different light. This is helpful when you feel lost. Embrace mistakes, but be critical. Creation is messy and a fertile mistake can lead you in directions you were never even aware existed.

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‘Houses’; table drawings for la douzaine; 2017

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‘Tracing Blank-ie’; 2013

 Everything is circular

 The more I do, the more I realize everything is circular. My path and choices have sometimes seemed unrelated. I am impulsive and dive head first into whatever interests me at the moment. But I am learning that maybe my impulses are perhaps less random then I first thought. Maybe they are subconscious and born from my core interests. Forging the same path over and over is OK. The treads will wear down the earth under your feet and a deeper circle will be etched away. This has taken me a while to figure out, so be patient and kind with yourself!

Never one for traditional paths, Nadège Roscoe-Rumjahn’s has followed a circuitous route through her educational journey. With a background in architecture from McGill University, she found herself drawn to the opposing scale of contemporary jewelry.  Diving head first, she attended Alchimia in Florence, Italy and in 2014, completed a master’s in fine arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art.  Her passion for architecture, fashion, objecthood and craft has led to an insatiable appetite for technique, as she continues to grow as a multi-media artist. Her primary focus is on the human form as she searches to express a moment where intimacy exists.

Nadege’s latest project ‘la douzaine’ is a play on a maker’s dozen.  Handmade, one-of-a-kind blankets, table linens, clothing and weavings are created for the discerning collector. Small batches and limited editions are the output of unique projects and collaborations, all nodding to a slowly fading textile industry.

It’s not easy to advice jewelry maker Carla Movia. Not easy because she mostly knows and plans everything before you were even asked. She does research, she studies possibilities. She knows what has preceded her and has very strong esthetic opinions on contemporary jewelry and its different threads. She reads, she sees a lot, and is very well informed. She is hungry of a particular type of knowledge, and she perfectly knows what she is looking for. Nomen Nescio, the exhibition coming out of her 2 years research during the MFA program at Alchimia, and essentially an installation of 300 brooches, shows exactly all of that.

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The pieces highlight a uniqueness amongst the mass, hence the decision to show them in grids was a very smart one. Instead of creating chaotic crowds of pieces shown throughout the space, this type of display setting gives the visitor the chance to really care and look for the details and the differences between them.

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Each piece came with its own “passport”: literally a sort of identity document for the pieces, giving information about them, such as their names, materials, leaving space to document their journeys and speak of their future owners. This gives the pieces a political tone, one that speaks of citizenship and sense of identity.

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As we always suggest at Alchimia: do make good edition pieces. Here you can see how several in fact were sold. Please note that this can be your little contribution to society: Carla decided to donate a percentage of the sales to Oxfam, a confederation of NGO’s working on the alleviation of global poverty.

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The exhibition was held in a very beautiful private space not far from the school. This is not the best choice in terms of audiences as of course this means the space itself won’t bring in a crowd. On the other hand the esthetic result has been just what Carla was looking for. In one way or the other we find ourselves almost always having to make some compromises.

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As always, and again and again, friends play a major role in setting up an exhibition. Be always sure to check their schedule, not only yours, when planning a date.

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The ornament is a very rich and complex cultural phenomenon. The need for decoration and ornamentation has always been an essential part of mankind, from the earliest civilizations until the present day. The ornament is present in every discipline of the Arts, and closely related to the world of jewellery, in which the need to decorate the body forms the main reason for its existence. A piece of jewellery is always an ornament, but an ornament is not always a piece of jewellery.

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The ornament can have a symbolic, aesthetic or social function since there is an intimate relation between ornaments and the way people express their life. Feelings of joy, lust and grieve are all materialized in ornaments. Although being attacked for the first time in history in the early 20th century by the architect Adolf Loos and by the philosophy of the modernists, the ornament clearly survived and has now proven to be a subject for contemporary developments in both Fine Art and Design.

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During the course the students will investigate the origin of the ornament, its meaning and full potency. The students will be encouraged to connect the world of jewellery with other disciplines, and to search for a relation between the past and the present. Through short exercises and assignments, both individual talks and group discussions the students will develop a personal and contemporary vision on the ornament which will have to result in finished pieces.

I strongly believe every student has to become aware of the relation between the mind, the heart and the belly during the creative process. To form a strong and personal vision, concentration and deepening is necessary. During the workshop the students will be challenged to go the whole way with an idea, to stretch it as far as it can go.

The workshop will take place from July 11 to 15, 2017.

For more information write to: info@alchimia.it

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Evert Nijland is a Dutch jewelry maker. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions world-wide, including in the Galerie Rob Koudijs, Galerie Louise Smit, Coda museum, Gorkums Museum, Textielmuseum and Stedelijk Museum (NL), Galerie Spektrum and Cranach Haus, Museum fur Kunst und Gew,  Internationale Handwerksmesse ‘Schmuck’(DE), Oratorio di San Rocco (IT), Cheongju International Craft Biennale (KR), Fondation Bernardaud (FR), MAD Museum (USA), Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) among many more. He is the recipient of several awards among the many the Dutch Design Prizes and The Sotheby’s Award and his work has been acquired by public collections such as the Nationaal Zilvermuseum, Nederlands Textielmuseum, MMK Museum, Coda Museum and Stedelijk Museum (NL), Mima, Middlesbrough Intitute of Modern Art and Victoria & Albert Museum (UK), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Arts and Design, New York and the Mint Museum of Crafts & Design, Charlotte NC (USA).

 

 

written by Aniya Dunkley

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Akis Goumas, bracelet “shell”, forged silver, wires Flickr, Bracelets Cuffs Bangles, 2015

Just before the Winter holidays, the second-year MFA students of Alchimia participated in a three-day workshop in Anticlastic Raising (a technique of metal forming whereby a sheet of metal is formed directly with a hammer on a sinusodial – snakelike – stake) based on ancient Greek concepts and techniques.  The course was taught by Akis Goumas, a Greek jewelry designer by trade who also works with a team of archeologists studying and researching prehistoric metal technology in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.  Akis, who has been designing and making jewelry for over 35 years, emphasizes the importance of understanding the journey a piece of jewelry takes through the process of its making. He believes strongly in the power of our rational and logical thinking, in the idea that we all have the ability to teach ourselves how to make things through a careful consideration of the materials we already have at our disposal and what our desires for an object are.

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Over the three days, students learned how to design and create tools made of raw wood and metal, and then realize three (or more) anticlastic pieces of jewelry, ranging in size and dimension. This was meant to guide the students towards an understanding of the proper functions and uses of the tools they use, and how to personalize and shape them in relation to both themselves and the objects they imagine to create.

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Each student walked away with its own specially-designed hammer, etching pens and tweezers, hammering techniques, and memorable pieces of jewelry.  It was a lot of hard work, but Akis was an excellent guide, eternally patient and very attentive to everyone.  His warm spirit and drive kept the students going at a steady pace and eager to learn more each day.  He left a lasting impression on everyone and we all look forward to having him back again some time soon.

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  1. ALWAYS LOOK FOR A NEW CHALLENGE IN ORDER TO KEEP IMPROVING

I think that challenging yourself continuously is very important. You can only move forward, if you force yourself to learn new things. If you keep acting only in your comfort zone, you will stay at the same point constantly.

Wether it is on a general professional or personal level, or just a single object I am working on – I always try to find new techniques or materials to explore. Some people want to focus on one same material or technique, which is also fine. The most important thing for me however is not to stop at the same point each time. Try to continue to surprise yourself, to go further than what you have imagined and find new, and different ways to do and to think.

In my latest series Diplopia I have used various techniques including 3D printing for the first time. It offered a complete new way of working to me. I think it is important to be open to a broad spectrum of techniques and materials, from traditional ones to new technologies. Be open to adapt to new opportunities in order to seize all the possibilities you are offered.

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2. HAVE A DREAM/A GOAL/A PLAN

 

 I believe that if you have a goal and you really want to achieve something, it is important that you frame it for yourself. If you keep seeing it clear in front of you, your whole body and mind will move towards it. Every decision and every move, leads you closer to your goal.

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3. BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING!

Don´t hesitate to participate or apply because you think you are not experienced enough, or are too anxious about the possibility of failing. It is very tough to be self-confident in the art field. Especially as art jewelers, when we sometimes seem to float in an area between design, arts and crafts. Thus, it is such a satisfaction to achieve something that you did not think you could do. Those moments keep you going and help you to move on, so strive for them.

This year I won the “Eligius-Schmuckpreis 2016”. When I decided to apply I really did not have high hopes to get chosen, since I had just finished my studies and moved to Vienna a few months earlier. I decided to give it a shot anyway since it can´t hurt. Eventually I won the prize, which was an amazing opportunity and honor. I realized that I was wrong in not believing in my chances. We can always find reasons not to do things, but those will keep us from engaging in great possibilities and if we just try, we might be proven wrong. And also: failing is a learning experience too!

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4. HAVE HIGH AIMS

 

Don´t limit yourself and your ideas. At first, for every idea and every plan you should aim as high as you can. Let your ideas and thoughts develop free from limitations. Step by step you can try to find solutions for realizing them or for solving the problems or for finding other, easier ways to get where you want to.

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5. BE OPEN AND COURAGEOUS FOR NEW POSSIBILITIES

 

Have a plan, a dream, but don´t stick to it irrevocably. Often you need to change, adjust or adapt your plans a little. Maybe this will lead to steps that you did not plan in advance, but they might just lead you to another route on the way to your goal. If there are chances, you have to catch them.

At the beginning of my educational path as a jeweler I could not have imagined where my way would lead. I had not planned on doing my bachelors in Florence and I never thought I would complete my masters degree in the US. I am incredibly happy that I took the chances as they came, as those where the most valuable experiences of my whole life.

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6. DISAPPOINTMENTS ARE PART OF THE GAME

In my second year of grad school one of my art professors told me about his “folder of rejections”. It was a huge, stuffed folder that he kept. Over the years he collected every letter of refusal he received and put it in this folder. He is a successful artist today, but he assured me that for each time he got accepted for an exhibition or a job, he probably got rejected 10 times or more. Sometimes it can be very hard to take a rejection or a failure. You start questioning everything, asking yourself why you didn’t choose another career and worry that all your hard work ends in despair. Don´t be afraid to fail, don´t let it bring you down, there will be a next time and it will be worth it!

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7. HAVE FUN!

The best way to produce good work is to enjoy doing it. It will be easy for you to work hard and a lot if it doesn´t just feel like work. This works best if you can create a surrounding that comforts you. Make yourself a home in your studio and work close to people you like! I have always shared my studio with other artists. It was the best way to stay motivated when I got lost in my process, or when I was tired. I can ask my mates for suggestions and I even learn while trying to help them. If you talk, discuss, dream and phantasize together, your ideas will float and flourish in a way you can never achieve if you just sit by yourself. It is fun to work until late if you can have little breaks together and encourage each other to go on for one more hour.

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8. JOIN FORCES

Since April 2016 I am a Member of Atelier Stoss im Himmel. We are 8 artists that share a workspace and have a common exhibition space, where we have a showroom and organize shows. It is a beautiful space, equipped with all the tools we need to work and the possibility to split duties and responsibilities. None of us could afford anything close to this by themselves and of course, it is much more fun together.

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Lena Grabher is a Vienna-based contemporary jeweler. She started her education in Vienna where she accomplished her apprenticeship examination as a goldsmith. She completed her BFA degree in Florence at ALCHIMIA contemporary jewelry school in 2013, to continue her studies in Metals at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she received her MFA in May 2015. Since 2016 she is a Member of Atelier STOSSimHIMMEL and teaches gold and silversmithing techniques at the Wiener Goldschmiedelehrgang. Lena has developed an experimental way of working that is driven by an urge to discover and explore the subject of jewelry on many levels. Her latest work is entitled DIPLOPIA and was currently awarded with the prestigious Eligius – Schmuckpreis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Polene, 2015, wood.

Weapons of Perfection, Lilian Mattuschka’s show in Florence and her graduate project for her MFA with Alchimia, was finely curated. It took place at Chiasso Perduto, an exhibition space in Florence open to different disciplines.

Here are a few things we have learned from her exhibition.

If you have a very characterized space, clean it as much as possible of any unnecessary element and play and relate to its architecture. Using a minimum amount of outsourced material (pedestals or anything of the like) will create a more organic relation between your pieces and the architecture.

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Exhibithion view.

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Exhibition view.

When your collection has a rhythm, one of those rhythms that contribute to creating a narrative, do try to emphasize it and give it a form. The legibility of your artistic intentions will be enriched by it.

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Exhibition view.

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Handle, 2016, wood.

Play with your business card or any other additional element of the show. Thinking artistically or curatorially about every aspect of the exhibition is paramount if you want to seduce your audience (and above all potential client).

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Business-cards as smile-mask.

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Exhibithion view.

If your work has a certain variety, do support that with different display methods. Here, video alternates with jewelry, the latter presented in many ways that followed form. “Some were shown in nicchie, others just on the wall, hanging from the ceiling with transparent fill, some were flying, some others were shown in boxes similar to those you would use to store weapons. Also the videos were all shown in different ways: on a computer screen, projected on a mapped wall, or in a little framed iPad. The exhibition was really playing with opposites, the pieces that were speaking of impositions or encourage physical corrections were the ones flying; they seemed like birds, or angels”.

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Silenziatore, 2016, video coming along a jewelry piece by the same title. Made in collaboration with Piero Aricó.

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Weapons of Perfection, 2016, realized in collabiration with Luca Maoceri. Performers: Giulietta Evans, Andrea Bertocci, Flavia Bardelloni, Benedetta Rustici, Piero Aricó and Viola Mattuschka.

Give a lot of thought to the way you use light. Lilian here decided to work with very low lights, to emphasize the material qualities of the wood and dramatize the space by playing with their shadows.

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Die Armee, 2016, installation, wood.

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Die Armee, 2016, installation, wood.

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Polene, 2015, wood.

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Smile, 2016, plexiglass-wood-iron.

Remember to create a space for reading, drinking and talking outside of the exhibition (or at least so in winter) if you want the exhibition to be a more silent space of contemplation.

And do mind: openings are for quick chats, while it is the following days that more engaged conversations can happen. So be there for the duration of the show if you can!

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Exhibition view.

Article originally posted at Alchimia – How to Make an Exhibition (in Florence) #2 Lillian Mattuschka