People ask me all the time where I learned to knit and crochet with wire. Well, Joan Dulla was my teacher! I volunteered to be Joan’s helper one week at Touchstone Center for Crafts. I learned so much! I was able to catch up with Joan at the American Craft Council Show in February and she agreed to be my featured artist this month.
Describe your work and/or studio process.
I crochet fine wire, (fine silver, 18K gold, niobium and color copper wire ) into jewelry and sculptures. I make rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, collars, cuff links and do commissions.
How has it been for you as a metalsmith working with a traditional textile construction technique?
I started taking classes as a metalsmith in 1986. I was making pendants and friends were telling me that I needed to make handmade chains for my pieces. Traditional ways to make handmade chains are VERY labor intensive and not something I could do out of a studio. An old friend taught me how to use a crochet hook and a wooden skewer to “crochet” a chain. It was VERY difficult and my fingers were bleeding and my hands hurt after a very short time. And I had only made about an inch of chain. I knew there had to be a better way. Having made a sweater when I was 16 (and not a very pretty one either!!!) I knew that knitting stitch and purling were opposites. So, I played with the stitch my metalsmith friend has shown me, and magic happened. Once I got going, I could make a chain in about 3 hours, which is still expensive, but a lot less than anything I had ever done before.
Then I started playing with opening the tube (chain) up and making larger necklaces using pearls. This is the first award that I won with the 18K gold and 3mm and 10 mm pearls. It was a Niche Award Finalist and Won the Lapidary Joural’s Best of Competition in 2001. I figured I was on to something. I play with the process some more, and have made beads, of all shapes and sizes, bracelets using the flat stitch and sculptures using all of the above.
In Recreating Myself, I used my toes as my form by making long sided beads, and crocheted them together using the flat stitch. The remarkable thing about this stitch is its ability to create a skeleton and a sturdy form i.e- Emily’s Fine sculpture which is a
life-size human spinal column. And I am still learning about this process, as I figured out this February how to make a Heart shape. It is so exciting!!!
I love my new series using money. I started about two years ago making purses, as I had customers who collected them. I made “Pretty Penny,” <“Dime Bag”, Nickel Bag”. Change Purse, when I realized that the weight that I was carrying around to shows had gone up significantly. So I decide to try using shredded money. I had a knee replacement last March and was on all kinds of drugs. Not the time to use a torch or hammer. So I sat happily in my chair, on my drugs and make millions of beads out of shredded money. I have made since coming off of the drugs :>) several more pieces in this series: Pot O’Money, ( a tea pot ) Money Collar, Bracelet, Ring, Necklace, Money Bag-x2 and am really having a blast.
What are your thoughts on Art, Craft, AltCraft/Indie Craft as categories or definitions in general and as they pertain to your work?
Art comes from some place deep inside us, and we need to nurture that more in our children. I find in the college classes that I teach and a lot of people have never touch pastels, or graphite, or paints of any kind. I think this is horrible as Art is a way to find out about your inner workings and how to express yourself. My students are so afraid of criticism and are locked into thinking that they possess no artistic talent. They leave with portfolios of beautiful things that they never believed that they could do. We need to bring more art back into the classroom for students who may not succeed at first with the usual ABC’s but explode when they are given a paintbrush, or pastel. And as for Alt- craft…. I believe that ART is ART whether it is in a museum or on the wall in the classroom. It comes from the heart– it is art!
Where can people find your work?
I do shows on both coasts, ACC Baltimore, and San Francisco, Contemporary Craft Market in Santa Monica, Washington Craft Show, Philadelphia Craft Show etc. The best way to find me is to go to my website (www.joandulla.com) and I have listed all the coming attractions.
I also have a web presence on Etsy at http://www.joan963.etsy.com