03 5 / 2013
Interview with Artisan: Patty Schwegmann: Champaign, IL
Each piece in Patty Schwegmann’s line of contemporary jewelry is created with exactness and features a variety of clay glazing techniques. It is no surprise then to learn that Schwegmann worked in a microbiology lab and started her creative career as a potter. Combining creativity with discipline gives Schwegmann’s jewelry both playfulness, but also a level of precision.
In high school, Schwegmann’s art teacher encouraged her to pursue ceramics; setting up an independent study course because there were no pottery classes. At the same time, another teacher had a weekend workshop on glass beads and jewelry.
“It never dawned on me that I could have it [art] as something other than a hobby.”
So Schwegmann created jewelry in her free time and attended Purdue University majoring in genetics and microbiology. During her last semester, Schwegmann took a metals class and fell in love with it. Feeling the need to get a “regular job” Schwegmann went to work for a lab. After two years, Schwegmann took a leap and pursued a career in art.
“I didn’t feel like the lab was the place I was meant to be. I was going to try something else out. Try to figure out what I wanted to do.”
Schwegmann returned to her wheel throwing, working on glaze and surface techniques, all the while working her way back to jewelry. Patty Schwegmann began making jewelry from broken fragments of pottery, often from her husband’s ceramic work, artist Michael Schwegmann. Wanting more control over the process, she ultimately decided to make her own ceramic “stones”. In that way, she could revisit jewelry making, but also keep her hands in clay.
Using porcelain, Schwegmann’s jewelry takes on a soft cushion look, with an almost fabric like surface. Bringing her glazing knowledge to jewelry, Schwegmann uses inlay, sgraffito, and engobe- a type of slip application. Drawing on the clay before it is fired, the jewelry often features birds and cone flowers. Schwegmann explains her subject matter:
“We have gold finches that come into the garden and eat the cone flower seeds. I really like drawing them…Usually they have their little ones with them. The cone flower stalk is three feet high and the leaves are gone so there is only a round ball. The birds balance and the whole stalk bounces back and forth. They always look like they are having a good time. I know we try to apply emotions [to animals] but they don’t seem to be encumbered.”
One could argue that Patty Schwegmann finds a similar joy in creating jewelry.
“I am doing what I love, and that’s amazing. I have the freedom to make my own schedule.”
A schedule which involves 40 hours a week in the studio and almost 18-20 fine art shows a year. Schwegmann can also maintain this ambitious practice with lists.
“I have big master lists. I schedule what things I need to do every day. With traveling and all the shows, it can be stressful. I make big lists, then break them down and get things done each day. [I am] very disciplined.”
So eight years later, Schwegmann has no regrets about leaving her biology career to become a full time artist.
Meet Patty Schwegmann!
Trunk Show, Friday, May 10th, noon-4 pm
Illinois Artisans, Chicago.
Illinois Artisans, Chicago is featuring Patty Schwegmann in the exhibition “Drawings on Jewelry” Features Patty Schwegmann, May, 2013
Illinois Artisans, Chicago
100 W. Randolph Suite 2-200
Chicago, IL 60601
Photo Credit: Larry Sanders
05 4 / 2013
An Interview with Artisan: Pamela Biesen, Frankfort, IL
As Earth day approaches the phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle” starts popping up- reminding us to consume less. For Illinois Artisan Pam Biesen, recycling doesn’t become fashionable once a year. As Biesen sees it “I have always taken things apart and done them again. I was recycling before it was green. That never goes out of style.”
Jewelry artist Pam Biesen’s line of industrial chic jewelry revolves around re-imagining the everyday. Down to the button’s on our cloths or the contents of a 70’s factory, Biesen creates jewelry playing off the aesthetics of everyday objects and prompting exploration of their history.
Pam Biesen has been creating art since childhood, sewing at 5 years old and interested in taking things apart to see their functionality. In a moment of clarity while Biesen was in High School, she learned about Grandma Moses, a country lady who became an artist later in life. The story struck a chord with 15-year-old Biesen. “I knew I was going to be an artist later in life.” Biesen worked as a full time mom, still creating and crafting. Later, Biesen worked in memberships at the Field Museum. During her breaks Biesen studied the cases of Native American bead work. Emulating and working with the materials, Biesen recreated the technique and applied her very distinctive 50’s color preference.
Another frequently used material in Biesen’s work is the button, an everyday item but steeped in history and memory. Biesen explains that in the 1970’s there was a shift in clothing, and buttons weren’t as necessary. “But I hate the disposability of things. I look at it again.” So Biesen began creating jewelry with the buttons, acquiring a barrel of buttons from a 150-year old home which took her 10 years to sort and use. Biesen uses Bakelite buttons from the 50’s, bone buttons from underwear during the civil war era, and contemporary novelty buttons. The button jewelry provokes memories and emotions for Biesen, but also the wearers. A common response Biesen hears is “My mom collected buttons!” Biesen remembers her mother’s jar of buttons, as well as playing “button, button, who’s got the button? ” One of 7 children, this simple game was a cherished moment of playfulness in the bustle of family.
Just as buttons can evoke memories of saved jars or games, Bisen seeks out the aesthetic and history in other objects as well. In her newest collection, Biesen bought over 1,000 old factory bits, parts and pieces. Biesen is intrigued by the odd assortment of bakelite, fiber glass and wood pieces. “Why did they build a lathe and dyes for wooden screws? Why would this era need wooden washers?” Drilling into them Biesen has combined them with wire wrapping to create an industrial chic line of jewelry.
Jewelry artisan Pam Biesen creates truly one-of-a-kid pieces that evoke memory and prompt exploration of the history of everyday objects. So even as Earth day comes and goes, wearing the urban chic jewelry by Pam Biesen is always in fashion.
Pam Biesen’s work can be seen at Illinois Artisans, Chicago year round and next week at:
The Gardening Art Spree:
Thursday, April 11th &
Friday, April 12th
10 am - 3:30 pm
James R. Thompson Center Atrium
100 W. Randolph, Chicago
15 Juried Artisans display and demonstrate fine craft.
See a glimpse of all the featured artisans’ work: Here!
03 4 / 2013
An interview with Artisan: Gary Beaumont, Champaign, IL
The 10,000 hour-rule by Malcolm Gladwell is a bench mark often cited when trying a new skill. So what happens after an artisan puts in those hours? Ceramic artisan Gary Beaumont put in his hours while work another job and then in last 10 years turned to ceramics full time.
Guess what? It appears that practice really does make a difference. Beaumont brought up the bench mark while speaking with staff of the Illinois Artisans Program,
“I think I have reached 10,000 hours and things are jelling. I’m getting to the point I can think of something, make it, and it works… For artists is really is true, experience makes a difference. For something to look and feel right, but also works and is beautiful.”
Gary Beaumont taught and worked in communications and public relations at the University of Illinois for many years. During that time he began taking studio ceramic classes at the University. Trained in architecture, Beaumont found a new visual language in ceramics, and purchased a wheel and kiln. After the birth of his first child, Beaumont set aside the studio practice temporarily. After his children left the nest and retirement, Beaumont picked up where he left off. That was 10 years ago, and Beaumont dedicated himself to putting in his 10,000 hours.
Working in the studio on a daily basis, Beaumont developed a signature style. Beaumont cites the generosity and community of other potters he studies with— particularly Don Pilcher, Sally McMahon, and Michael Schwegmann. But Beaumont stressed the importance of taking in the information and inspiration from other sources, then making it his own style. Beaumont’s work found that distinction with mastering the crystalline glaze and clean functional forms.
“Glaze work is a lot of checking and experimentation. But the thing about crystalline glazes is that is it really finicky. You can put two pots thrown and glazed the same way in the kiln and get very different results. Every piece is unique.”
However, the patience pays off: “the pieces are bright and the glaze stands out because of the contrasting colors. It really pops on a wooden table.” That pop distinguishes Beaumont’s work.
Even after completing his 10,000 hours, Beaumont still pushes himself to try new glazes, including a lava glaze. His experience allows Beaumont to be creative. “I can image the different shapes and how the glaze will affect it. But also the other way around, find the piece that will show off a glaze.” Beaumont’s upcoming projects involve casting which allows work to be non-symmetrical. Juried into the Illinois Artisans Program in 2004, Beaumont’s work can be found at all three gallery locations.
This April, Gary Beaumont is part of the window exhibition “Tea for Two” at Illinois Artisans, Chicago. The exhibition features 15 Illinois Artisans who create tea pots, tea sets and service. Drop in and explore the social aspect of tea, served for two. Feature details and more images here.
12 3 / 2013
“Some people say I am lucky… because I always knew what I wanted to be. But it never ends, because when its what you are, you never stop.”
March Feature Artisan: Illinois Artisans, Chicago
Nina Weiss “Landscape Transition”
One of Nina Weiss’ first memories is standing on the Ramp at the Gueggenheim Museum in New York. From age 11 she took formal lessons and by 16 launched herself into college studies. “I was determined and focused. [My parents] didn’t really have much say in it.”
Weiss knew she was going to be a professional artist or classical clarinet player. In the end painting won out, because drawing didn’t feel like practice the way clarinet did. After junior year in high school, Weiss entered the Tyler School of Art with a focus in portraits. Weiss began bicycling out into coal country, a glimpse of her future career as a landscape artist.
Following this new subject matter, Weiss relocated for graduate school to the Midwest. “Truth is I felt blown away by the amount of space in the Midwest.” Weiss completed K-12 Art Education Certification and graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Weiss biked around the Midwest sketching in pastels. When a scene catches her eye for a painting, Weiss photographs the scene to then paint in the studio. “I get the strongest sense of freedom being out there, the solitude of it. I get a real rush when I see a beautiful landscape.”
After finishing graduate studies, Nina Weiss stayed in the Midwest, teaching and maintaining a studio practice. Weiss has worked in pastels, gouache, and currently oil paint and pencil. In her work, one can see hints of her love of German Expressionists, but also Van Gogh and Kandinsky.
“My work draws the viewer into a heightened vision of gesture and hue, depicting nature with colors that are intense, lush and dramatic. The work goes beyond traditional ideas of a green landscape.”
In addition to being a successful artist, Nina Weiss is a mother and dedicated teacher. Weiss teaches college art classes and leads a workshop through Europe in the summer.
Please join us this week to meet Nina Weiss and learn more about her vibrant work at the Spring Art Spree: Complete Event details here!
Highway 66 North/South Diptych, Oil on Canvas 30” X 60”
Spring Walk, Oil on Canvas 48” X 36”
Sunday Landscape, Oil on Canvas 24” X 48″
26 2 / 2013
The Illinois Artisans Program draws national and statewide attention to the exceptional fine craft and art in Illinois. By providing venues for the display and sales of one-of-a-kind work all made in Illinois, the program supports the local creative community. We would like to invite you to become part of this unique and growing program. The Illinois Artisans Program accepts new artisans twice a year through a competitive jury process, March 28th is the next deadline. Application here!
Consider becoming a juried Illinois Artisan today and become part of this exciting opportunity for local artists!
Juried artisans participate in:
- Gallery Stores: Chicago, Springfield and Southern Illinois
- Solo and group exhibitions
- Arts Sprees (indoor art fairs)
- Trunk shows
- Teach classes
Three not-for-profit venues operate under statutory authority of the Illinois State Museum Society to display and sell Illinois artisans work in over 26 media categories including:
- Artist Books
- Fiber Arts
- Forge Works
- Printing: Etching, Letterpress, Lithography
A jury of professionals and artists judge applications based on:
- Quality of craftsmanship
- Sensitivity in given use of media.
- General excellence of concept, design and execution.
- Originality or adherence to traditional design.
Requirements: To become a juried artist of the Artisans Program, an artist must live and work within the state. Their craft work must then be reviewed and accepted by a jury-panel chosen by the Program. Artists apply in a specific media category and the cost is $30 per application.
11 2 / 2013
As hearts pop-up everywhere for Valentine’s Day, artisan Betty Williams Carbol sees something completely different. In 1986 Carbol’s husband Thomas received the first ever heart transplant at Evanston Hospital. For Betty that surgery changed her perspective on hearts from a symmetric symbol of love, to a complex and mighty organ. Betty and Thomas Carbol helped start a transplant support group, calling themselves H.E.A.R.T.S- Hope, Enthusiasm and Recovery Through Support. The group still exists today.
An artist and educator, Carbol took her experience and applied it to her art practice. Carbol created the line of work “Image Du Coeur” pins, pendants and boxes all incorporating heart imagery or shapes. A portion of each sale goes back to the American Heart Association and American Transplant Association.
Although small, each piece Carbol creates is a study in design, balance and color. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Carbol created layered pieces using silk screens using patterns or natural imagery. While studying art Betty met her husband Thomas a fellow artist, when she was the monitor for his class. For over 30 years Betty Carbol taught art classes at the Crow Island School in Winnetka, IL. Thomas Carbol also an art teacher, taught at Highland Park High School for over 20 years. Betty Williams Carbol continues to work in the archives at Crow Island School guiding researchers through the collections at the 75 year old school.
Thomas Carbol passed away in 2000, after living 14 years with his historic heart. That first heart transplant was inspiration for countless more hearts, and Betty Williams Carbol has created at least 5,500 more of them.
Come meet Betty Williams Carbol at the Valentine’s Day Art Spree and see her “Image Du Coeur” line of work. Event details below:
Wednesday, Feb. 13th & Thursday, Feb. 14th
10 am - 3:30 pm
James R. Thompson Center Atrium
100 W. Randolph
01 10 / 2012
Illinois Artisans Program is excited to announce the results of the Fall 2012 Jury. 13 new artisans joined The Illinois Artisans Program. Scroll through the October posts to see images of the new artisans!
The Illinois Artisans Program is continually looking for talented new artists to join the Program. All areas of arts and crafts, including folk, traditional, contemporary, and ethnic, as well as fine art forms are eligible. Over 1,800 artists have been jury selected into the IAP. Juried artists participate in art sprees, craft festivals and other events in order to promote their work. (Want to apply? Read more here or visit our website: www.museum.state.il.us/artisans)
21 8 / 2012
Just like each piece of artwork has a story to tell, so does each artist. This is the first of a series of interviews with just a few of the 1,800 artisans in the Illinois Artisans Program. Early this summer, I spoke with scratch board Artisans Lisa Goesling of Palatine, IL on her decision to pursue art, her battle with cancer, and her reflections on having a family.
Growing up Lisa Goesling was surrounded by art. Her parents were both creatives and collectors. They would travel around Europe bringing back pieces of art, often so small that Goesling would examine them under a magnifying glass. Goesling’s mother was a fashion illustrator and struggled along in that career. Goesling’s father chose to be a lawyer even though he wanted to be a professional baritone. So when Goesling chose to major in the arts, she was pushed by her parents to do something practical as well: graphic design.
For 30 years Goesling worked designing newsletters, brochures, and books, all the while painting and drawing. In 2006 a cancer diagnosis pushed Goesling to focus just on her art practice: “There are no guarantees in the art world. I took a giant leap six years ago. This has been the most intense concentration on my art. And I love it. I wish my dad was around so I could show him.”
During her cancer treatment Goesling discovered scratchboards, appealing because it is completely non-toxic and transportable. Scratchboards are coated with porcelain and then ink. A metal stylus is used to scrape away the black layer with various marks to create depth. While Goesling was going through treatment people kept sending her flowers, and she began noticing the amazing beauty.
“I’m not a religious person, but looking at the flowers. And I thought there must be a god. The texture and forms in the flowers”
Working with extreme precision and detail in a media where one can’t erase, Goesling breaks down form into the smallest lines, isolating features and textures.
“I am sitting here looking at a bunch of dandelions. Drawn, they are a bunch of stars floating off the page. In this medium simple is just not that interesting. I have too many ideas. Every day is ok I am here I want to be productive today. I am not obsessive about it, but I kind of embrace it.”
Often Goesling is working on up to 10 pieces at a time at different stages of completion, she diligently spends between 3 and 8 hours daily in the studio.
Preferring to work with the actual specimen, Goesling has plants at various stages of drying throughout her studio. Goesling laughed as she described collecting milkweed and other nature samples from the side of the road while her Mother-In-Law sat watching in the car. Before the object wilts Goesling will take several photos of it to work from. Currently Goesling is working on several large projects: a collaboration with a furniture artist as well as a grid of 12 pieces 8x8” in size.
In addition to a studio practice, Goesling conducts workshops every 3 months with cancer and pain management patients at Swedish Covenant. It is a powerful experience for Goesling as well as the participants in the workshops. “It is not something I can do all the time. The stories I hear…I am not a therapist…it is larger than the art. One of the cancer patients said to me: You do a whole lot more with your cancer than I do!”
Lisa Goesling also added her advice to other artists: “I have so many different opinions. One of the issues I have is people thinking it is cool to be starving artists. But it doesn’t do us any favors. We need to take ourselves seriously, and then the masses will. They think: It is ok for me to starve, but I don’t think it is doing them any favors. What you have has value.”
After speaking with Goesling at length about her work, Goesling sent me this insight:
I keep thinking about what else I would have added to my interview. I guess the one thing that came to mind is that while some artists only want to concentrate on their art and not lead a life that might get in the way of that. I found that for me, having a family along with so many life experiences, have enriched my art, not taken away from it. I don’t feel the angst that a lot of artists express through their art. And I don’t work hard at finding the meaning of life, I feel like I already found it.
12 7 / 2012
10 7 / 2012