Jeweler Trish Nadeau Conant, is the fifth artist selected this year for the Rocky Neck Art Colony’s Summer Artist Series. Her exhibition “Texture Speaks” replicates the natural world in metal through the process of precious metal clay (PMC). Conant’s new exhibit opens Thursday, September 4th, at Rocky Neck Gallery, 53 Rocky Neck Ave., and runs until September 23rd. Meet the artist and hear about her process this Saturday, 9/6, at a reception from 6 to 8 PM.
When using PMC as a vehicle, stories evolve from the seen and unseen patterns of handcrafted texture tapestries that create a personal connection between the creator and the wearer.
“Sometimes the connection I have as an artist is exactly the same as the wearer and other times it is completely different,” says Conant, “but the connection is made which sparks conversation. Jewelry is personal and I’m inspired by the connections I make with people. My jewelry is universal as it speaks to mothers, daughters, granddaughters, fathers, sons, and good friends and I find that extremely gratifying.”
Conant draws her inspiration from the natural world. A walk in the woods may spark a new design with a found fern. Color could inspire the patina of her finished pieces. Iridescent blue, purple, crimson red, orange, and gold created with acid and heat patinas mimic the rising sun or a moonlit walk.
She molds twigs, birds, sea urchins, and gingko leaves, then carves and sculpts them to form organic yet elegant pieces of jewelry. She rivets leaf skeletons between metal discs that are protected by sheets of mica. She also recreates natural scenes using handcrafted texture sheets, created with polymer clay and paper, to produce realistic etchings onto the metal clay. Using a cycle of friction and heat, she burnishes black and white artwork onto Polymer Clay. The Polymer Clay sticks to the ink on the paper and the paper is cured in an oven resulting in a low relief design. These polymer clay sheets are rolled directly onto the metal clay or onto polymer clay, which is later set in a bezel or riveted in a frame.
Her reversible pendants and earrings depict a different image, pattern or scene on each side. She infuses pure 24 karat gold onto pure silver in a perfect marriage of metals. Conant’s focus is on uncomplicated designs, finding beauty in simple shapes and organic textures without compromising purity of form. Assimilation of skill and a true love of process are reflected in each piece of wearable art.
Trish Conant is a special education teacher with a passion for creating. She has been making jewelry for over 15 years and began using PMC in 2004 when she purchased her first kiln. From the moment the clay touched her hands she was hooked.
She began replicating her abundant collection of washed up shells and incorporating her stash of sea glass into the designs. In 2006 Conant took her first class with Celie Fago where she learned how to create her own texture sheets and the ancient technique of Keumboo. She continued to further her jewelry education over the years and has taken workshops with Tim McCreight, Pauline Warg, Linda Kay-Moses and Holly Gage. What she loves most about PMC is that it can be textured in so many different ways. She loves collecting things; twigs, flowers, grass, ferns, shells, pods etc. and turning them into molds or rolling them directly into the clay.
PMC is also a very green material with little waste. It is made from reclaimed silver and every little sanded morsel can be reconstituted with water. Because it is a pure metal, it will adhere perfectly to the gold foil.
In addition to the Rocky Neck Art Colony, Conant is a member of several craft organizations in Maine including Designing Women, The Society of Southern Maine Craftsmen and The United Maine Craftsmen. She also participates in several art fairs in the summer and fall.
Rocky Neck Gallery is open 7 days a week. Hours are Sunday - Wednesday: 11 AM - 6 PM; Thursday - Saturday 11 AM - 8 PM.