Craig S. Vandeman
Metalsmithing and Jewelry are the keys to my secret place, my path to the inner parts of my soul, my looking glass, which allows me to explore and examine how I see the world and the things within it. From the beginning, the process of transforming a flat sheet of metal struck me as magical, and I found myself becoming like a child with eyes wide open. Metal allows me to express my love and curiosity about nature and the world around us. Metalsmithing allows me to create pieces that reflect old world techniques with new world ideas. It allows me to dig deep into my soul and let my voice be heard, while providing a most amenable way to translate inner vision into outer reality.
In my metal work I am very interested in texture. Nature provides a wonderful example of how value, form, line, and texture combined, produces movement, rhythm, harmony, and protection of the earth. I am drawn to the contradiction of the hard, immovable, structural metal mimicking the most delicate pieces of nature, in which the material exhibits a sense of movement and shows the hand of the maker. This is the heart of my work.
There is a close relationship with the piece of jewelry and the handmade process. I always consider the movement of the piece and how it protects and interacts with the body. As I am creating a piece, I contemplate the movement, and how it acts as armor to the body and is always vigilant to protect. I am fascinated by the way the body and jewelry move as one. As we live in a world with so much unrest, it’s important to me that I express the harmony it provides us, when we stand silent in the midst of nature and hear the whispers of the wind. Jewelry then becomes an extension of my expression.
The forms and surfaces of my work are responses to the branches, leaves, flowers, and animal life that I use to show the rhythm and depth of the textures that are my inspiration. Through the uses of the materials I use it is important to me that the texture and color not only show the makers mark, but the softness and strength of nature.
I hand fabricate all of my work using metalsmithing techniques such as soldering, reticulation, texturing, etching, fold forming, and the use of different patinas. My intent in creating my work is for the wearer to develop a personal connection with their piece and the walk through life grounded to the earth.