December 04 2017

How sustainability and innovation have impacted the career of this lifelong jeweler

PMA Craft Show: Could you tell us a little about your background and how you got involved in craft?

Todd Reed: I have always been interested in the craft of putting things together. After high school, I was working as a leathersmith making hand-stitched clothing, craft couture and handbags with a local designer. We used many silver and deer antler ornaments in the pieces, which instilled a passion for expanding the metal components into buckles and jewelry items. After I successfully made my first concho, I realized I fell in love with metal. This inspired me to build a home studio, and that is when my career in jewelry design began!

CS: What compels you to use recycled metals and sustainably-sourced raw diamonds in your work?

TR: I started my company with a focus on forming meaningful relationships, not only with people, but also the environment.

At that time, there was no Kimberley process, which is a certification that verifies diamonds’ origins. Even though it was not popular to be responsible, it was important to me, so we did it. I started working with a vendor who made a commitment to source diamonds from non-conflict areas, and I still work with them to this day. 

We also work with a great company called Hoover and Strong, a refiner and manufacturer that has been providing socially and environmentally-responsible products for more than 95 years. We send them our scraps and get usable pieces of metal in return. In fact, all of the metals we use can be easily recycled. 

CS: You’re so committed to the environment and sustainability. Were you always interested in using diamonds responsibly in your craft?

TR: I’m constantly inspired by diamonds and reusing or reimagining materials. That’s just who I am. When I was younger I would use things like roadkill for leather; I think that “innovative lens” is just instilled in me. To this day when I look at diamonds in my workspace I’m inspired, they’re just so amazing!

CS: Your online presence is active. Do you have any tips for artists trying to get their name recognized using social media?

TR: Growing up I was always called “tenacious Todd.” You kind of have to be obsessive about something to make a presence when there’s hundreds of thousands of other companies and attractions for people to browse and select. It really must become your life. You can’t just put in 50 hours and expect it to happen - it’s just tenacity and a willingness to be unique and stand out.

The biggest key I would tell people trying to make art into a business is you have to constantly look and re-look at everything, with the end goal of pushing innovation. That, coupled with truly believing in the work you’re doing.

CS:How did you feel presenting your work in the 2017 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show as compared to your first time?

TR: I was excited about the work I created, as well as the opportunity to represent my brand to a new group of people. This is how I started the beginning of my career – getting amazing feedback from a diverse audience at the Craft Show.

Learn more about Todd Reed by visiting https://www.toddreed.com.

 

 

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October 28 2015
David Bacharach (L) accepts the Rolex Prize from Steven Wismer at the 1986 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.

In 2015, metalsmith David Bacharach will complete his 53rd year showcasing his work. We asked him to share some of his recollections about a life in craft:

My first time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show was when the exhibition was still located in the old West Side Armory. I was always comfortable in the knowledge that the Philadelphia show, even early on, attracted viewers who appreciated and understood the work, even if that work did not always allow neat categorization. Knowing this, I would inevitably take the opportunity when exhibiting in Philadelphia to introduce experimental ideas including some of my earliest woven metal work works, my first purely sculptural works and my first large format wall sculptures.

On the occasion of the final Craft Show at the Armory, I plaited a 6' tall, slender sculptural form. As soon as the show opened I received favorable comments on it and quickly sold the new work. Then, during the quiet time that comes to every show around 4 p.m., a well dressed gentleman approached me. He stood, hands behind his back, carefully examining the slender sculpture. After a few moments he asked "What precisely is the function of this metal work? Puzzled, I replied, "What do you mean?” He stated that to be craft "an object has to function." Art could of course be nonfunctional, he explained, but not craft.

Considering the question, the gentleman's statement of belief, and wishing not to engage in a philosophical discussion on the nature of art and craft I replied, “it's a clothes rack.” In my home most vertical objects inevitably support the odd coat or hat so I felt this was a reasonably appropriate, honest explanation. The gentleman nodded and began casually conversing with the artist in the next booth.

Moments later, he turned back to me and suggested, "you could use a few more rods to hang your coats from.” I thanked him for his suggestion and we nodded our goodbyes. Several years later, I was offered a commission to design and fabricate several coat racks for a new restaurant. I recalled this conversation and decided to plait them of copper, with extra rods, of course.

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October 09 2014

Trained as a graphic designer and printmaker, Biba Schutz has been a practicing, self-taught metal smith and jeweler for more than 20 years. She’s known for combining metal with unexpected materials wearable art. Schutz’s works can be found in the collections of the Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and Rotasa Foundation, Mill Valley, CA. She received the Award of Excellence from the American Craft Council in 2008, the Award of Excellence in Jewelry at the Smithsonian Craft Show in 2009, and the Eric Berg Prize for Excellence in Metal at the 2013 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Her work has been exhibited nationally in solo and group shows. Read more of her bio at the Corning Museum of Glass or on her website.

What first interested you in working in your medium?

I was a graphic designer and decided I wanted to be a maker. I think the reason I started with anodized aluminum is because it fit with my aesthetic as a graphic designer. Eventually, I wanted to be more involved in the moving and forming of metal.

What is special about the medium you work with?

The hands-on quality of metal. The material can be rigid and strong, flexible and fragile, smooth or textured, and move like plastic.

How does it inform the work you create? 

The way I use metal, it marks time (memory), experience and process.

What do you love about your workspace? 

My studio is walking distance from my home. During my 45-minute walks, I explore the visual impact of the streets of New York City, while developing and resolving ideas. The studio is large almost 800 square feet, with a cement floor and great light thanks to 6-foot high windows facing south. Most importantly, it is a noisy building, which means I can make noise as well.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?

I just finished a body of work for Sienna Patti Gallery that included blown glass. Combining metal and glass in jewelry has been challenging, exciting and gratifying.

You can preview the work of the 2013 Craft Show award winner for excellence in metal here. Check out a Q&A with the artist from the Art Jewelry Forum to hear Schutz on her new work in metal and glass, and how she fits in a full schedule of craft shows and gallery exhibitions.

 

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