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From dancer to silversmith, it’s all about creativity

Jo Ann Graham is one of the artists whose work can be purchased at the April Showers Art Party April 5. Tickets are $75. From The Island News Article by Aileen Goldstein; photos by Bob Sofaly

Her gracefulness is obvious. Her slender build is a reminder of her past career.  Her moves are free-flowing and smooth. She is understated, yet hard to ignore. joanngrahambraceletJo Ann Graham has the movements of a dancer. Naturally brilliant in chemistry, her parents sent her to college to major in that field. After two years, Graham left college, married and became a potter, creating and shaping clay and developing her own glazes and finishes. She eventually realized, though, that she was not meant to be a potter. A self-proclaimed closet dancer, Graham came to the understanding she was a dancer. “It was something that was meant to be and I had a natural propensity towards it. I loved choreographing. I loved creating,” the Dataw Island resident said. Graham went on to teach dance. She became the first dance consultant in the South Carolina Department of Education and helped to build the dance programs in all the schools in South Carolina and developed a dance curriculum. “I think there is a connection. It is all about centering and being centered for me.  You have to center your clay and in dancing, you are centering yourself.  You have to turn around and spin,” she said as she waved her arm gracefully through the air. When she was physically unable to demonstrate moves for her students, Graham was forced to realize she needed to end her dancing career. After a series of health-related setbacks, Graham needed a new focus. While taking a class at a local scrapbook store, she created a necklace from the wire provided while other people in the class documented memories with paper and stamps. She realized she liked working with metal, especially the shaping and texturing of the material. Ironically, she was unaccustomed to wearing jewelry, as dancers refrain from wearing it. “I spent my whole life living in the world of dance and everything was ephemeral and I didn’t have anything to hold on to. Now I have this to hold on to.” Interestingly enough, she now has people come up to her booth at art shows and comment on her work, remarking how fluid a piece may be. Graham takes these moments as an opportunity to connect to the customer and share her past. “I am thoroughly convinced that my dance career is influencing whatever I make, whatever comes out of me,” she said. She also continues to seek new information and add to her vast array of skills.  Upon learning that welding school is free to those over the age of 65, she signed up for classes and developed a technique to solder sterling silver to steel. Most recently, she learned how to put gold onto steel to create eye-catching cuffs. “I am so fascinated by what I can do with metal,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. All of her work starts out as flat sheets of sterling silver or steel and all is hand-forged to create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. Her favorite part of working with metals and creating is the surprises that come up during the process. She never knows where the gold will fuse with the steel and what the unique outcome will be on each piece. Graham has come full circle and realizes the value of her chemistry background in regard to her current career. “If you look deep enough, everything is connected,” she said. Graham flourishes in the solitude of her home studio and is equally energized at art shows when meeting customers. She has received many awards and accolades from the art shows she has participated in. Graham came up with the name of her business, Silver Lining Dezigns, after awaking from a dream. She has recently decided to shorten the name to the initials, SLD. She admits, though, she never in her wildest dreams ever though she would be creating jewelry for a living. “Things are often put in my hands and I have to learn to follow and pay attention,” she said. “I love my new career, I now choreograph in sterling silver and these (the work) are my dances.” Contact Graham at 843-838-7170 or 843-812-3190 or on Facebook.

SC jeweler takes risks and reaps national acclaim

From The Huffington Post Article by Ashley Mason Brown
[caption id="attachment_27847" align="alignright" width="200"]Kate Furman A model wears a conceptual wood piece by Kate Furman, made for “The Lines Within," a collaboration with Greenville, SC photographer Eli Warren.[/caption] Greenville, South Carolina native Kate Furman remembers the day she first was introduced to metalsmithing. “I was interviewing for the Fine Arts Center program and was in their metals studio. There were really cool tools everywhere. When they asked me what class I wanted to take, I said this one.” Spoiler alert-she was accepted into the program. Her skill blossomed there under the tutelage of renowned metalsmith Susan Willis who encouraged Kate to continue her education after highschool and pursue a BA in metalsmithing. Furman attended UGA’s metalsmithing program for four years and moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming afterward teaching at the local arts center and raft guiding on the side. “I fell in love with Jackson and never thought I would leave but got into RISD which was a lifelong dream. Winston (her dog) and I moved to Providence, Rhode Island and I earned a Masters Degree from RISD. My favorite part of that was that I was taught by the people that I had been studying for the past 5 or so years.” At RISD Kate was encouraged to think outside the box and mix the natural influences from Jackson Hole with metal elements to create wearable works of art. Furman’s original wood centric conceptual art style emerged from her time at Jackson Hole as a raft guide. “Some people are still very confused by them, but it’s funny. People either love them or aren’t quite sure what to think.  I apply to art exhibitions all over the country with those pieces.” These large, strong pieces of jewelry are laden with chain work and can be worn draped around the neck. They, much like Furman herself are unusual, thought provoking and enigmatic. Furman’s smaller pieces of jewelry have found home in the southern trendy-chic boutiques such as Augusta 20. The smaller wearable pieces carry a visually apparent nature flashback as well including twig like bracelets, blue crab pendants and wood bark textured wedding bands made from golds, silvers and bronzes. Her wearable jewelry line is a perfect representation of South Carolina’s married landscape as it meshes influence from the Upstate’s signature oak branches to Pawleys Island tide forgotten castaway sea shells. Furman’s casting process takes the original items from their home in nature and perfectly recreates each sea shell, pine cone, and broken twig into a everyday piece of metal art. This two-tiered jewelry concept of producing both one of a kind conceptual jewelry as well as the wearable jewelry has allowed for her to grow her brand at a slow and steady pace. Some of her large conceptual pieces are in museums and shows world-wide. They’ve been in Australia, Netherlands and just recently shown in Boston. She shipped a few pieces overseas to the UK for a high end conceptual fashion shoot. She’s even ventured into using 3-D printing technology to mass produce jewelry for her more budget conscious clients. By partnering with a local 3-D printer, Furman not only supports another local business, but also is able to communicate for freely with her supplier about the process and the quantity of work she needs in order to satisfy her demand. [caption id="attachment_27849" align="alignright" width="300"]Kate Furman 3D jewelry Kate Furman’s 3-D printed jewelry has been a fun and popular choice. Photo by Eli Warren of The Needed Image[/caption]
Furman’s eyes are set to the horizon as she plans her next stage as an artist. “I just bought a space on Pendleton Street that’s going to be a studio. Part of it will be retail with open hours and allow people to come visit me while I’m working and learn about the process and just hang out. Over time I’ll become more and more involved with the Greenville Center for Creative Arts as that program grows,” says Furman. Her recognition in Greenville is growing after she was selected as a 2016 Emerging Artist Award Winner for Artisphere. Artisphere is a nationally renowned art festival held in Greenville, South Carolina’s welcoming and chic downtown.  Furman competed with thousands of artist nation-wide for a spot in the line-up and received a tent where she could sell her work during the festival along with the honor of her award. “It was one of the coolest weekends ever. I had so much support from family and friends and was able to meet many new artists and clients. I couldn’t even walk across my booth most of the time- it was so packed. It was a rewarding experience that I hope to be able to repeat again.” Her business grows every year. “I have always known what I wanted and have done it, “ she says as she fidgets. “Look I can’t sit still! I like being back at home because I have support of everyone I grew up with. I try to bring a version of art that wasn’t here before. Beyond fashion jewelry is kind of new to Greenville. It’s fun to be a bit of a pioneer. “ Check out Kate’s jewelry here at www.katefurman.com 

Jewelry created for History Channel’s ‘Vikings’ to be featured at S.C. Arts Gala

[gallery columns="4" ids="26244,26243,26242,26245"] Fans of the History Channel's Vikings take note: you can go home from the South Carolina Arts Gala wearing Lagertha's barrettes or Ragnar's bracelet. [caption id="attachment_26241" align="alignright" width="275"]Viking actress Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha looking fierce in her Danny Hansen-designed hair pieces.[/caption] Batesburg-Leesville craftsman Danny Hansen, who has designed and created much of the distinctive jewelry worn by the popular drama's actors, will take part in the South Carolina Arts Gala art sale on May 11. In addition to bronze hair adornments and a silver dragon bracelet, Hansen will offer a silver Triskele (an ancient Celtic symbol) pendant and a bronze dragon belt buckle set -- pieces similar to items Hansen created for Vikings.

Hansen shipped off his bronze dragon-head bracelets to Vikings creators on a whim. The bracelets quickly became a featured object worn by main characters Ragnar and Aethelstan. The show's fans took notice and bracelet sales soared on Hansen's Crafty Celts website.

According to Hansen, the handmade barrettes "came out of a collaboration with the costuming department for Vikings. They needed hair pieces for a costume concept they had using our Hound and Doe cloak clasps. We developed these designs, as well as our Stag cloak clasp, into hair barrettes." Hansen has first-hand knowledge of how those costume concepts are realized -- he and his son, Kelley, traveled to Ireland to work as extras on the show. Presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation, the art sale will also offer paintings, glass, pottery, sculpture, fiber arts and other original works of art, plus arts "experiences" created to showcase cultural and culinary arts.The sale is the perfect time to meet and mingle with artists as you ponder which piece to add to your art collection. All proceeds benefit the arts in schools and communities around the state through the South Carolina Arts Commission’s arts education and arts development programs. Last year, the S.C. Arts Foundation contributed more than $55,000 to bolster programs such as artist fellowships, arts education and artist training. The South Carolina Arts Gala, the celebration of the South Carolina Arts Awards, takes place May 11 at 7:15 p.m. at 701 Whaley St. in Columbia. Prior to the gala, enjoy a concert featuring bluegrass and gospel, plus recognition of Verner and Folk Heritage Award recipients. The concert and awards recognition take place at 6:15 p.m. in the Granby Room, 701 Whaley Street (in the same building as the gala). Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online with a credit card or check, or by calling (803) 734.8696. Reserve your tickets today!

Jeweler helping Johnsonville use art as economic development tool

From the Hemingway Observer Article and photo by Dianne Owens

JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. – There’s rolling and patting and molding and texturing and firing. Somewhere in there is drying and polishing and adding findings. That’s all a part of making jewelry, wearable art pieces, that is, and Jackie Stasney of Johnsonville is working hard at getting it down to a fine science. As a child, Stasney picked up gemstones and rocks on family trips. Fast-forward 40 years, after marriage, raising of children, and the pursuing of other ventures, she and her husband, Tom, found themselves back in Johnsonville, helping to care for her aging parents, Norman and Jean Edgeworth.
Fast-forward 10 more years, and she has found out, finally, what she wants to be when she grows up: an artist who makes jewelry.
Her first foray into jewelry making was the wrapping of wire around her “rocks” and then adding the chains from which to wear them. And then creating the same for bracelets.
Stasney said those early pieces were crudely made, and she cringes to think about them. People would ask, however, where she got the jewelry she was wearing, and when they discovered she had made it, they were willing to pay her to make something unique for them.
After seeing she could make and sell those “wrapped rocks,” her most recent career was born.
“I love wearing signature pieces. Big items. And I love making them," she said recently, sitting at a table in the Artisan Outpost in Johnsonville.
Stasney credits Jane Madden with helping her have confidence in her work. Stasney says Madden dragged her “from under a tree,” where she sat at a table selling her wares.
“Working with Jackie has been interesting,” said Madden, a former director of the Art Trail Gallery. “Her passion about the beauty she sees in gemstones is what has driven her. ... In five to 10 years, her work will continue to evolve.”
Stasney wasn’t content with just making and selling her art. She looked around and saw other talented artists in the area, all of whom needed a venue. And there sat the empty former library building on a corner in Johnsonville. She contacted City Hall, and in 2013 the Artisan Outpost opened: a venue, one Saturday each month, that showcases local artists and their work, a place where painting classes are conducted and where this fall kindergarteners will come to explore their creativity.
“I think it’s been good,” Stasney said. “It brings folks into Johnsonville who wouldn’t otherwise come, and they buy other things while they are here.”
At first, she said, many locals came, and she said there are several repeat customers, but now, the majority of visitors to the Outpost are from Conway, Santee, the beach and beyond.
In 2014, Stasney opened her Etsy store, an online shop. From there, she sells her jewelry throughout the world.
“I am and always have been fascinated by the beauty of stones,” she said. “I love to find a vein of color and pick that color up in either my wire or crystals. I have recently discovered metal clay and enjoy making my own pieces. Love of nature and love of color are my passions.”
Since becoming an artist, Stasney has surrounded herself with other like-minded folks.
Her works are on display with the Art Trail in Florence, and she serves on that group’s board. Most recently she was juried as an emerging artist in mixed media with the South Carolina Cotton Trail, showing items in the Black Creek Arts Center in Hartsville.
She is a member of the Lake City Area Arts Guild and takes lessons to hone her skills. She is dabbling now in new media.
Stasney said if she has trouble, she turns to her husband, the engineer. With his ingenuity and help in getting her to think through steps, the designs she sees in her head come to life. She is amazed, really, she said.
A regular on Thursdays at the Lake City Farmers Market, she has been joined throughout this summer by granddaughter Madison, who might be a budding businesswoman.
Madison said she loves trying on the jewelry and setting up the tables for her grandmother. She likes the business side of the jewelry business.
“We (local artists) can’t compete with the mass-produced items,” Stasney said, “but we can offer something unique and wonderful. I’m amazed we (the artists at the Outpost) are still here.”
A piece of jewelry takes approximately three to four days to complete, she said, and she has many items going, all in various stages, all the time.
“I’m late to art,” she said, “But I finally found what I want to do when I grow up ... I’d tell people to find where their passion is and to follow it. Take a course, even if it’s online. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Push.” Image: Jackie Stasney of Johnsonville laughs as granddaughter Madison points at her new favorite piece of jewelry. She likes this one, she said, because it is an eagle wing. The two were manning Stasney's booth at the Lake City Farmers Market.

Exhibition opportunities for fine artists and photographers during North Charleston Arts Festival

The 2015 North Charleston Arts Festival, taking place May 1-9, offers excellent exhibition opportunities for fine artists and photographers ages 18 and up, including the annual North Charleston Arts Festival Art Walk and Judged Fine Art and Photography Competitions & Exhibitions. The Art Walk, set for Wednesday, May 6, in the Olde Village area of North Charleston, provides a fun and casual setting for artists to both display and sell their work. Entries for the judged competitions may compete for ribbons and cash prizes and will be on display throughout the festival at the Charleston Area Convention Center Complex, located at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Complete details and entry instructions for all exhibition opportunities are available for download at NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com/apply. Art Walk Local fine artists, fine craft artisans, photographers, and sculptors are invited to exhibit and sell their original works during the Arts Festival's Art Walk. From 5 - 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, and more in a full range of styles will be displayed along the sidewalks and within a number of local businesses and restaurants in the Olde Village area of North Charleston. Other Art Walk offerings include live music, art demos, and kid’s activities, creating a festive evening of art and culture for the whole family to enjoy. Artists are selected to participate in the Art Walk through a juried application process. There is no fee to apply. Sales of originals, prints, notecards, and other small works are welcome and selected artists may also offer their own original brochures, business cards, and supplemental handouts. Display screens can be furnished by the Cultural Arts Department at no charge to assist the artist in presenting his/her work. Display equipment for 3D artwork is available on a limited basis. The deadline for submission of applications for the Art Walk is April 20, 2015. Applications may be emailed to culturalarts@northcharleston.org, mailed to the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at PO Box 190016, North Charleston, SC 29419, or hand-delivered to the Cultural Arts office on the 2nd floor of North Charleston City Hall, located at 2500 City Hall Lane in North Charleston. Judged Fine Art Competition & Exhibition Fine artists are invited to enter original work into the annual North Charleston Arts Festival Judged Fine Art Competition & Exhibition and compete for cash prizes totaling up to $4,675. Submissions are accepted in five categories: acrylic, oil, drawing/pastel, watercolor, and mixed media. Awards will be at the sole discretion of the judge, Wim Roefs, an independent curator, author, art consultant, exhibition designer, and owner of The if ART Gallery in Columbia, SC. Roefs is the chairman of the board of Columbia's 701 Center for Contemporary Art (701 CCA) and was the organization's founding volunteer executive director from 2008-2013. He chairs the curatorial team for 701 CCA and has curated dozens of exhibitions for his own gallery and art institutions throughout South Carolina and beyond. Fine art entries will be accepted at the Charleston Area Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday, April 29 and 30, from noon to 7 p.m., as well as Friday, May 1, from 9 a.m. to noon. Artists may enter any combination of categories with a maximum of four entries in one or more categories. A non-refundable fee of $10 per entry is due at drop-off. Judged Photography Competition and Exhibition Professional and amateur photographers are invited to enter original prints into the annual North Charleston Arts Festival Judged Photography Competition & Exhibition and compete for cash prizes totaling up to $2,175. Submissions will be accepted in the Professional/Advanced division or Amateur division under the categories of color, monochrome, or digitally enhanced. Judging and awards will be based on the Photographic Society of America Print Guidelines. Three competent judges in the field of photography will score entries using the 3-9 range of scores. Each judge will evaluate each entry as a whole, considering the areas of impact, composition, and technique. However, there is no specific weighting or allotment of points for each category. This system is used efficiently and effectively by many arts councils, at international exhibitions, and by camera clubs. It allows an adequate qualitative separation of entries while lessening the potential for a large number of the higher scoring entries having identical scores. In the event of a tie-breaker, judges will choose the winning entry. Photography entries will be accepted at the Charleston Area Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday, April 29 and 30, from noon to 7 p.m. Artists may enter any combination of categories with a maximum of four entries in one or more categories. A non-refundable fee of $5 per entry is due at drop-off. The Judged Fine Art and Photography Exhibitions are free and open to the public throughout the North Charleston Arts Festival. Viewing times are Saturday, May 2, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sunday, May 3, 2 –5 p.m.; Monday through Friday, May 4-8, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; and Saturday, May 9, 9 a.m. – noon. Awards for 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, and Honorable Mentions in each division and category for both the Judged Fine Art and Judged Photography Competitions will be announced at an artist reception on Friday, May 1, from 6 - 7 p.m. at the Charleston Area Convention Center. Musical entertainment will be provided by David Archer and Abe White and the public is welcome to attend. The North Charleston Arts Festival, scheduled May 1-9, is one of the most comprehensive arts festivals in the state, providing thousands of residents and visitors with an array of nearly 200 performances, exhibitions, and activities. The Main Event, held May 2 and 3 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and Charleston Area Convention Center, offers free admission and parking to more than 40 performances on four stages, exhibitions, a gem and mineral show, an antique show, children’s activities, art and crafts booths, and a food courtyard. The Arts Festival continues with free and moderately priced ticketed events throughout the week at various locations and concludes with fireworks over the Cooper River at the Grand Finale at North Charleston Riverfront Park. For more information about the North Charleston Arts Festival, or to download the Art Walk application or entry instructions for the Judged Fine Art and Photography Competitions & Exhibitions, visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com. For more information about other exhibition opportunities offered by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department, visit the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website, northcharleston.org, or call 843-740-5854. Via: City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department

Visual artists and fine craft artisans invited to apply for annual Co-Op Gallery

Applications are now being accepted from visual artists and fine craft artisans for participation in The Meeting Place Art and Fine Craft Co-Op, an annual, temporary artist-run gallery coordinated by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department and presented as a component of the North Charleston Arts Festival. The Co-Op is dedicated to presenting many artists of varied backgrounds working in a diverse array of media and representing a full range of styles. Eligible applicants include South Carolina artists, ages 18 and up, creating original fine art, fine crafts, photography, pottery, jewelry, fiber art, glass, sculpture and more. There is no fee to apply. Applications can be found online at NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com/apply. Deadline for applications is Monday, March 3, 2014. The Meeting Place Art and Fine Craft Co-Op Gallery is located at 1077 East Montague Avenue in the Olde Village area of North Charleston. Operating hours are Fridays and Saturdays, April 4 through May 31, 2014, and are overseen by participating artists. A free, public reception will be held at the gallery during the North Charleston Arts Festival Art Walk on Wednesday, May 7, from 5-8 p.m. The 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival is scheduled for May 2-10. The nine-day celebration of arts and culture provides more than 30,000 residents and visitors with an array of performances, exhibitions and activities. The Main Event, held the first weekend in May, offers free admission and parking to over 40 performances on four themed stage stages: General Audience, Cultural Heritage, Youth Entertainment, and Bands. Other Main Event activities include judged art and photography shows, the S.C. Palmetto Hands Juried Fine Craft Exhibit, a gem & mineral show, an antique show, children's activities, art and craft booths, and a food courtyard. The Arts Festival continues with more than 60 events and exhibitions throughout the week at various locations. An array of free and ticketed offerings include street dances, concerts, theater presentations, film screenings, an art walk, children’s programs, workshops and demonstrations, a National Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition, and much more. The festival concludes with the Grand Finale at North Charleston Riverfront Park featuring performances by professional groups and Tri-county schools, children's activities, and fireworks over the Cooper River. For more information, contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843) 740-5854, email culturalarts@northcharleston.org, or visit NorthCharlestonArtsFest.com. Via: North Charleston Cultural Arts Department