On Monday, September 24, jeweler and metal-smith Laura Wood led a workshop in the Hop’s Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio, demonstrating her unique process of work using powder coating on metal to make incredibly clean and intricate, solid-colored jewelry pieces. Powder-coating is a very durable alternative to conventional liquid paint on metal. Powder-coating is heat-fused plastic dust fused onto metal. Laura not only uses powder coating for sleek jewelry pieces, but also as a way to make very clean wall-mounts to hold jewelry or other sculptural pieces. Laura emphasized that she is a “big advocate for interdisciplinary learning,” and that her process is not only used for jewelry, but is also “commonly outsourced in industry.” Because of this, she was really excited to work with a group of people with a diverse range of interests and to see the potential for her demonstration to “influence beyond the art object.”
Laura is a young, emerging full-time jewelry artist who is a current resident artist at Penland School of Crafts. Penland is one of the most important schools for American Craft in the US. Additionally, Laura’s work has been selected and shown across the US in different exhibitions, and can be found in the permanent collections of both the Gregg Museum of Art at North Carolina State University and the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin.
On the day following the workshop, she gave a public talk to students and the Dartmouth community about her experience as a jeweler, and how she was inspired by mediums other than jewelry and sculpture to make fluid and lyrical pieces that are seen within her work today.
Laura taught us how to use common containers and objects to set up a station for powder-coating in your own studio. She put holes in a large plastic bin to use as a powder-coating container, to keep the mess inside the bin rather than all over the studio. Then she explained how to use an electrical current in a wire and a spray gun to coat the metal. Following this step, the powder-coated metal is moved to a small convection oven and the heat transforms the metal into a shiny, uniform colored object. This process is technical and delicate at the same time, which reflects Laura’s intentions as an artist to explore and challenge her own work to “evolve alongside new technologies and processes”
In the workshop, Laura not only demonstrated her own process, but she also allowed the students to participate in the powder-coating technique and to experience the process from start to finish. Some of students were even able to make their own jewelry out of their powder coated metal pieces. Laura’s work can be viewed today in an exhibition at Designer Gold Gallery, in Hanover, NH. Her work will be displayed until October 13.