[Editor’s note: For more about the workshop, read “Marilyn da Silva: A Lifetime Forged in Metal” by Anthony Robles ’20]
On Sunday, October 9, Dartmouth’s own Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio was treated to a special public workshop led by metalsmithing icon Marilyn da Silva. Da Silva is well known for her trademark treatment using gesso and colored pencil in creating her sculpture and wearable pieces. Her work has been displayed nationally and internationally, and in her visit to Dartmouth she offered an exceptional tutorial on coloring metal using a variety of her techniques she has spent years pioneering and perfecting.
In anticipation for her lecture and discussion later that afternoon, the Jewelry Studio was packed to the brim with current students, local community members and even a Dartmouth professor or two. The process itself was very interpretive, with the main components being that the metal being colored must first be sandblasted to provide a surface capable of holding the gesso which is then applied in a variety of shades and methods. The next step calls for the artist to choose a means of applying color, whether that be acrylic pain, colored pencils, pastels or, in some cases, gel pens.
One of the key points of da Silva’s tutorial was the creativity offered by the process of coloring on metal, and how the range of gesso types, brush strokes, patterning and an individual’s own unique artistic styles all come together to produce an entirely unique final product. Working since the mid 80s, da Silva herself seems to continue refining and experimenting with the technique, even after all this time, and with no apparent deficiency of enthusiasm!
Trying da Silva’s process during the tutorial; photos by Adam Couitt ’18.