Art of the State Artist Interview – Susan Schulz

The fourth installment of the Art of the State Artist Interview series is PA Guild of Craftsmen member and jeweler extraordinaire, Susan Schulz. You can see from her work and her list of influences why I would want to feature her here. To see more of textured, super gemstoned work, visit her website, Schulz Studio, and of course, visit her earrings at Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2014 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania until September 14th.


susan schulz dreams of australia

Dreams of Australia ( the piece in Art of the State ) ©Susan Schulz opals, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds,18 & 14k gold, sterling

1. How did you get started in your craft?
As an Art major, I took classes mostly in drawing and painting. I wasn’t able to take a jewelry class until my senior year, but as soon as I picked up the saw and started making my first piece, that was it. I knew I had found what I wanted to do. Metalwork has an enormous variety of techniques and materials, and I continue to take workshops to expand my knowledge.

2.What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?
Seeing the amazing variety of gemstones, minerals, and fossils at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show has been inspiring. Every year there are new materials I’ve never seen before, with unusual patterns and textures I can’t wait to incorporate in my designs.

Twilight pendant ©Susan Schulz fossilized palm wood, sterling, sapphire

Twilight pendant ©Susan Schulz fossilized palm wood, sterling, sapphire

3.Who are your favorite artists in you field?
There are so many amazing metalsmiths- it’s really difficult to choose a few. I really like Alexander Calder’s forged jewelry- simple, direct, and whimsical. Michael Boyd’s amazing lapidary work and elegant designs. Claudio Pino’s outrageous, flamboyant rings, David Huang’s beautiful chased vessels.

4.What is your favorite customer quote or story?
My favorite customer quote is “I love it!” as they’re giving me a hug after they see their finished piece for the first time.

5.What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?
I can’t pick one! My favorite pieces remind me of a trip or the person who made the piece. A dot painting from Australia that inspired a series of pieces with opals and gold dots, a batik of the patron saint of Salvador, Brazil, a print of rock formations from a family trip to the Grand Canyon, and some funny ceramic animals my children made.

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Not Quite the Eye of Sauron

The red agate just isn't the right size for this project, unfortunately

The red agate just isn’t the right size for this project, unfortunately

This week I’ve been working on a new table sculpture. I decided to take a break from the silver vessel I’ve been working on to start this new project. I’m hoping that it might end up in the JAM Fall exhibition, but let’s not count our eggs before they’ve hatched…

Progression of the curve(s) while forging the outside of the line folds in copper ©2014 WTEK

Progression of the curve(s) while forging the outside of the line folds in copper ©2014 WTEK

This one has elements similar to Scorpius where I forge a line fold to make it curve around. I have two of these spikes (which I also think of as wings) that will rise up and have an integrated prong set flat agate slice suspended between them. It was going to be a fairly flat piece, meant to be looked at from the front & back, not really from the sides, but as I started to open the forged folds, the spikes began to twist. It made the design so much more dynamic!

The curved and helix-ed pices with the lavender agate ©2014 WTEK

The curved and helix-ed pices with the lavender agate ©2014 WTEK








I had two slices of agate that I could use -the rounder, dark red slice (aka Eye of Sauron) or a lighter, lavender-ish slice that is longer and not as round. While I love the eye-ness of the red piece, it really isn’t the right size or shape for this particular piece, so no Sauron this time, sorry.

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Art of the State Artist Interview: Domenick Naccarato

Markings: Seventy Two ©2014 Domenick Naccarato 25″ x 25″ | rust, paint, tar, bolts and other materials on steel | $375 archive #201403 This is another piece in my ongoing attempts to make some of my artwork look like I found it on the side of an industrial building or train box car.

This week I’m featuring artist Domenick Naccarato, who is someone whose work I only discovered via this year’s Art of the State. I was drawn to it immediately, and this statement on his website tells you why, “My current body of artwork has been described as textural, abstract, and industrial.” I love the rustiness, the colors, and the bolts and levers he incorporates into them. You can see more of his work at the Domenick Naccarato website, at his Etsy Shop online, and of course you can see his piece, Markings: Seventy Two, at Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2014 at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA through September 14th.

1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)

I’ve been making art since I was a kid. I started to take it seriously in high school and then pursue it in college, where I was first introduced to the ideas of creating non-representational art. In the sculpture studios we used to collect raw materials to eventually use in our work. In the beginning of my sophomore year, one of my classmates had come in with some wood and he put a piece down in front of me, which probably didn’t measure any bigger than 10” square. It had layers upon layers of peeling and cracked paint, was all worn and dried out, and looked like it had been run through the ringer… something he probably found in a dumpster somewhere. The back of it still had a couple nail heads stuck into it and paint splatters. He threw it down on the table in front of me, pointed to it, and sarcastically said, “That’s art.” I can still remember it like it was yesterday. It was like an epiphany and it just opened my eyes like they had never been before. That you could find beauty in something old, weathered, or worn out. … something that was accidental, or that otherwise looked like it just happened naturally over time. The art I make today is still a reflection of that.

One Pipe Fitting Tethered to Four Screws ©2013 Domenick Naccarato 12″ x 9″ | encaustic with mixed media on plywood

2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?

For my “day job”, I have to deal with a 45 minute commute into my office. Half of it is spent on back country farm roads, the other half is on the highway. I see surfaces and elements all the time that catch my eye… like little vignettes… whether its the side of a barn that’s in disrepair; or the back tailgate of big truck that has oil and water stains all over it; or the rusting steel on the side of a dumpster. These are the kinds of things that I keep in mind when I start a new piece.

Lately, a lot of my influence also comes from the various markings and lettering or numbers that I see on these surfaces. Most often times these go unnoticed as well, but the next time you’re driving down the PA Turnpike, take a look at how many random sets of numbers you see on trucks, the side of the road, on jersey barriers, or the backs of construction signs.

3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?

Painting #3 from the series: Small Encaustic Assemblages ©2014 Domenick Naccarato 9″ x 9″ x 1.5″ framed | encaustic, mixed media, and a bracket on plywood

If you had asked me this question five years ago, I probably would’ve rambled off the names of famous abstract artists that everyone and their mother knows. But to be honest, lately, my favorite artists have been my peers and folks that I’ve met locally where I live in the Lehigh Valley. In the past few years, I’ve come to know, and be accepted into, a huge visual arts community that is constantly amazing and inspiring me. I love the sculptural work of guys like Tom D’Angelo and Khalil Allaik; or the abstract paintings of Nancy Bossert and Michelle Neifert; or the collage work of Femi Johnson and Patti Tinsman Schaffer. Artists like them, and many more, are constantly producing work that quite simply humbles me.

4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?

Textured Color Fields No.1 ©2014 Domenick Naccarato 38″ x 26″ | paint, plaster, and oil stick on canvas | 2014 | archive #201425 | $750

I recently took part in an open studio tour down in Chester County. One of the afternoons I had a conversation with a customer who I had been describing some of my processes and influences to. He told me a story of how he used to ride a train into Philadelphia when he was a kid. And every so often he’d get out of his seat and go hang out between the train cars. He would stand there as the train was riding along, watching the scenes go by, but also staring down at the tracks and the components of the two train cars coupled together… the iron clasps, the bolts, the various mechanics… He said my work was reminiscent of the things he’d see while standing there and one piece in particular reminded him of those train rides.

5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?

I had an uncle who owned a flower shop at the base of the St. Regis hotel in NYC. Back in the 1970’s, Salvador Dali used to stay at that hotel and he would often come down to my uncle’s shop, rummage through the cases, and grab flowers to use in still lifes. Gala, Dali’s wife, would usually follow in behind him and pay for the flowers and any damage he did. Over the years, he also paid my uncle in artwork. I have a print of a young Christopher Columbus that he gave him. My uncle in turn gave it to me for trade of one of my paintings that I had done while still in school.

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