Meira, you have described the search for your own professional identity and becoming an artist, a journey of self-discovery that took you to several countries to find your own genuine path. Why metal clay and jewelry making?
I can honestly say finding metal clays was a lucky accident. As you mentioned the road that has brought me to this day has been long. In the autumn of 2008 I had some email exchange with my father regarding my career search related frustrations, as he asked me if I had ever thought about making jewelry. Well, I hadn't. But the idea grew roots, and as a casual web search for goldsmith studies popped up ”silver clay courses” at a nearby studio, I decided to go and see if jewelry making would interest me at all. On my way there I wondered what is this strange “silver clay” material I had previously heard nothing about… The course lasted for two hours and, in all honesty, the piece I made in that time wasn't really mind-blowing. But I had been irrevocably hooked: I realized the potential of this wonderfully formable material, and returned home full of enthusiasm. Metal clays have kept me captivated since then.
How important do you think was the role of the instructor in your own self-discovery?
Very important! I've been fortunate to have such kind and talented instructors. All the knowledge and skills I've learned from Astari and Ari-Pekka during these years have been really helpful. Already in my first workshops I saw beautiful jewelry made by Astari and I was thrilled to see what could be done with silver clay! Seeing her great talent has inspired me greatly and has encouraged me to challenge myself as well.
You have talked about the global metal clay community and how there is a free exchange of ideas and knowledge using social media like Facebook, Pinterest etc. As an artist, how important do you think it is to have a social media presence these days?
It is a great channel and tool, and the metal clay community is using that quite actively. It provides us a chance to meet like-minded people and see works of other artists, which can be very inspiring. Also you can learn a lot when you see how others have solved issues you might have been struggling with. If you are working alone and learning alone you'll also make all the mistakes alone. Though making mistakes can be very educating, sometimes it's good if you can avoid them by learning from others – this is where the metal clay community can be very helpful. I've been glad to see how people are willing to share their experience and help each other, no matter if they are already experienced artists themselves or still beginners with metal clay.
A nice example of our online activity are the design challenge competitions that Metal Clay Europe is arranging on its Facebook page. So far I've participated in only one of those, but I love the idea. Participating in contests is one of the best ways to challenge yourself!
You have really taken to New Mokume Gane as a signature specialty. What is the appeal in this technique for you?
When I first saw pieces made with the NMG-technique I couldn't wait to learn it myself. Astari had just received the training in Japan and I had to wait sooooo long (half a year or so) before the first NMG seminar was arranged in Finland. I like contrasts and details everywhere, in music and paintings, drawings... In NMG, I love the contrast of different metals and the details you can make there, sometimes just with a few lines. I use mostly silver and copper but I also like the combination of bronze and copper.
When you create a piece, what is the most important characteristic that you look for?
In my pieces I'd like to find a balance of form and in the materials so that would please the eye. So, in one word, I guess it would be about aesthetics. It's mostly just my intuition I'm following, but I believe it's also a thing you can learn and practice.
What are your personal goals for the future?
Now that I've figured out the materials I love to work with and that I enjoy making of jewelry (and it's not just a passing enthusiasm) I wish to learn more. I believe I now have a rough idea where my strengths lie, but I'm also recognizing better those areas I need improvement on. Realizing these things has made me take some steps during this Spring, and now I am looking forward and if one of those doors will open and lead me closer to my goals. I believe I'm just at the beginning of an exciting journey in the world of jewelry making, and I'm eager to learn more!
I wish that when I am old I can look back at my life and see that I've reached the potential I've been given and that I've been helping others reach their potential as well - not only in the art world but also life in general. However, above this all, I wish to always remember that the greatest thing is Love.
I wish enjoyable moments with metal clays for everyone!