Eric Silva Volume 38.2 Preview

 
NECKLACE of shed deer antler, sterling, lava, 7.6 x 182.9 x 2.5 centimeters, hand-carved, hand-fabricated chain, 2014. Photograph by Shana Crawford.

NECKLACE of shed deer antler, sterling, lava, 7.6 x 182.9 x 2.5 centimeters, hand-carved, hand-fabricated chain, 2014. Photograph by Shana Crawford.

Eric Silva
The Mystery of Objects

Eric Silva starts each day surfing, whether the waves are Southern California perfect or the ocean is rough and unwelcoming. He may take one or two of his four sons and often meets his friends at the beach. Despite the company, surfing for him is a solitary endeavor. It engages him completely and relieves the pressures generated by owning his own business. He proclaims, “It’s my joy!”

      After returning home he steps out of his door to the detached garage that has been his studio for the past eighteen or so years. One of his assistants begins work before he arrives, skillfully assembling components of his production jewelry. Preferring to create in solitude, Silva often just helps her organize supplies and oversees progress, then returns later in the day or at night to design new works or carve elements that will be incorporated into one-of-a-kind creations.

The “cluttered organized” studio, in Whittier, outside of Los Angeles, is filled with tools and raw materials, thrift store acquisitions and oversized tables. The central maple table is about five by six feet and is where he and his assistants work, with their pliers, stones and wire accessible in the middle. His jewelers bench, an oak table, and a steel cabinet table are special—his great-grandfather Joe made the steel one, and his maternal grandfather, Joe’s son, “Little Charlie,” made the first two. He says of Little Charlie, “He always gave me anything I needed to make a shop. I always had a helper.” Silva keeps beads in antique wooden machinists chests and jewelry is organized in an old card catalog. A little hallway houses grinding tools for cutting gems, and additional areas outside are home to his anvil and blacksmith materials. He describes the spaces as “my little world.”

 

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Ashley Callahan is an independent scholar and curator in Athens, Georgia, with a specialty in modern and contemporary American decorative arts. She has written books and curated exhibitions on sisters Ilonka and Mariska Karasz, Hungarian-born modern designers based in New York, and Henry Eugene Thomas, a Colonial Revival furniture craftsman from Athens. Her book Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion will be published by the University of Georgia Press in December. She met with Eric Silva when he attended the American Craft Council show in Atlanta and appreciated his willingness to speak with her about his work, art, surfing, thrifting, and the craft world.

Sara Owens Volume 38.1 Preview

Sara Owens: Inspiring Wonder

PROTEUS SERIES BROOCH/SCULPTURE CONVERTIBLES of bone, brass, coffee filters, formed, fabricated, papier-mâché, largest: 12.7 centimeters, 2008-2011. ADAPTATION #5 RING of sterling silver, wool, formed, fabricated, needle felted, 10.2 centimeters, 2014. ADAPTATION #3 BROOCH of sterling silver, wool, formed, fabricated, needle felted, 10.2 centimeters, 2014.

At first glance, Sara Owens’s island studio appears to be the private study of a naturalist with a taste for the mysterious. A large vitrine displays half a dozen objects that seem to come from the natural world, though not a world most of us have seen. Some of the palm-sized objects are bulbous, metallic forms attached at odd angles to bits of bone. Others look like tiny meteorites mated to decaying seedpods. Nearby a wooly brown lifeform of some kind—moss? bacteria?—has settled comfortably into the center of a metal mesh saucer.

If the objects make you think about what they might be and how they came to look the way they do, Owens, who made them all, would be pleased. Above all, she says, “I want my work to inspire wonder.” Owens is a jewelrymaker and every one of the objects is a brooch. The pieces represent her fascination with the idea that in the natural world, design follows function. They are also testament to her enthusiastic exploration of materials, particularly nontraditional materials. One of the hallmarks of her work is an ability to coax evocative texture and shape out of materials as mundane as paper coffee filters and hardware-store sink drains.