Arist Bio: Victoria Lansford

by Metalwerx on June 28, 2018

A day in the life of Victoria Lansford is multifaceted to say the least- it is a masterful balancing act, consisting of business work, writing for one of her many books or blogs, creating instructional videos, and most importantly creating stunning work in metal.

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For those of you that are not acquainted with Victoria’s metal working, it cannot be easily summed up in one sentence. With spiraling filigree, voluminous chasing and repoussé, and flourishing calligraphy, her work is not confined to one style, technique, or scale.  However all of her work has strong roots in historical metalsmithing. Her techniques encompass traditions from ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, and even metal working found along the Silk Road. Her dedication to historical metalsmithing has garnered a greater interest and appreciation for historical techniques in our contemporary jewelry culture.  Victoria’s passion and dedication for preserving these techniques, is evident by her fervent attention to teaching worldwide, as well as through her online videos, workshops, books, and blog.

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Taking a closer look at Victoria’s work, you will also find a great attention to line quality; using broad gestured curves, which speak the language of movement. With each piece, your eye can’t help but follow these lines; as if the artwork is begging you do a choreographed dance.  So, it will come as no surprise that Victoria was once a professional jazz and modern dancer.  After an injury which left her unable to dance, Victoria was in search of a new passion to pursue.  Metal had been an interest of Victoria’s since she was small child, so it only seemed natural this would become the next chapter of her life. Victoria recalls the first moment she fell in love with idea of jewelry making.  As said by Victoria “The Christmas I was five years old a friend gave me a very strange board game, called Voice of the Mummy.  I became completely mesmerized by the ancient Egyptian artwork all over the game and then obsessed with the metalwork from the New Kingdom dynasties.  I desperately wanted to know how the work was created and promised myself one day I’d learn”. In the fall of 1989 she began her studies in jewelry and silversmithing at Georgia State University where she studied under Richard Mafong and artist in residence Gia Gogishvilli.  Victoria was instantly captivated, and would later go on to establish the Metalsmithing Department at Spruill Center for the Arts.

Victoria Lansdord-jewelry     “Majestic” / “Return to Stardust” earrings by Victoria Lansford 

 

One might wonder, “how does she do it all, and still have time to make jewelry?”  We asked Victoria how she manages her studio-life balance, and this is what she said…

“My studio is in my home. On perfect days, I wake up before everyone else, sneak down the hall still in my pajamas, and begin drawing. Unfortunately, there are very few perfect days.  Most days I immediately get sucked into my Mac and the 4+ hours/day it takes to manage the business side of being a professional artist, writer, metalsmithing product developer, and educator.

I work on more pieces at one time than I can even keep track of.  Seriously, there are about 15-20 pieces going at any one time with another 30-50 on hold, waiting for me to get back to them. About 75% of these are metal/jewelry and 25% are drawings, calligraphic pieces, or Medieval inspired illuminated miniatures… Jumping around keeps me more creative and less mired in all the grunt work that metalsmithing sometimes requires.”

 

Victoria Lansdord-jewelry2 “Starlit Nights” filigree earrings / “Relativity Navigator” by Victoria Lansford

 

While Victoria is actively working in her studio, she can be found listening to an array of jazz, funk, and disco, interspersed with BBC Radio. In her words “my left brain needs a problem to solve while my right brain is being creative”.   We suspect Victoria may have listened to a lot of BBC recently as she just completed a couple of large scale projects for a bespoke, 69 meter long  super yacht.   The first piece was a room divider, comprised of 104 etched copper panels, each one artfully designed to interlock and create an underwater scene.   The second project was a 61” by 82” Eastern repoussé relief of two sea turtles!

Victoria- Turtle Pic                          Copper “Turtle Screen” relief by Victoria Lansford

When asked to leave us with a tip for our readers, Victoria said “I tell my students I “play chicken” with metal, trying to get it to do things that haven’t been done quite that way before and daring it to work”

Learn more from Victoria during her Elegant Sculptural Rings (August 8-10, 2018), and Russian Filigree (August 11-12, 2018) Summer with the Masters workshop at Metalwerx in Waltham, MA.

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Over, under, over, under, over, under…. music quietly running threw her head phones. All you can hear is the sound of metal wires lightly brushing against each other. The level of concentrations is palpable as Sharon’s fingers carefully bend and manipulate the metal wires of the woven pod she is sculpting. It is a process that requires precise calculations, and many hours of slowly weaving thin gauge copper wire in and out.

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Sharon Stafford has one of those infectious studio practices, that makes you want to settle into your bench and just work! It is apparent in her ZEN like attitude, that Sharon enjoys the process of making. Nothing is rushed, and when she is unhappy with the work she has completed you can find her delicately unweaving her weft.

When asked what inspires her, Sharon simply says “the inspiration comes from the work itself- the process, the techniques and the forms”, though you may notice some natural forms appearing in Sharon’s work as well, pods, leafs, and tendrils. Sharon considers these motifs more of a subconscious inspiration rather than fully intentional.  Take for example Sharon’s “Copperseed Pods” sculptural vessel, which is currently on view at the Society of Arts and Crafts in the Seaport District, Boston! This piece is part of the traveling exhibition “All things Considered 9: Basketry in the 21st Century” on view until June 9th!  Sharon remembers this piece to have been a “wondrous experience in making” as it morphed and grew into beautiful textures and forms.

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But basketry and sculptural weaving aren’t the only skills she’s mastered; Sharon also makes unique jewelry that primarily combines traditional silver smithing with fold forming and metal crochet.  Sometimes these fold forms even find themselves woven into a basket, such as Sharon’s “Coiled Cup” which earned her the Jurors Choice Recognition in the Lewton-Brain Foldform Competion in 2016! One of Sharon’s signature jewelry pieces is her Crochet Wire Scarf; these scarves vary in color, thickness, and are sometimes adorned with pearls or precious stones. These lightweight wire scarfs delicately drape around the wearer’s neck, and can be worn in a multitude of ways… twisted in the front…laying parallel on the body…or doubled up and asymmetrical… the wearer decides!

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Sharon is constantly making, at home and in the Metalwerx studio- which certainly means a lot of wear and tear on her hands and wrists, so this year Sharon has changed her studio practice to be less repetitive. This means each piece takes a little bit longer to complete, but she is working on more pieces at once. When writing this blog post, I walked back to snap a couple of photos of Sharon at work, to no surprise she was weaving a gorgeous new piece. There she was with her giant project board, covered in graph paper, and wires coming out from seemingly every direction! Undoubtedly part of the art of weaving wire is proactively preventing the loose wires from turning into a giant knot!

To get a sneak peek into Sharon’s process visit our youtube page at the link below to see Sharon weaving!

And to learn more about Sharon and her work visit the Society of Arts and Craft on Friday May 25th, at 12pm for her Gallery Talk! ASLO: Don’t miss her work in the 2018 Biennial Member Exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum, on view until October 7th 2018.

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