Meet the Masters: Andrew Cooperman

by Metalwerx on July 8, 2013

A jewelry-making class that includes “some really bad jokes” makes me want to sign up right away! Sometimes, during a workshop tackling a complicated technique, a little bit of humor goes a long way to take the edge off the tension. A teacher who recognizes this can be viewed as blessedly generous.

Meet  Andy Cooperman, whose goal in the classroom is to mingle rigorous metalsmithing concepts with “the simple and astounding joy of making.” In a university setting or at a community arts and crafts center, Andy does all he can to bridge the academic and non-academic worlds. Nothing gets him going like seeing light bulbs go off in his students’ heads and realizing he has communicated.


Ring by Andrew Cooperman

 

It’s not surprising, given that Andy has a bachelor’s degree in English (and a second one in art). A well-told tale with an end you didn’t see coming makes him quite happy. And if it’s a funny story with a “pun-chline,” the world is better served because laughter is a communal, unifying exercise. Jokes and word games, along with solid information, shortcuts, tricks, and useful studio tips are on the syllabus in Andy’s class, “Imaginative Captures,” which happens July 31 through August 4 at Metalwerx.

It might be a writer’s cheap shot to link Andy’s iconic rubber-chicken jewelry to a potential roast at the Friar’s Club. But the rings and necklaces which contain the novelty gag (plastic, not rubber) is to Andy Cooperman as molded glass is to Rene Lalique, and not only because of the items’ Cooperman-classic droll titles: The “Ring-tisserie (Weber),” a trimmed bird on a spit that turns on a tiny crank, or the “Chicken Choker,” a neckpiece of sterling and 14 karat gold with headless plastic chickens strung between pearls. These and other works were included in the book, Humor In Craft, a Gold Medal winner of the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards.


pin by Andrew Cooperman

 

Of all his pun-titled pieces, “Chicken Choker” is his favorite because it works on so many levels. “Puns can be complex and sophisticated,” he wrote in an email interview. “The choker unfolds and lobs these balls of discomfort into alternate courts. The observer who does not understand the adult puns/references  involved—there are two—is uncomfortable in their unknowing.” (Readers, you may now laugh covertly.)

Andy continues: “But then it’s the other person’s turn, the one who does know the references. The discomfort there lies in the decision whether to try and explain the naughty puns or just gloss it over.  It’s delicious. I’ve seen it happen.”

 

Whether some of his jewelry elicits chuckles or confounded looks, there is no question that the construction in all his work will leave the viewer soundly impressed. His one-of-a-kind belt buckles, brooches, earrings, pendants and neckpieces feature excellent workmanship, unique settings, and sometimes, unusual materials such as melted ping pong balls or copal, an amber-like tree resin.

In his workshop, Andy will break down the basic principles behind stone setting so that students can discover new solutions for enamels, found objects, and gemstones, going beyond bezels and prongs. He calls this “capturing.” He’ll have on hand a materials kit for a small fee that includes stones and a variety of objects, such as fake eyeballs (“taxidermy peepers”) and—bada bing!—tiny plastic chickens.


pin by Andy Cooperman

 

Eyeballs are objects laden with meaning to him. Andy almost lost his sight permanently when a few years ago, the retinas separated from the membranes in the back of his eyes. While enduring multiple operations to correct the problem, he battled depression at first by writing, and then by remodeling the studio.

“I started writing these state of affairs essays that I emailed to everyone. They were frank and honest— and really funny. It really got to people,” he said. “So did remodeling the studio. I couldn’t hit the nail on the head, literally. So I just kept trying. Kept pounding nails. Kept doing. The doing and the writing saved me.”

No doubt an appreciation for a good laugh and his optimistic wife, Kim, also helped get him through it. “It’s just hardwired. My parents and sisters have great—even wicked–senses of humor. Speaking for myself , and I think my family, too, I see the world through that often dark, humor filter,” he said. “That blend of light and dark, of peril and laughter is powerful and seductive. And it saved me.”

Students wishing to register online for “Imaginative Captures” with Andy Cooperman may do so here. For more information, visit Metalwerx.com, or call 781-891-3854.

–by Yleana Martinez

 

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