From the city to the studio: solving fabrication challenges with Alison Antelman

by Metalwerx on May 5, 2015

Alison Antelman studied television production but, bitten by the metal bug, began to to explore the world of jewelry making. Today she is a multi-award winning artist who has come full circle.

Alison’s work is easily recognizable. Her jewelry sparkles with natural stones set in recycled gold against a backdrop of lustrous, oxidized silver. It fittingly recalls the cityscapes of Manhattan near New Jersey where she grew up. There is one particular landmark  she will never forget. “The Empire State Building,” she recalled. “That image always stayed with me. That and the lights reflecting off the water.”

Metropolis Bracelet

“Metropolis III” bracelet, by Alison Antelman.

Alison’s jewelry brings to mind what she describes as a city’s “canyons and peaks,” an urban landscape transferred to the body, teeming with energy and liveliness. Her technique and execution for “Metropolis Bracelet” garnered First Place in the 2014 Charles Lewton-Brain Foldforming Competition, as well as a Juror’s Choice for her “Hanging Garden Ring.” A necklace from her Hanging Gardens collection, characterized by her signature foldformed spiculums and 18 karat gold cable, earned her a 2015 Niche Award in the silver category. The prestigious honor is sponsored by Niche Magazine to recognize excellence and innovation in fine craft.

Hanging Garden Ring

“Hanging Garden Ring in Red” by Alison Antelman.

 Alison met her husband, Eric, during her last semester at Emerson College in Boston. The two were ready for a change, so they headed to the West Coast in search of a walkable city with less intimidating weather. The Bay Area fit the bill. She maintains a studio in the historic Sawtooth Building in West Berkeley. Her introduction to metals began at City College of San Francisco and continued at the Richmond Art Center, north of Berkeley, where she taught for two years from 2006 to 2008.

“One of the great things about teaching is that you are exposed to so much. When students wanted to learn something, we’d just sit down and play,” she said. Her urban-inspired designs arose from such sessions.

“When you’re playing with foldforming, things seep into your mind. I had been playing with foldforming, I’d been making spiculums, I’d done foldforming in spiculums, I had three craft shows (coming up), and I was moving into a new space. So much was happening,” she said.

The new environment gave her a motivational surge, the end result being her first “Metropolis” bracelet. Her husband urged her to enter the foldforming competition, because, as he said, she already had the photos. “It’s nice to have someone push you into it.” Incidentally, Eric is an expert small-parts photographer. He handles the graphic design, photography, and her website, and she does everything else. She wears many hats!

She has no assistants and makes all her jewelry herself. She loves the spiculum form and uses no special tools, only her beloved Peddinghaus hammer and a block of wood. Her unique keyhole clasps are beautifully incorporated to her bracelets and necklaces, and can be “morphed” to anyone’s design style. She is currently developing a collection in her Horizon series that she calls “Glimmering Sunshine,” inspired by the “fireball sunsets” that she sees in California.

Glimmering Sunshine necklace

“Glimmering Sunshine” necklace by Alison Antelman.

Alison comes to Metalwerx June 17-20 to teach “Engineering Your Way Out: Alternative Fabrication Solutions.” It is geared to advanced beginners with basic fabrication and soldering skills and professionals. In the class, Alison will share her tips for solving common design and fabrication challenges. Students will complete a hinged bracelet or necklace with a hand-made clasp, and will learn to create a “map” of their project—a personal blueprint of the process that gives the maker a reference as the piece evolves. The workshop is the first of Metalwerx’s annual Summer with the Masters Series.

Alison Antelman with tools

Alison at the Crested Butte Art Fair, Crested Butte, CO.

Alison’s work is featured in the Belmont, Massachusetts gallery Alchemy 925 exhibit, “The Power and the Beauty.” The juried exhibit coincides with The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) conference (May 20-23, Boston) and includes more than 25 contemporary jewelry artists. SNAG attendees can see the exhibit on the Thursday night Exhibition Crawl or the Saturday evening Gallery Hop.

While in Boston, Alison hopes to visit the Edgar Allen Poe statue in the Boston Common. She is a great fan of the native son who had much disdain for his hometown. “His writing is phenomenal,” she said. “The whole way he uses language and description, you could get a picture! He’s scary and it appeals to some ghoulish part of me.” Every October, she pulls out her book of Poe stories to read.

Boston statue of Edgar Allen Poe

E.A. Poe on his way to work at the corner of Boylston and Charles streets, Boston.

Click here to learn more about and register for Alison’s workshop, or contact Metalwerx at 781-891-3857.

—by Yleana Martinez

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