[This article from Gordon K. Uyehara is actually the introduction to his new book, Metal Clay Fusion: Diverse Clays, Detailed Techniques, Artful Projects, which has already achieved No. 1 bestseller status on Amazon in the Jewelry category. I thought it made for a lovely blog post introducing people to Gordon's voice as an author and artist. See photographs of a few of Gordon's 22 graceful, inspiring projects from the book below and in this earlier blog post.]
Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls. — Joseph Campbell
Just words? If I hadn’t experienced it myself, I probably wouldn’t believe it. I understand now. For if it weren’t true, I wouldn’t be writing this book. Nor would I be spending hours planning workshops, sketching designs, sitting hunchedbacked over a cluttered table obsessing over details, or daydreaming about my next metal clay creation.
I knew I wanted to be an artist. The desire was there, but I wasn’t sure of the medium in which I wanted to create. I remember being open to trying different things, and I can rationally speak of the events—like the blurb in the alternative newspaper—that led to my first class in silver clay. What transpired after, however, is harder to explain.
The near obsessive compulsion to create with silver clay in the face of a dwindling savings account and the feeling of spending way too many hours on something that might just lead to nothing, go beyond logic. Yet, I plowed forward, ignoring the part of my brain that questioned, “Was this just an unhealthy preoccupation?” and I shared my creations, entered competitions, and connected with other silver-clay fanatics.
What followed were numerous, exceedingly kind comments from strangers (many now my friends) encouraging me on, inquiries about my work, invitations to teach, and editors asking me to write articles. These were the doors opening before me, and some at just the right time. I stepped through them, often with apprehension, and now continue to go forth with eager anticipation of what is still to come.
One thing I will mention, since it brings everything full circle, is that the same alternative newspaper that caught my interest many years ago published a short blurb about my Saul Bell Award. It appeared in the back of the paper, in the same place as the original paragraph about the class. That event is one of the many things I credit to synchronicity rather than mere coincidence. The lessons I take are to always be open to possibilities and to keep searching until you find what you enjoy doing. And, then, to appreciate it once you find it.
It is nearly impossible to write a book on metal clay without setting some kind of limit on the coverage. Metal clay is a young medium still finding its place. Yet, there are already a myriad of techniques and active experiments always in progress. So frequent are the rumors of new clay types and new complementary products that any snapshot in time is instantly lacking. In fact, as I began writing this book, many new clay types were being announced. Metal clay truly is a moving target.
So, the projects presented here are easily adapted to the various clay types, and the designs are customizable. I always design first, so you may notice that none of the projects are conceived around a technique. Rather, the techniques are provided to fulfill a design goal. The included artist contributions show the variety and excellence of work being created.
Metal clay is no fad. Enjoy the adventure.