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Inside the Studio :: Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati Jewelry

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio,
creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our
readers and hope you’ll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free
prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we
choose a random winner.
Congratulations, Annette Bond! You have won a $25 gift voucher for either the jewellery shop or the  bead shop of Claire Lockwood.  Please send Claire an email with your information.

This week we visit the studio of Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati Jewelry.

Five years ago this month I was asked to join a brand new artist’s cooperative gallery in Stevens Point called Gallery Q. The idea was to bring together local artists in a gallery where they could exhibit their work and sell it. I was requested to join them and it was a huge leap of faith for me. I wasn’t sure that I had what it took to be a part of something like that, but was very honored to have been asked. After all, I don’t have a degree in art, so could I really be considered an ‘artist’? That concept sometimes still niggles at my brain and provides me with moments of self-doubt.

Since I joined I had a lot of time to get to know about arts management, from working the desk to hanging the shows. In 2010 my fellow artists talked me into putting on  my own solo exhibit. I found it hard to come up with a concept that was worthy of filling an entire gallery until the day that I was working in the gallery admiring all the beautiful local art. That is when it hit me that I would be inspired by the art on those walls like I was inspired by the art each month here at Art Bead Scene. It was one of the single most successful gallery exhibit that we ever had at the Gallery Q.

Flash forward to today. Last November I pitched an idea for a collaborative show to celebrate five years of local art. I tentatively called it the ‘Hidden Q’ show and my concept was inspired by the hidden Mickey’s that you can find in any Disney property. Everywhere you look you can spot those famous ears… in signage, on wrought iron railings, in carpeting. They are subtle but a part of the culture.

My idea was much the same… put a hidden Q in each art piece, no matter the medium. You can imagine that some people were right on board from the moment I pitched it, and others were a bit more apprehensive. After all, they justified, you can’t sell artwork with Qs in it, could you? But it didn’t have to be overtly a Q…. it could be a curlicue, or a cue stick, or a queue… and it could be as obvious as large Q. Over the ensuing months, just about every artist in the Gallery Q jumped in, as well as some artists who had been represented there in the past.

Then the Master Gardeners approached us. They put on a very well attended Garden Parade at various home gardens throughout the area in mid-July. They asked if we would be willing to be a stop on the Garden Parade where they would have the Master Gardeners select some art to inspire special floral arrangements. How could you say no to that sort of collaboration?

I created the poster above to help publicize the event. And this weekend is the big gallery changeover, where all the art on all the walls comes down and the new show is set. This will be the biggest gallery exhibit yet! And while I am ‘in charge’, I am very cognizant of the fact that this is very much a show for every artist and a way to bring more attention to our Gallery Q. I will be making up a scavenger hunt that will feature all the Hidden Q art so that patrons can have fun looking for the Qs and enter for a chance to win a total of five prizes totaling $500 in gift certificates to buy art from the Q. I am even having a local bakery artist create an exact replica of that poster for a special birthday cake!

For my art, I decided that I would focus on fonts. I am a font junkie, so this was my chance to create a set of sculptural pieces that use the Q as the primary structure. I have always been a fan of Alexander Calder’s jewelry and I wanted this to be my nod to his genius using common materials in unexpected ways.

I got out my Now That’s a Jig from Brenda Schweder and started playing with forms and shapes until I found something I liked. From there it all sort of fell into place. I used dark annealed steel wire, hammered a special texture and created these links one by one. Nearly ruined my fingers in the process! One link got the special treatment with gold leaf. This is just a close up detail of the links. I wore this statement necklace to the recent Bead & Button show and it garnered a lot of attention from some important directions, so I can’t really share the whole thing with you…yet. I will certainly be making more pieces with this similar style. I call this ‘AlphabetiQ‘ … do you see the Q?

As I was making this I started to see visions of other letters and I will be pursuing where that will lead. I am excited about having a direction for some new work and think that it will be quite interesting. I am excited that my ‘AlphabetiQ’ necklace is one of 14 chosen for the Garden Parade from all the entries, and I can’t wait to see how my necklace will inspire the floral designer!

Since I can’t very well sell that piece, I came up with another font based design that I call ‘Q Marks the Spot’. These copper and brass pendants are each unique with their stamped textures and markings, but have the same abstract structure. I only started with eight of them since I thought they might not go over well. I was worried that my artistic vision could be deemed too weird. But now I think that I will likely have to create more of these since one of them sold to a woman who stopped into the Gallery Q before I even had them in the POS system and the show doesn’t open until July!

I may not have gone to school for my art but each time I get the chance to do gallery work and associate with these local peers I feel more and more at home with the moniker ‘artist’.

So that leads me to my question for you… do you think people are born as artists or do they have to learn to become one? Or both? What is your opinion?

The winner will receive a ‘Q Marks the Spot’ necklace that I will create just for you!