This week, blogger June Martin of Moth & Twig interviewed Barbara Battilega Brosh of Barb's Metal Magic! Barbara's work is truly unique, organic, and beautiful. Find out more about Barbara and her work!
How long have you been a part of Artistic Portland, and what appealed to you about joining the Co-op?
I joined in January 2015. I wanted to have a place to showcase my work and didn’t want to do shows any longer.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the Portland area. I lived in San Jose, CA for about nine years and then moved back to Portland. I also lived in Seattle for a year.
What’s your background?
I am a retired RN but I have always had an interest in jewelry. I’ve done a lot of other things too, such as working as a billing clerk and a secretary. I trained as a nursing assistant at Stanford University Hospital and worked there from 1969 to 1971. I moved back to Portland after a trip across the country for two months. I worked at Good Samaritan Hospital for a couple of years, and then I got married. After having two children I went back to school at the age of 40 and became a RN. I worked in hospitals and at a state prison. I also worked as a trainer in a nursing home and I’ve worked with the developmentally disabled. After I retired in 2007, I took classes in metalsmithing and jewelry making from 2009 to 2014.
Why do you do what you do?
I enjoy making unique pieces of jewelry. My copper and brass pieces are one-of-a-kind so no one will have the exact piece of jewelry as anyone else. I also enjoy wirewrapping stones and drusys.
Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
Unique, because I create things that are different. A good portion of my jewelry is organic and unique.
What types of materials do you like to work with and why?
I work mostly with copper, brass, and bronze. I like the looks of these metals and they fit my organic style. I also work with silver and my wire wrapping is mostly done with Argentium silver because of its slow tarnishing to non-tarnishing quality. I use sterling for the chains on my expensive pendants. For lower priced pendants, I use base metal or stainless steel chains. I also create roosters out of copper and then paint them with alcohol ink.
Where do you create?
I have a bedroom in my home that has been transformed into a studio.
What motivates your work?
Sometimes, something I see on the Internet or in books. Once inspired, I make it my own so that it is different from the item I have seen.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
I don’t have any rituals; I just start working on a piece. Sometimes I make a mistake. These mistakes have become some of my best work because they are really different from what I started to do.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created?
Yes, I love the pendant below! It was made from what was supposed to be a bracelet until it broke into 3 pieces. I added a carnelian and made a very organic bezel. I also made the earrings from one of the pieces.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new artistic skill, what would it be?
I would love to be a painter!
What do you like to do when you aren’t creating?
Read, watch TV, and travel.
Stop by Artistic Portland any day of the week 10am-6pm (noon-5 pm on Sundays) to see and purchase Barbara's work in person!
One of the many things I enjoy about being a member of Artistic Portland is that I get to witness what each and every member creates. I feel their spirit that is expressed in their artwork.
As I sit here in my office, I look around and see the collection of art from some of our Artistic Portland members. I would like to tell you a little bit about some of what I have collected.
First and newest to my collection are my beeswax candles by Bee Lux. These candles are molded candles from 100% local beeswax. I wish you could smell them; they smell like honey that has been mellowed by powder. I love beeswax, I use it as an emulsifier in my Gifts From the Earth skin care line.
This is art that I know will not last, after all they are candles, but they are truly magical and I will enjoy them every time I light them!
I have been in love with Denise’s pods for a very long time. Each one is unique and has its own texture and glaze combination. Here is what has been written about her pods, they are “small ceramic sculptures reminiscent of plants, seed pods, and ocean creatures. Sometimes they come out as functional objects like salt and pepper shakers and tiny jars but mostly they end up being non-functional pod forms for home decor as well as wall art. The artist feels these natural forms mimic life at the cellular level, which looks very like the shapes and forms seen in every day animal and plant life.”
Sometimes I catch myself staring at them, seeing each detail like you would when you notice things in nature.
Ben Gilbert Crayons and Cardboard
I have watched Ben’s work flourish from the start of his membership in our Co-op. He has an excellent eye and isn’t afraid to experiment with texture or color. I own a piece that I call Pigeon and Ball, it is simple but the texture brings it to life.
He also did one for me of my cat Leo that passed at the beginning of the year. It is lovely.
Sally Galore – Fricken Cute
Sally creates amazing oversized fabric wallets/mini clutch that will not only act as your wallet but as a place to carry your phone and keys. Her fabric choices are sensational! And the craftsmanship is great. I love the whimsical feeling of her work.
I would sum up my ever growing collection as colorful and delicious. It says something about what I need to be nurtured within my own home. What makes it special to me is knowing that one person sat down and poured their energy into their avenue of beauty. As a natural skincare maker I am thrilled to know that I am part of many peoples’ rituals and daily lives. I hope each and every artist knows how special their gifts are to me. Watch out artists! Time to add to the collection…
Marianne Wilson Stein – Creator of Luscious Beauty and owner of Gifts From the Earth.
This week's blog post was written by Fiber Artist Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida.
My parents were both artists, and all four of their children went into various art fields. My three brothers and I had very interesting childhoods with a lot of craziness, drama, and the usual dysfunction, but most important lots and lots of laughs. In my 30+ years of doing art fairs and teaching art to kids and adults I noticed one thing the most creative people have in common—a full appreciation of funny stuff. Why is it that so many creative people have great senses of humor? In her book InGenius, Stanford Professor Tina Seelig writes "Creative people have apparently mastered the art of turning off parts of the frontal lobes of their brains to let their ideas flow more smoothly, unleashing their imagination.” When you are feeling creative, you tend feel less inhibited and more playful.
I have always tried to find the humor in everything. Life is just more fun that way! I taught art and gifted kids for 19 years, and I tried to inject humor as much as possible daily. As a result, I became pretty accomplished at unleashing the creative talents in my students.
I love art history, but this can be boring to teach. I found the artist series “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists,” by Mike Venezia, to be a terrific way to teach kids and adults about famous artists. If you have not read any of his books, I highly recommend them all. They are full of great information along with his comic illustrations relating to each artist.
So when you are working on a project and feel stuck, stop and try to find the humor. It is there somewhere, waiting for you to discover it and enjoy the laugh!