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Q&A with silversmith Stan Plotner
November 20, 2012 - Mohawk Currents
Micropolis, the arts cooperative/gallery based at Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market in downtown Gloversville, will host a meet-the-artists reception on the evening of Friday, Nov. 30. The event will feature work by silversmith Stan Plotner of Bleecker, and it also will introduce four new member artists to the organization. (Look for an upcoming post here on Mohawk Currents for profiles of the four newcomers.)
Stan will be on hand at the gallery for most of the day Nov. 30 to discuss his work with visitors. He agreed to answer a few questions about his work:
How long have you worked with silver, and how have you learned and developed your techniques in that time?
My basic metalworking training started in High School and continued with a Bachelors and Masters in Industrial Arts Education. It has been supplemented by numerous workshops at Peter’s Valley craft Center in NJ and Haystack Mountain School in Maine. I worked my way through college making and selling jewelry. Except for a ten-year hiatus during which I created metal sculpture, I have been making jewelry since 1953.
What sort of tools do you use in crafting a piece of metal jewelry?
Hand tools such as jeweler’s saws, files, raising hammers and various raising stakes, power buffers, flexible shaft and various abrasive materials are the basic tools of the trade. Specialized tools for casting, soldering, and chasing (building volumetric forms by hammering with blunt tools on a resilient surface such as pitch) are also utilized. I have made many of my own tools as well.
How long does it take you to complete a typical piece?
This is always a difficult question as there is a great deal of time spent designing, contemplating and working out details of construction. I am not a production jeweler. Each piece is unique and presents challenges, which need to be worked out as compared to a situation where once the prototype is made mass production, follows at a much faster rate.
In the artist statement on your website, you mention your influences include Bauhaus, Scandinavian Modern and High Tech Industrial Design. Could you explain what features of these styles are important for you and how they are reflected in your work?
Each piece of jewelry should be an artistic statement. The value of each piece is determined by the design, uniqueness, and wearability, rather than the intrinsic dollar value of the materials and encrustation of gemstones. The above-mentioned movements enhanced my design sensitivity.??
How would you say you have benefited from your involvement with the? Micropolis collective?
Showing my work at Micropolis has given me the opportunity to present the concept of wearable art to the local community. It is important to me to share my artistic experience with a community where exposure to this kind of work is limited. As a teacher, I am always happy to offer guidance and information and inspiration to young and beginning students in the field.
Do you have any other exhibitions or events coming up that you'd like people to know about?
At this point in my life, I work mostly on commissions and am always open to inquiries for special pieces. It interests me to incorporate items of special meaning into custom designed anniversary or celebratory jewelry. Anyone wishing to see my work can come to Micropolis on Friday, November 30, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Stan Plotner is shown at work on a piece of metal jewelry, at right. At left is one of his finished pieces.