Artist Spotlight: Wendy Thurlow May 09 2020
When did you first become interested in creating jewelry?
My mother is a painter, so I grew up surrounded by art and was inspired to create art from a young age. It wasn’t until after high school, around 1995, that I found my direction. I was actively pursuing photography and ceramics when I took a silversmithing class at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. As soon as I lit the torch and started moving metal, I fell in love. I immediately changed directions and moved to Philadelphia to enroll in the Jewelry/Silversmithing Program at the University of the Arts.
How do you find that your style has changed over time?
While my work has always been refined and influenced by nature, my style has evolved over the years. My newer work leans towards abstraction, with textural and earthy qualities that reflect subtle nuances of the "perfectly imperfect".
What does a typical day in the studio look like?
I’d have to say it starts the night before. When finishing a workday in the studio I always clean and prepare for the next morning. I write a list of what needs to be done and layout all the necessary materials in trays so I’m ready to go in the morning. I have many pieces in different stages of progress so this process makes it easy for me to pick up and start where I left off the day before. Music is always playing in the background; I have Lilly and Harry my dogs to keep me company all day.
Image Above: Wendy Thurlow, Turquoise Wrap Ring, sterling silver, 18K gold, turquoise
You mention many of your pieces incorporate centuries-old techniques. Can you elaborate on this and briefly explain your process?
Many silversmithing techniques used today are the same as those used in medieval and ancient times. I love connecting to these ancient traditions in my work. I start by forging the metal by slowly moving and sculpting it until it takes on a new form and life. I then use heat to fuse layers of texture and add more details to each piece.
Where do you find inspiration when creating a new design?
I have a passion for travel and am fortunate to have visited many places. I look back at these travels for inspiration when creating jewelry. I often pull out my journals and photographs to search for shapes, fabrics, or textures to emulate; along with color combinations that may influence my choice of gemstones.
Are there any stones or unique materials that you enjoy working with the most? If so, please explain why.
Yes, I love being able to work with old coins and one-of-a-kind gemstones I find while traveling. These special “finds” remind of my journeys and I enjoy sharing them with the wearer.
Who are some artists that have had a strong influence on your style and why?
It is hard to pick, considering there have been many artists who have influenced me throughout my life. With that said, Georgia O’Keeffe stands out for pushing the limits of her time and looking at nature in a refreshingly abstract way. Her personal style and interpretation of subjects is something I have been drawn to and inspired by early on. I also love the work of Gustav Klimt, the symbolist painter and I am particularly drawn to work from his Golden Phase. His use of repetitive patterns, shapes, and color combinations have served as a source of inspiration in my own work.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Have confidence in yourself and your work. Be consistent, persistent, and never give up.
What are you working on now?
While this pandemic has derailed my production and workflow in the studio, I am fulfilling a lot of custom orders. I am also taking this time to play with new designs and finish work from remaining bits and pieces around my studio.
Image Above: Wendy Thurlow, Relic Chain, sterling silver, ancient punch mark coin, turquoise
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