Owl Bracelet by Sharifah Marsden | Photo Source: Lattimer Gallery
My artistic life started as a teen. I began with painting, and I also loved to create floral and geometric beadwork designs on traditional pow wow regalia. One of the earliest teachings from my mother was to continue creating images that relate to my culture, in order to maintain my connection to my Anishinaabe heritage, and for my identity to endure throughout formal training.
When I began my jewellery training, I continued with the same commitment to retain my cultural identity. I found my experience with the floral and geometric designs of traditional regalia made a direct connection to jewellery design. In terms of my training in British Columbia, I learned Northwest Coast engraving techniques at the Native Education College, under the instruction of Kwakwaka’wakw/Haida artist Dan Wallace between 2008 and 2009. Then in 2010, through First Peoples Cultural Council, I mentored under Haida artist, Rick Adkins. Most recently, I graduated from two-years of formal training in the European goldsmithing tradition at the Vancouver Metal Arts School, under the instruction of Gerold Mueller.
Through my training in engraving, I learned the basics: first, I learned how to transfer my beadwork designs into a jewellery scale design. Next, I learned cutting out shapes for earrings, pendants, bracelets, and bands. Then, I learned how to engrave lines, and to gouge and chisel a variety of shapes. And lastly, I learned about soldering loops and bails, and high polishing. By the end of this program, I was able to combine all of these details onto silver in a way that was balanced and effectively expressed my vision of floral and geometric beadwork designs.
After I leaned the basics, I had the opportunity to mentor with Master Haida carver, Rick Adkins. His lessons focused on improving design through drawing practices, and enhanced engraving skills. I learned how to greatly improve my engraving techniques through focusing on detail: double lines, chiselling edges of crosshatching and polished areas, shadowing, and other fine engraving details.
In 2013, I began formal training at the Vancouver Metal Arts School, in West Vancouver. Instructor and goldsmith, Gerold Meuller, taught me the tradition of metal arts. I began with metal forming, tension setting, jewellery designing, basic soldering, and surface texturing, and then moved towards hollow forms, stone setting, complicated soldering, fusing and kinetic (moving) parts. This training provided me with an entirely new skill set.
My artistic goal as an Anishinaabe jeweller is to continue to stay true to my cultural art practice, and be successful in this to ensure to contribute to an overall recognition of Anishinaabe art. I work on this goal every day with a commitment to develop my technical skills and to teach art to the next generation. I must do my part to ensure that the Anishinaabe style grows through the tradition of engraving and goldsmithing.
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