With just a few days separating myself and the workshop at Touchstone, it is high time to highlight the central stimulus for my choice of the workshop; Sharon Massey. After being selected for the Touchstone scholarship I spent the next few days scanning the workshop list, visiting artist websites, and trying to gain a feel for their work. Massey’s portfolio, topic of “Jewelry Fabrication in Steel”, and straightforward artist statement which offers no apologies for her love of steel and iron, instantly had me hooked.

Sharon Massey lives and works in Steeltown (aka Pittsburgh), PA, immersing herself in her surroundings as she is directly inspired by the city’s “steel bridges, industry, and the architectural details of buildings”. Drawing on the innate qualities of steel and iron and allowing them to shine, Massy makes it clear that she is “not interested in merely recreating these things [architecture, bridges, ironworks]” but attempting “to capture the essence of the beauty of Pittsburgh, make it tangible”.

I am especially drawn to Massey’s “Party Wall Project” brooches and various pieces in “Gold gab ich fur eisen”. In “Party Wall”, Massey combines metal with bright colors to create brooches reminiscent of the ‘party walls’ left bare by the removal of the adjacent connected building. Massey documents specific party walls from her walks around the city, exchanging the brick and wallpaper of the architectural construction for steel and colors crafted in a more manageable size for the body.

“Gold gab ich fur eisen” or “I have gold for iron” is a collection of brooches, collars, rings, and more which combine iron as the central component with pearls, muslin, silver, and wax. I was immediately drawn to the series for its excessive repetition and visual textures. Color was also a strongly compelling component. Massey utilizes rust as a prevalent detail on each of the pieces as it spreads the naturally iconic and rich orange into the muslin fabric.  Although the iron forms are manipulated, as is the fabric used to create the bulbous protrusions, the spread of the rust is uncontrolled as the iron naturally decays and seeps into the waxed fabric. The color contrasts with the stark white/black contrast of the unpatinated areas to create patterns along the interior and exterior of each piece.

I am extremely excited to work with Massey and absorb as much as possible this coming weekend. What is most wonderful about workshops and similar opportunities is that they provide a unique experience to meet and work with a well-established professional in the field. More than techniques, workshops offer the chance to pick the mind of the artist about their work, their thoughts on jewelry, and to get insider advice as how to “make it” in an increasingly competitive field. Beyond learning to work in steel, I am extremely grateful to Touchstone and Brigitte for allowing me this opportunity. Thank you!


To see more of Massey’s work, visit her website at http://www.sharonmasseymetalsmith.com/.

To learn more about Massey, check out the video produced by Brian Ferrell Designs and Brigitte Martin right here on Crafthaus! A short interview with Massey detailing her working process and inspirations, the video is a wonderful brief introduction to Massey’s thought process and connection to steel as a jewelry fabrication material. http://crafthaus.ning.com/video/craft-in-sight-episode-1

Works Cited:

"Party Wall Brooch II: Brighton Road", http://www.sharonmasseymetalsmith.com/

"Bracelet", iron wire, cotton muslin, rust, wax http://www.sharonmasseymetalsmith.com/

"New Cuffs", iron wire, cotton muslin, rust, wax http://www.sharonmasseymetalsmith.com/

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