Opening the freezing door to the upper metals studio last week, we were met by Penland core fellow Sarah Brown and her meticulous landscape of metals, molds, notes, and materials. She was playing Radiohead, which matched the mood exactly; entering Sarah’s work space is to enter an unpredictable and mysterious world of particulars.
During her solo studio time this winter, Sarah is experimenting with the viscosity of rhinestones. In one ring, a set opaque rhinestone with droplets of sterling silver and white rhinestone protrudes like a small undiscovered planet from a band. (The line between setting and stone wonderfully eroded.) The rhinestone is frozen in a semi-molten state, the facets overwhelmed by encroaching droplets. The whole thing seems doomed to devour itself (Sarah is calling it the “exploded rhinestone ring.”) Many of Sarah Brown’s pieces instantly project the dramas of matter.
And there’s an intense method to her magic. Sarah’s using her winter to focus on the grounding elements of jewelry production—perfecting prototypes for her pieces and her own molds—and giving time to this process before moving on to replication. She gives credit and thanks to Penlander and metalsmith Adam Whitney for helping her create a strategy for the winter. One need only to take a look at the whiteboard above her work space to know: Sarah Brown is an artist who means business.
Photographs by Robin Dreyer, writing by Elaine Bleakney