Combining resin, metal clay, and traditional fabrication techniques, Ivy Solomon’s award-winning pendants are structured around textures and colors in ways that frequently depart from traditional jewelry designs.
“When you use stones, you have to design to enhance the stone. The piece is all about the stone,” says Solomon of Oak Park, Michigan. “With metal clay, it’s more about texture, because that’s what [metal clay] does the best.”
Adding color atop the patterns makes them come alive, says Solomon. Her resin inlays stand out because of their depth and vibrant, transparent colors, which first-time viewers often mistake for enamel. Her secrets include using a clear overlay on transparent colors, and grinding down and polishing the resin after it sets. “It’s my nature to explore the material I’m using and do everything that I can to it,”she says.Many of Solomon’s pieces incorporate textures from found objects. For example, in “Autumn Garden,”Solomon used PMC to mold a leaf pattern on a Victorian jewelry box, bamboo leaves on an antique candle wall sconce, and a wood pattern on a plate.
Solomon fabricates most of her pendants from wire and sheet, and then uses metal clay to create the textures that underlay the resins. “I’ve always been fascinated by detailed embroidery and needlepoint,”she says. “Those details from other artisans are really important in my work, and the color just gives it life.”
Although she occasionally incorporates gold foil underneath the resin for color and sparkle, she hasn’t felt the need to move into precious materials. “I don’t know if [adding gold] would make a big difference in my work, because it’s become more than jewelry,”she says. “People are drawn to my work for the work itself, rather than what it’s made of.”
She has experimented with adding faceted stones, but found that their bright colors compete with the resin, detracting from the overall effect. “I really like the resin. It’s painterly, and it really speaks more to the art part of the work,”she says. “When I think of stones, I think of jewelry.”
But while she’s happy with her use of resin in jewelry, she does admit a sneaking sympathy for the traditional view of resin as a shortcut around more time-consuming coloring techniques, such as enameling. “I encounter that with myself,”she confesses. “[When I started with resin,] I thought, “I can’t do this, this is cheating.” But I just pushed through it, and thought, “I’m just going to take this as far as I can.”
“As far as taking it to another level, I think that happened,”she concludes. “That’s just a natural way for me to work, to try to do things differently. I go through all these in-depth steps, and when the piece is finished, I’m still amazed that it came out [so beautiful].”