Inspiration Artist ~ Nicole Ringgold

After discovering her work on Facebook in the online group Aspiring Metalsmiths, we were so inspired we had to reach out to her about her Botanical Series.  Here’s some great advice from an incredibly talented metalsmith and artist.  Every piece is hand forged, shaped, soldered and finished- pieces by piece, every intricate detail.
Botanical Series
Name:  Nicole Ringgold. Some people ask if I changed my name to fit my profession. Nope, it’s just a happy coincidence.
LJS: Where are you from originally:
NR: I was born in Massachusetts, but grew up in Switzerland and France. I have since lived in various US states, as well as in Niger, W. Africa. My home for the last decade has been in the Methow Valley, a community situated in the North Cascade Mountains in Washington State.

LJS:  Favorite show/movie/song of late?

NR:  My favorite musician is Macklemore…I’m more of an audiobook addict since I spend so much time in my studio. My favorite book of late is The Nightingale.

LJS:  What was the first piece of jewelry you ever made using either metalsmithing or carving techniques?

NR:  I took a couple of silversmithing courses in college over 20 years ago. I made a really fun ring with lost cast wax that I was proud of at the time.

LJS:  What’s a bench tip you’ve learned or figured out recently that’s changed your life?

NR:  My recent collection of botanical jewelry has taught me a tremendous amount about complex soldering, how to use heat syncs, how to heat just enough of the surrounding silver for the filler metal to melt perfectly into targeted seams, and how to make the most use of my pick while soldering.

LJS:  In your botanical series you create so many wonderful pieces, do you have a favorite among them?

NR:  Yes…this one. It’s a larch cone. Soldering on each of the tiny layers presented a challenge.

LJS:  Which piece challenged you the most as a metalsmith?

NR:  These poppy seed pods, primarily because it’s easy to explode a sphere while soldering on the additional components.

LJS:  Who’s your favorite artist, and how do they inspire you?

NR:  I can’t say that I have just one favorite artist, but I’ve recently discovered the work of John Grade: http://johngrade.com. I would love to take him out for a glass or two of wine and listen to his story. As an artists, how did he reach where he is today?

LJS:  We can tell that you find inspiration in nature, do you have any favorite places you go or things you do when you’re needing a little artisitic push?
NR:  I live in the mountains and work inside a greenhouse, both of which give me endless artistic inspiration. I am an avid hiker. I love hiking to high alpine lakes where I can jump in. I take pictures and collect samples of native plants to bring back to my studio. There, I literally dissect the plants to understand how they’re constructed, and attempt to reconstruct them in silver.

LJS:  What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a student just starting out?
NR:  Dive in. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Most errors turn out to be happy accidents.

You can find more of her work at www.nicoleringgold.com

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