Monday, June 29, 2015

Cosmic Fire Serpent

Cosmic Fire Serpent is a tribute to our favorite creek (where we collect most of our stones) and represents our interpretation of the Great Milky Way which is so prevalent in the night sky where we live.

Each section was hand built out of fine and sterling silver (no casting or replication) and fired into a single fluid kinetic piece (no rivets or soldering). Over 1700 individually hand punched diamond shaped pieces were appliqu├ęd. The bail has a hidden hinge and captive pin lock so the pendant can be removed entirely or worn with front or back as a focal. The necklace was hand polished to enhance the contrast and detail. This necklace took over 450 hours to complete.

The main stone is rare Bull's Eye Flint and was the inspiration for the piece. A thin sheet of Mica is set behind the stone, adding a reflective quality to the sun disk on the backside of the pendant.

2015© Tanner/Tieken™ all rights reserved

Stone side of Cosmic Fire Serpent

Reversed side of Cosmic Fire Serpent
To see the full collection, please preview the collection video below:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

TANNER/TIEKEN™ Brave New World Collection

Two years in the making…
We would like to invite our friends and family to celebrate the release of the Brave New World collaborative collection. This is a culmination of our deep love and respect for one another, the natural world around us and the sacred landscape on which we live. Conceived exactly two years ago on the Summer Solstice during a three day fast and vision quest, each piece is a chapter in the continuing story of our shared obsession with art, design and creation. Working primarily in reclaimed sterling and fine silver metal clay, each component was meticulously hand formed. Every stone was individually hand collected and cut with virtually no impact on the environment. The jewelry, photography and graphics were all created in house, at our studio. Our desire is to elevate sustainability in high end jewelry design while honoring the aesthetics of the ancient artisans and master craftsmen from the distant past. Thank-you everyone for your continued support through this process. It’s a BRAVE NEW WOLRD, please enjoy.
Most Sincerely, Wanaree Tanner & Steve Tieken Tanner/Tieken  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

MetalClay Art Conservatory Studio

Update on the Conservatory Studio progress, dry wall is being put up now, all the work is being done by local Amish carpenters and craftsmen. Set on 28 acres with a meandering stream and one of the few original red barns left in the area. Remodel is scheduled to be complete in late spring. We'll keep you posted~

Front view of house...three bedroom accomedations, two upstairs rooms with great views of the countryside

Ancient sycamore tree out front.

Side view of the house...

Wood burning stove in the main seating area...

Peering through the studio area...

One of the last original red barns still left in the area, where horses, a pony, and a mule reside. 

Partial view of the back 28 acres...

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Practice and Discipline: The Key to Excellence

As in all things in life, whether it be art, music, or any particular skill, practice is essential to excellence. Practice is not a destination, there is no end, there is no completion, it is the very vehicle of transformation. There is no point at which one arrives and practice becomes unnecessary.

Ability, in itself, is a seed that must be watered every day, it is a living organism that requires thought and attention. If you were to watch any seed closely, water it consistently, it's progress of growth may not be visible for weeks. Yet, if you tend it, give it ideal conditions in which to grow, one day a tender sprout will erupt from the ground. The time for germination depends on the variety, some sprout quickly, others require more patience and nurturing. The same is true of a practitioner of any art form.  

The key to committed practice is discipline. A good musician will tell you, they play every day, not just when they are composing or learning a song. I once listened to a flutist practice scales (going up and down a particular musical key) for several hours. Playing scales is the first thing ever taught to concert musicians, and she was already an accomplished player, yet, every day she would still commit time to this most basic of lessons. A long lineage of this kind of discipline creates fertile ground in which excellence and mastery can grow within an art form. 

With visual arts, it is far more subtle. We produce an end result that is tangible, that can be held and experienced. The work and practice that formed it may not be entirely known to someone outside it's field, but anyone with a discerning eye can examine a piece, in depth, and see the skill or artistry that created it. 

Whatever latent or active talent we have must be refined with practice. When creativity and inspiration wanes, it is discipline that keeps us working. More often than not, new ideas can manifest during such lulls, but more importantly, the commitment to the overall work should supersede our sometimes short attention span. While this kind of practice may not produce anything worthwhile in the immediate, it's the investment into the body of work that will benefit.

Self examination is also essential. Questioning our work and/or reviewing our progress must be done with detached brutality. In this, it is important to remove our emotional ties, and handle ourselves with a critical authority that isn't about tearing down or deeming, but about growth. Where can improvement be made? While I may view a piece as my finest, never is it without room for improvement.  

Often, that critical authority needs to come from outside ourselves. This can be the role of a good instructor. Their illumination of a new technique or process is only one aspect of our learning, we must take those techniques, practice them, and then be ready for sincere evaluation if excellence is what we truly wish to manifest. They should also give us the foundation and example for which we can grow and strengthen our own critical authority. True teachers are simply facilitators of this process. Exaltation should only be emphasized in the work produced, not in the teacher or even in the artist. Why? Because the human ego can crush progress with it's belief of having arrived. If we instead develop a passion for practice and sincere self-examination we will reap a harvest of improvement and innovative distinction.  

There is a balance between creative ingenuity and practiced skill. They are like different muscles in our artistic body, and require individual attention as well as harmonious synthesis for health to be achieved. Some artists may be born with a latent ability and talent where this process happens naturally, and with little to no interpersonal influences. In these cases the work speaks for itself. This does not necessarily mean they don't have to work long hours or try harder, it more often means the working and practice comes so fluidly that it may appear effortless. 

Creativity and inspiration must be tempered with practice and discipline if we wish to push the boundaries of our own abilities. That is, if we wish to create meaningful art, and not just make objects.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From the Sustainable Stones Studio...

Winter has returned. The chill in the air is matched by the first snowfall as quiet settles back into the wild woodlands.  The garden is asleep, many of the birds have migrated, and the seemingly endless parade of bugs have disappeared. In years past, a sad longing for summer usually accompanied the change but this year it's replaced by a sense of bubbling excitement.

We practically live outside when snow isn't on the ground. Hiking through dense woods, sowing and harvesting, watching the plants and animals, and one of our favorites, collecting stones from the mercurial creek that cuts through this amazing place. By now there are stacked containers, filled with our favorite rough stones. They're little snapshots of expectation, selected from countless others for their subtle promise of what might be, once polished.
Stones collected by Steve Tieken and Wanaree Tanner, cut by Steve Tieken


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cultivating Creativity

Perception is a funny thing. It would be redundant to say that it's relative, yet we always have to remind ourselves of that. Wether it's in our aesthetic taste or how we perceive a situation or person, we are viewing information through a set of subjective lenses. Those lenses become filters, filters become rules, and then at some point those rules become so steadfast that we can't even see something that's plainly before us.

Take a tree, for example. When I say tree, a mental picture is conjured up and a sense of knowing bubbles up along with it. "Yes, tree, I know what that is." Do I really though? Or am I mistaking the word for the experience? What's the difference?

Fall along the mighty Mississippi River- photo by Wanaree Tanner

It's kind of like half watching a movie, yeah, I "watched" it, but did I notice all the subtle cinematic intricacies, secondary plot lines, or even the soundtrack? After all, someone orchestrated every shot and every movement to express a very specific idea or feeling.

In the same way, I only half watched the world around me. A tree was a tree, it had it's value, it had it's place, but the list of trees I actually knew was profoundly shorter than the list of movies I'd fully experienced. Learning to share their space, be observant, and not pass judgment reset my perception. An entire microcosm was revealed, with leading characters, struggles for life and death between numerous incects and animals, all playing out on the stage of a single tree.  It was then that I realized I could never really "know" a tree. I can experience it in a moment, list it's characteristics and qualities, but I can't be the tree. Claiming to "know" it automatically subjugates it to a severely inadequate label, and can turn a vibrant living being into a sterile litany of words.

What does this have to do with art or with inspiration? While beautifully spun words can be very inspiring, there is no replacement for the inspiration born of an experience free from preconceptions.

Which reminds me of a piece of advice sometimes given to to young authors: "Don't write anything at all until you've experienced something. Don't even write for the school paper. Until you've experienced something, there's nothing to write about." One might think this means we have to go get a motorbike and ride across the country or hop on box cars like bohemian hobos, which can create an experience free from preconceptions, but it can also happen while occupying the same space with a tree as an observer instead of as a knower.

Somewhere within that practice is jet fuel for creativity. At least for me, it's in being open, in being observant that the seeds for inspiration can germinate. All the words and chatter (both internal and external) about inspiration can place it on an unattainable pedestal. Obsessing over finding it, harnessing it, marketing it, defining it, capturing it, when it's readily available all around us for the low, low price of being open and aware. It's not something someone can give or sell to you, it's there waiting for you.

The pursuit and perpetual searching can transform into an active living flow, with moods and seasons that tolerate no expectations. When it's allowed to be and arrive at will, it gives birth to the the clarity that noting man creates can ever match the wonder of what already is. Surprisingly, this takes the pressure off. You can simply become a contributor to the creation that is already happening all around us all of the time. Create and be at peace.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

MetalClay Arts Conservatory

I'm pleased to introduce the first in the series of online classes from The MetalClay Arts Conservatory. This new cutting-edge format has given me a platform to include all the skills and techniques I've developed throughout my career.


"Kinetic Bell Pendant" Fully articulated and musical, this project emphasizes dimensional design in metal clay, walking you though not only the clay process but how to design dimensionally as well.
Learn how to create a piece that's your own all the way from texture to patina.
Incorporating kinetic elements into metal clay: a fully articulated bell stem and swing bail.

Introduction ot kinetic connection in metal clay
with "Kinetic Earrings"

Learn to create your own unique designs.

"Let Your Work Become Music to the Ears"
An example of project possibilities from this Comprehensive Course. The Ringing Kinetic Bell Pendant and Kinetic Earrings combined with additional Bell Shaped Beads, custom clasp, and repurposed antique turquoise stone rondells.