Did you know that GreenHill shows the work of over 100 North Carolinian artists all year round? In our shop, you can find original, handmade artwork for any budget. Each month we shine the spotlight on one of our shop artists to help you find the artwork that inspires you. This month, we’d like to introduce you to enmamelist and metalsmith Annie Grimes Williams. Annie transforms sheets of copper into forms inspired by sealife by shellforming, piercing, and enameling. The colors and shapes range from minimalist circles with bold pops of color to flowing miniature vessels with rich colors hidden inside organic folds, making her work utterly unique and eye-catching.
Annie currently has two of her pieces featured in the Vitreous Voices Exhibition, highlighting the rich enameling tradition of ECU. She is an exhibiting member of Piedmont Craftsmen's Guild and Carolina Designer Craftsmen's Guild and shows at both annual craft fairs as well as other regional art festivals. This year she will also be showing work at the American Craft Council shows in Baltimore and Atlanta.
Read more about the artist, in her own words:
1. GeoChroma Bowl Studs, enamel, $602. GeoChroma 1/2 Inch Reversible Dangles, enamel, $353. Chevron Necklace, enamel, $454. Half Moon Necklace, enamel, $455. 1/2 Inch Dangles, enamel, $406. GeoChroma 1/2 Inch Reversible Dangles, enamel, $357. Sea Pods Earrings, enamel on formed copper, $1908. Sea Pods Earrings, enamel on formed copper, $1909. Sea Pods Cone Necklace, enamel, $90
I've been making art in some form all of my life. My mom is an artist and taught Elementary art, so she always encouraged creative projects. My parents took us to art shows and craft fairs growing up, and it was very inspiring to see artists making a living by creating and doing what they love. I went to art school at East Carolina University, originally on a graphic design track, but when I took a metalsmithing class for a 3-D art credit, I fell in love and decided to change my major. I'm fascinated by how far you can push a metal form with hammers and stakes and make such a rigid material into something flowing and organic. Enameling allows me to add color to my work and give it the brightness and richness that I love.
Give us a glance into your art-making process. Where do your ideas or images come from? Do you have a plan for what you’re going to make before you start? What kind of research do you do?
My work is primarily influenced by my fascination with forms and their interior spaces, by color, and by my affinity for the natural world. I am always taking photos, and I keep a sketchbook handy to scribble out thoughts and designs. I find that just being in the studio working on current projects will spark ideas for the next pieces. I also keep up with current craft and what's going on in the world of contemporary jewelry as well as seasonal color trends. This helps keep ideas fresh and original while hopefully appealing to others. When I'm making work, I usually have a general plan or a rough sketch to go by, but I like to let the piece evolve on its own and let intuition guide me to the next step or the next piece.
Describe the perfect day in your studio. Are you working on a bunch of projects all at once? How much do you get to experiment and play? Do you get up early or work late into the night?
Because of my wonderful family's support I get to have several studio days a week.I have a two-year-old son who is the most delightful little human, but when he is home with me I don't get much work done. We get up in the morning and take our time with breakfast and then go on a long walk around the neighborhood with our dog, and then he goes to school or to his grandparents' houses, and I come home and get to work in the studio. I always have 10-20-30+ pieces of jewelry going at a time because I work in series and collections. I really enjoy it when I have the time to experiment and play with new designs and techniques, but many days I'm fulfilling orders or making work for up-coming craft shows. I'll take a break to cook dinner and eat with my family, but many nights when my husband is cleaning up, I'll head back to the studio and work until midnight or later.
It's a ton of work, not all of it as glamorous as it may seem. I'm a one-woman business, and that means I have to do all of the book-keeping, taxes, inventory lists, marketing, web maintenance, product photography, and editing, applying for craft shows, gallery exhibitions and guilds, etc. But when you love what you do and are committed and passionate enough, all the other stuff is worth it.
What gets you inspired? How to you cultivate your creative spirit?
A walk through the woods or along the beach, just spending time out in nature is what gets me inspired. Especially if I'm able to move slowly and stop to take photos of lines, shapes, colors, and forms that could lend themselves to new pieces. I draw inspiration from everything from shells to sea grasses to seed pods. Many of my sgraffito designs are my graphic interpretations of patterns found in nature.