Featured Artist Elaine Unzicker of
Finally catching up with Elaine Unzicker after the Washington D.C. Fine Art and Craft Show, Elaine took some time from her schedule to talk to Brothers-Handmade about her work and her experiences. Elaine's art form is very different from the average weaver, fiber artist. Elaine uses steel and we thought that alone qualified her to be in the pages of Brothers-Handmade. Besides that, her work is absolutely stunning.
Greetings Elaine, and thanks for agreeing to our Featured Artist interview.
To start, please tell us about your primary Art interest?
I work with stainless chain mail to create belts, purses, scarves and wearable pieces. My training in jewelry and sculpture has given me a strong attention to detail with an ability to use the human form as an armature. The play comes in when a person interacts with the piece.
How did you get started? Tell us about your journey in this art form.
I received my M.F.A. in jewelry from Illinois State University in 1986. It was during my training that I learned how to make chain mail. And what a natural and almost easy craft for me; it seemed to flow without effort. I loved the fact that metal could be soft and flexible, but still hard and strong. The interest in chain mail never left. (Click images to enlarge)
I started my business in 1993 as a jeweler with chain mail featured in many of the pieces. This led to purchasing pieces of stainless chain mail and the creation of a couple of purses and the vest. To increase my chances of being accepted into more shows, I decided to enter under two categories: jewelry and metal. My acceptance into the metal category ended up expanding my line. Now, the jewelry is sold mostly wholesale. I continue to create new wearable pieces along with the current body of work. And, the wearable pieces push the boundaries of what I can do with chain mail constantly challenging my skills. They represent the creative edge, the inner push I enjoy so much about being an artist.
Have you won any awards, competitions, or recognitions for your Craft?
Yes I have. Some of my show achievements include:
- 2008 - Second Place in Fiber at the Palos Verdes Art Center Sixth Biennial International Juried Wearable Expressions 2008, entered the dress "Shimmering Free"
- 2008 - The Milwaukee Art Museum, Lakefront Festival of Arts, Artist Award, Milwaukee, WI
- 2010 - Scottsdale Arts Festival, Award Winner, Scottsdale, AZ
- 2010 - Fort Worth Arts Festival Main Street, Juror's Award, Fort Worth, TX
- 2010 - The Milwaukee Art Museum, Lakefront Festival of Arts, Honorable Mention, Milwaukee, WI
What do you like best about your art form?
Wearable chain mail requires interaction with the wearer to be complete. Most people can relate to what I do even if it is just from touching the chain mail. It means my audience may be a bit broader than I'm aware.
What are your favorite pieces?
"Shimmering Free", the first dress, is a favorite because it genuinely asked to be created in the form you see today. My original intention for this piece was to create a top of some sort, but as I tried it on, I realized it was a dress. One of the questions running through my head at the time, "Who am I creating this for?" I still don't know the answer; however, this one piece has appeared in various newspapers and magazines, has a show record, almost appeared on TV on Brooke Burke, and took second place in fiber in an international juried wearable art show. It was destined for great things before I knew anything about it.
What do you like doing when you're not creating in the studio?
I love to hike and fortunately for me Ojai (town in California where Elaine lives) has many trails. Wish I had more time to devote to exploring Ojai. Also, yoga and Tai Chi Chih are important pastimes.
Tell us something about yourself that even some of your friends wouldn't know.
I have a strong interest in alternative healing modalities. I am trained in Reiki and Quantum Touch. And, I have actually practiced Reiki (Japanese technique for stress reduction that also promotes healing) and Quantum Touch on individuals who were needing assistance with their personal healing. I have attended workshops with some amazing people such as Caroline Myss, an author and medical intuitive. Each time I do something in this field, I learn amazing things and grow spiritually. The spiritual growth is then translated into my artwork in some form even if it is not obvious.
We hope you have enjoyed our conversations with Elaine Unzicker. You can find out more about Elaine Unzicker's show schedules and contact information on her website.
And remember, go to fine craft and arts shows and festivals, and to Brothers-Handmade.com, to:
"Come See What Your Neighbors Are Making"©
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