Friday, February 5, 2016

Artist interview: Jane Salley

Hello - Jenny here. As some of you may know, I had the pleasure of an art retreat to start this year. Held at Hacienda Mosaico in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico - a sublimely gorgeous location, gracious hosts, all needs anticipated and provided for... a true creative haven. The class I took was with Richard and Jane Salley. It was creatively challenging and invigorating, and you can read more in my blog. I am pleased to bring you a two part interview with the dynamic duo! 
The lovely Jane Salley

Please introduce yourself! Do you have a descriptive term that encapsulates your style?

I’m Jane Salley, I make lovely things for personal adornment, these days it’s mostly jewelry but I design and make clothing and handbags too. I refer to my style as bold and whimsical.

For anyone new to you and your work - how did you get started in jewelry making? Are you formally trained? (And as an aside - what was your career path prior to this?)

Since childhood, I’ve made things to make me or my surroundings prettier, I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t sticking “pretty” things together to wear. Sometimes it was a necklace, sometimes a hat, or maybe a whole dress. When it came time to make a living I chose to train as a dental laboratory technician. It fulfilled my need to make things and it felt so good to see someone smile when they had their new dental restorations in place. Many of the skills I used in the dental laboratory translated to jewelry making, such as wire bending, soldering and polishing.

Older work: from her ArtBliss class in 2011 and during her tenure on the Ice Resin Design team. 

What is currently sparking your new ideas? …do you ever suffer from creative droughts and if so how do you deal with it to stay inspired?

My latest thing is setting stone, especially the sparkling ones. I very seldom suffer from a creative drought, my problem is I have too many ideas all competing to be brought to fruition. I will admit that some of them aren’t practical, some are way out of my skill range, and a few stick around and become reality. If I am having a hard time coming up with something to make I just start cleaning and rearranging my studio. Then I come across one of the lovely (or odd ball) things I’ve bought or collected and I’m inspired - I think of it as The Muse nudging me. By the way, my studio never seems to get cleaned up.

What are you favorite mediums/materials to work with?…do you have a favorite or unusual tool?What are you working on now? What materials would you like to explore in the future?
When did you start integrating found objects into your work?

I like silver because it is so easy to make a stunning piece of jewelry with it, but I have a real affinity for copper and brass. I like etching and layering different metals. I enjoy the challenge of attaching them together with a found object in a way that is esthetically pleasing and appropriate for each material. The first jewelry workshop I attended was taught by Keith LoBue and it was all about found objects and cold connections.

My new favorite tool is the hydraulic press and I hope to find ways to use what the press can do in interesting ways, otherwise its just a really big, expense way to avoid sawing.

Mixed media jewelry (c) J. Salley

Your husband, Richard, travels often for teaching/classes. When you do not go to assist, or teach at a venue yourself - what occupies your time most when you are solo?

I don’t mind solitude at all, so when Richard's away for a few days I’m quite content to make jewelry and have the soldering bench all to myself.

What short piece of advice would you give someone trying to find their creative voice and push forward?

My first piece of advice is to find something that speaks to you and learn to do that. Develop skills and knowledge in that area, take classes, read books, watch videos about the thing for which you are developing a passion. I say this because no matter how much natural talent you have, if you can’t handle the materials successfully you will never be able to express yourself fully. Last of all practice, practice and practice, and in that practice you will find your style and your voice. Remember your “practice” may be making a dozen rings, practice doesn’t have to be the jewelry equivalent of practicing the piano scales.

Mixed media jewelry (c) J. Salley

What artist ( living or dead) would you most like to meet and have dinner with?

Paul Revere, he was an amazing artisan. He was also a brave and bold man who was stood for what he believed in and it change the world.

Where can we see your work?

My work can be seen at GVG Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico and on FaceBook.

Mixed media jewelry (c) Jane Salley

From Inside the Actor’s Studio: (short and simple)

What is your favorite word? Joy
What is your least favorite word? Can’t
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? I see beauty in what’s around me and if there is none I do what I can to create it by thought, word, deed, or Art.
What turns you off? Arrogance and pettiness
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Actor - I don’t know if I’d be any good
What profession would you not like to do? Corporate middle management
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Welcome home, my dear child.”

Thank you Jane! Your work always inspires this mixed media woman. Please stay tuned for Part 2 with Richard Salley ( date TBD as he is headed to teach in Tucson!)


  1. wonderful pieces, so inspirational

  2. Great post Jenny...lovely work and very sound advice from Jane there.


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