Nowadays, we are forgetting something extremely important, and thereby experiencing more problems than we need to. This is what we are forgetting:
Every single human being is unique. Though we share attributes, we do not march in mental lockstep. Every human has different experiences, thoughts, dreams, ideas, opinions. If we accept this truth and — through civilized interaction — learn from one another, we grow, both individually and as a society. If we insist, however, that 100 out of 100 people think and act the same, we relinquish creativity and life.
Jewelry designer Robin Kahn learned this lesson over 27 years of teaching special education in Florida and Washington. Now retired, she applies it to both her day-to-day living and her art.
“My students, each one special, were ages 5-10 with a wide range of developmental challenges both academically and behaviorally,” the Spokane artist says. “What I learned from these children is that each of us is unique. As I got to know each child, I could then divine and fashion an individual approach to help that child grow and learn.
“I am now creating jewelry full time. I believe my creative process for designing jewelry is inspired by my students, each one different and unique. My jewelry is designed with no two pieces identical. Each has its own shine.”
Each has its own shine.
Hunting at the Hardware Store
Specializing in copper and silversmithing earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, Kahn is constantly focused on refining her skills as a metalsmith. Her first foray into jewelry making was years ago, a class on beading that, unexpectedly, unlocked the hidden artist within and a passion to get to know her. Since then, she has never stopped taking classes, from beading to coppersmithing, from yard art welding to ceramics. Each learning experience adds to her repertoire of creativity and ideas.
“To say I work with a range of materials is an understatement,” Kahn says. “I love nothing better than hunting at hardware stores, garage sales, and auctions, foraging to find unusual materials that can be used in a unique and different way than was originally intended.
“Buttons, drawer pulls, coins, pottery, beads, car parts, keys, bullet casings, rocks, recycled copper — this is Nirvana for someone who likes to discover and give new life to the unusual!”
Not surprisingly, it requires a fair amount of space to not only store all the materials Kahn uses to create her craft, but to transform those raw materials into completed, wearable art.
Filling the Workshop with Unique Items
Initially, her studio space was a six-foot folding table set within the well equipped workshop of her husband, Marv, a retired math teacher who “can fix and fabricate most anything.”
Over time, she added kilns, a soldering station, a jeweler’s bench, storage for the many beads that she adores and accumulates, cabinets for gems, multiple tables for assembling completed pieces, display racks for shows, storage for specialized tools, and space for enameling, metal fabricating, and forming. If you’re wondering how this impacted Marv, well,
“Marv’s shop has migrated into a new space in our backyard.”
It works. And they’ve each found their happy space.
Kahn’s latest focus involves enhancing individual pieces with texture, design, and patina. Using bits of lace, fibers from a lime bag, cactus or leaf skeletons, hammers and metal stamps, Kahn incorporates unconventional elements onto the metal surfaces of her jewelry pieces. Ideas ebb and flow during this process, she explains — often what she thought was going to emerge evolves into something very different.
“Being open to this evolving process is why I love sitting down to make jewelry.”
Traveling to Shows
Every year, Kahn takes part in the Little Spokane Artists Studio Tour at the end of September, and this year will also be at the Sun City Oro Valley, AZ, November Art Fair. She also attends the Tucson Gem and Mineral show which, with more than 4,000 vendors, is the largest, oldest, and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world.
It’s been many years since that first jewelry class that started this journey, but for Kahn, every time she sits down to create a jewelry art piece, it’s a new, and unique experience.
“The process of fabricating a new piece starts out with a vision of color, texture and shape that inevitably evolves. Each piece finds its own direction, until ultimately, the final design is revealed.”
And the important thing about that final design is that it is unique, original, and one of a kind.
Just like each of us.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.