Artist Louise Rauh puts her background in paper and metal together to create a fascinating textural line of vessels and jewelry.
ABI: Could you explain your technique?
LR: The etched pieces begin as 16 gauge bowls or found aluminum objects. Asphaultum, a resist commonly used in printmaking and jewelry, is applied by brush to the surface of the bowl in a deliberate pattern and placed in an alkaline bath for 1 –3 hours. The resist protects portions of the piece while the alkaline solution gradually dissolves exposed metal. This process is repeated between 20 –30 times over 6-8 weeks to achieve the desired depth and intricacy of the surface design. The piece is then cleaned, bleached in an acid solution and finished with several applications of acrylic ink.
The surface texture of my jewelry pieces is achieved by an embossing process using a steel rolling mill. Starting with sheet silver, aluminum, or titanium, I sandwich the metal between layers of mesh or fiber and put them through the rolling mill several times until the desired surface is accomplished. I finish the pieces by hand folding or forming them around a metal stake. The titanium is heat treated with a small torch flame. The amount of heat determines the color of the metal. The aluminum pieces are colored with acrylic inks and finished acrylic varnish.
ABI: How did you get started designing jewelry?
LR: I was working for DJRinner Goldsmith designing custom gemstone jewelry in the Iowa Artisans Gallery and noticed how easily art jewelry sold there. I still had quite a bit of silver and titanium in my studio from grad school projects so I made several pieces and they flew out of the store. A jewelry maker was born.
ABI: How would you describe your jewelry and your audience?
LR: I have a strong background in metalsmithing, printmaking and papermaking and think they all come together in my current work. I like large blocks of color, simple shapes and a variety of textures. Because of the materials and technique the pieces can be large yet still lightweight and easy to wear. My repeat customers are women who like statement pieces. I like to call them “fearlessly feminine.”
ABI: Considering that you once owned a gallery, how are you preparing for your first wholesale show as an exhibitor?
LR: As a new exhibitor, I am trying to get images out as much as possible. I will do a mass postcard mailing, e-mail contacts and some social media. But I think the most important aspect is the visual impact of the booth design. The audience is there to buy, and you need to show creativity and draw them in. My collaborator Bethany Young and I are still fine tuning the final booth display but I bow to her visual/ spatial acumen.