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“Jewelry as Personal Adornment” Workshop

by Bob Ebendorf

February 20th - 21st, 2010

Written by Duncan Scott

Strange goods. Mysterious materials. Bizarre flotsam side by side with precious metals and gems. Robert Ebendorf has it all, and uses it all to fashion unique items of personal adornment. Adornments meticulously wrought, but not favoring treatment of any particular material. His only criteria being that what is used must be of interest and beauty. His only electric tool, a drill.
Bob’s appearance here is another coup for ADC and their continuing arts program. Bob is the latest in a string of leading American artists induced to Tucson to teach at the ADC’s continuing arts program. Bob’s lecture Friday evening kicked off his week-end workshop that focused on forming metals and found objects into pins, broaches, and rings.
Bob was taking a break from his duties at East Carolina University where he holds the Belk Distinguished Chair to return for the his third time to Tucson. He held that he was excited to be back in the Old Pueblo, and art center he likened to Boulder CO or perhaps even to the creative environment of Woodstock - while admitting that his old car never allowed him to complete his trip to that epic venue.

A genuine original, a designer, artist and the leader of the American craft movement, Bob held sway over an SRO crowd last Friday evening. He shared both his artistic vision and the path he has followed during his long career in goldsmithing. He described his beginnings in working metals as an art student at the University of Kansas and as a Fulbright scholar in Norway. Examples of his body of work defies categorization. If you told him that he must be thinking out of the box, he might ask “what is a box”.

Bob has found ways to mix pearls with tin, gold and bottle caps, and to juxtaposition copper and gemstones. His pieces have found their way not only into major museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s American art collection, but into the bureau drawers of people who expect and can afford jewelry that transcends the ordinary. His award winning creations were on exhibit as part of his attire, as well as in a slide show that encapsulated his artistic path and displayed some of his more notable pieces.
Even at 72, Bob shows no indication of moderating his overflowing energies. Generally up at 4 a.m. then off to his morning workout, as behoves a life-long athlete, he seems capable of out running and out working most people half his age. Jewelry making, his life long passion, is his segue to a retirement of making jewelry, he joked.

The workshop developed on the ideas that Bob was first exposed to when he was still working exclusively in more traditional silver and gold on his meeting with Claus Bury, and unconventional jeweler whose use of found materials sparked his imagination. During the workshop, students were encouraged to develop objects of adornment employing virtually any object of interest in any combination using inspiration and innovation to develop their own personal expression of adornment.

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