This weeks Shine is the ever inspiring Tosca Teran of Nanopod Studios. When i met Tosca a few years ago, i was impressed by her ability to create jewelry that seemed so biological, so organic, so from the earth! We soon started following her work and seeing her at different art and craft events around the city. Her work combined art and science in such an accessible way as she created jewelry and sculpture. A very shiny spirit, i think that the world should know more about her so i asked her about her inspirations and about her work with glass and metal.
Check out some of her work at her shop, website and blog! Enjoy!
Could you tell us about what inspires you?
An uncle of mine was an undersea photographer in the 70’s. He worked for the US parks and services dept., and went out on the Calypso quite often. He would visit bringing stories, amazingly beautiful gigantic colour photographs of corals, sea anemones, and fish, interesting shells, etc., and share them with me. I was fascinated and wanted to dive with my uncle and Jacques Cousteau. I wanted to live in this undersea world I was learning about… As a child, pretending I was a scientist I would wade through local marshes and creek beds collecting tadpoles, frogs whatever I could find to bring home and watch grow (to my Mother’s dismay). I always had smelly Sea Monkey tanks on the go, and was super happy spending hours staring at water droplets, blades of grass, or whatever else I could literally dig up, under my microscope.
Later I would hitchhike to tide pools off of Bolinas, or Drake’s Beach (I grew up in the SF Bay Area) and spend hours observing the life forms. I was a full on nerd. I listened to music that was not popular with my friends; Tomita, Klaus Schulze, Synergy, later Brian Eno.. electronic, and ambient music of the 70’s. My father inspired this! I was a huge fan of sci-fi novels, and films. LOL! Several films that embedded themselves forever in my psyche are Fantastic Planet, Silent Running, and Logan’s Run. Yeah, well what can I say? Watch them and you will see how they’ve filled my work. I spent hours developing story boards, collecting sounds with my tape recorder, and drawing worlds I imagined and dreamed of.
How did you end up working with metal and glass? Is it something you set out to do?
When I hit middle school and high school new mediums found their way into my hands for creative expression. “Jewelry” was taught at Redwood High School and although it wasn’t an elective for Freshmen (Seniors only) the teacher didn’t mind me cutting class in order to learn this ‘trade’. Mr. Lamante, was not the friendliest but he taught me how to cut stones & cab them, scrimshaw (basically tattooing ivory) how to make my own tools, set stones, fabricate, and lost wax casting. Meanwhile, my fav courses were still science, chemistry, and art.
After high school I continued studying goldsmith and silversmith techniques through assisting and apprenticing professionals. Along side this passion for working with metal was a computer programming passion!
Throughout the 80’s, and into the 90’s I worked with metal, selling and exhibiting my work through small boutiques, galleries, national shows, etc.
In the late 80’s my brother worked for Arrowsprings in California building kilns/annealers for glass artists He desperately tried to get me into glass via flameworking. He made beads, and pipes and sold them at the Renaissance Fair. I was not interested (at the time) in what I thought of as craft (a four letter word). On top of that- Hippy craft! As a metalsmith I was often looked down upon by other ‘artists’ as a ‘jeweler’ due to its associations with craft, so I was not about to start making beads!
Art vs. Craft. It wasn’t really until I moved to Toronto in 2001 that I heard the term, ‘Maker’. And met a community of people that weren’t afraid of the word- C R A F T. In fact, they embraced it!
Oh yeah, back to glass. It seems there has been many occasions where glass has found its way into my pieces, collaborations, and installations. Most of the time through found objects, or friends that worked with glass in some capacity. In 2004, glass artist Catherine Vamvakas-Lay traded her workshop in glass blowing for one of my 8 week courses. That was it! I was hooked and wanting to learn how to work with glass in any way possible. At the time I shared a studio with goldsmith, Catherine Allen known as the Fishbowl. Catherine left Toronto and I took over the Fishbowl turning it into Tank: fire + metal– the fire part had to do with me bringing in two flameworkers from a near-by studio of their own.
I need a positive environment and the ability to create my own world to work out of so, I founded nanopod: Hybrid Studio aka nanotopia in 2005 and have been working with glass along side metal ever since.
I love the immediacy of glass, its sense of flow and movement. Colour is also an important component. Glass is an incredible medium I feel every artist should try on.
Advice to emerging makers?
Make stuff, express yourself! Don’t worry about current trends, and work that is salable. Read this book: Art & Fear!
Be happy, and make/create what you want to, what you feel – from your heart. This work will be appreciated. You are not alone.