Through her work, Carol Windsor seeks to evoke the fragility of life and the preciousness of the moment. She took a few minutes to give us the details about the techniques behind her mixed-media Aqua Blossom Earrings.
“Making the petals for the Aqua Blossoms is quite time intensive,” says Carol Windsor. “I cut lengths of sterling silver wire, form them into circular shapes, solder them closed, and then patina them a dark gray. The next step is to make the thin interior wires that are laid within the paper frames. I wrap wire around steel mandrels to form coils, oxidize the coils, and then cut them into small segments. The third step is to lay each frame on a small square of paper. Using tweezers, I ‘decorate’ the interior with the small wire segments. Each petal is different. I then place another square of paper over this and saturate the whole ‘sandwich’ with glue. I carefully pull this off the bench with tweezers and hang it up to dry, the most delicate part of the process. After it dries I determine if more layers are needed to modulate the color or add strength. Some of the petals require more layers — up to as many as five. Once they are finished, the paper is trimmed around the frame. Both sides are sprayed with an acrylic and then they are bent into a three-dimensional form. The paper blossoms are then suspended from silver ‘petals,’ which have been individually fabricated to reflect the shape of the paper parts.”
How did you get started as an artist?
“My father was a ceramics professor at a university in California. I always loved to make things, and he supported this. He had a studio in our garage, and I had a little table there where I could work and keep all my art supplies. I started making jewelry when I was in high school. Pierced earrings came into fashion and there weren’t that many available. I started making them, and soon I started selling them at the local department store.”
Where do you get your best ideas?
“That’s unpredictable; there’s no one place to look. It’s about being open to life’s experiences and being aware of how I feel and what I think is important. Those are the big picture ideas. Other ideas come from the process, in asking the ‘what if’ questions. What if I change the scale? What if I modify the technique? What if I add or subtract an element?”
Describe a breakthrough moment that relates to your metal/paper work.
“About eight years ago, my jewelry was made of metal, wood, and enamel — no paper. The pieces tended to be physically and emotionally heavy. Meanwhile, I was also making large tissue paper flowers for parties. Everyone loved them. They were silly and really fun to make. At about this time, my children moved out into the world. I felt free and light and also an acute awareness of the beautiful and fleeting nature of life. I wanted to express these feelings. The light bulb moment came when I realized the paper flowers were the key. I put the wood and enamel aside and set about to develop the technique I use today. I usually bring a bouquet of the big flowers to shows to help explain what inspired the jewelry.”