The artist as metalsmith: John De Rosier's jewelry

De Rosier bracelet

Sterling silver flattened links bracelet.

By Akum Norder

To someone who's really creative, one creative job may not be enough.

John De Rosier is best known for putting a spin on the day's news as the Times Union's editorial cartoonist.

He's also a jeweler.

His jewelry has a rich simplicity about it, echoing both natural and industrial forms. Metals and shapes are the focus here; he uses gemstones rarely. The designs are modern but not sterile, and very eye-catching.

Read on to learn a little about his work and his inspirations.

De Rosier jewelry 4.

You already spend all day making art. Why take up an artistic hobby?

I know. Here's this guy with a cool job and a large audience that reads his opinions and -- get this -- he's still not satisfied! Really, occupying the editorial cartoonist's post at the Times Union is an enormous privilege, not to mention the fulfillment of a dream that began in high school, so it's a large part of who I am. But my cartoons -- by the very nature of the medium -- necessarily focus, daily, on what is wrong with the world. I don't mind that because jobs that matter often do precisely that, and by so doing improve the lives of those they serve.

By contrast, my jewelry is my attempt to dwell on what is amazing and beautiful in the world, distill it, and present it as a different kind of offering.

Finally, I'm driven to create. Creating reminds me that I am alive and connected to the source of all creation, whatever it is, and in that sense, it's a spiritual pursuit. But we live in a culture that reduces us to the role of "consumers," and I think we're poorer if we believe it. Too much consuming makes me anxious; I guess it strikes me as gluttonous. I'd much rather be making something of value, building something important, saying something thoughtful, rather than passively using, watching, hearing. Too much consuming, and not enough creating or doing is in my view the grave of the soul, and a shallow one at that.

De Rosier jewelry 5.

What appeals to you about working with metal?

You mean, besides the really cool tools?

Seriously, metal, and the process of working with it is magical. From the musical "ping" of a jeweler's saw blade to the rainbow that dances in a torch flame, metalworking is at times beautiful, violent, sensual. Metal is earthy and for me working with it is intellectually grounding and like a meditation, mastering it requires total attention. If your mind wanders, so does the tool, and the desired result escapes.

Metal is also palpable and eternal. As a small sculpture it occupies three dimensions and can be held and worn, which makes this work different from my cartoons -- more physical. The cartoons, being drawings, are in two dimensions and come to life primarily in the minds of my readers. They're more cerebral. Neither pursuit is better than the other; they're both fulfilling, and in my life, they're complementary.

De Rosier jewelry 1

What inspires the forms of your jewelry?

My designs distill inspirations that come from so many sources I'm hard-pressed to categorize it. They often begin as something I see -- architectural or industrial elements, organic objects, landscape imagery or even glimpses of the heavens, like those magnified through the Hubble telescope. These visual raw materials become sketches that I break down to their essential elements, and if I like what I see, I take them to my studio.

Other times, what began as a sketch will evolve as I'm working on it, or sometimes a random scrap of metal on my bench serves as the germ for a new idea and takes me in unexpected directions.

De Rosier jewelry 2

Fundamentally, though, I seek essential beauty and attempt to relay that through my work in the simplest, most elegant ways I can. Light, color, shape, proportion and texture are some of my favorite design tools. But ultimately I love simplicity. Simple beauty captivates me.

Tell me how and when you got started. Did you receive any formal training?

My mother would tell you that I showed precocious eye-hand coordination when, as a youngster, I would kill flies against the window with my finger, Mr. Miyagi-style (I have no memory of this).

Many modeling-clay dinosaurs, Lego spaceships and plastic models later, on a hunch, I took a jewelry making class at The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, maybe eight years ago. The discipline came quickly and intuitively to me and totally sucked me in.

Some years later, I took a sabbatical from the Times Union to work as an apprentice under a master goldsmith in Massachusetts. Since then, I have taken a number of classes from masters in their respective specialties. But I'm still learning, and having endless creative paths to explore with this medium is immensely appealing to me, not to mention daunting and humbling.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.
_____

You can see some of John De Rosier's pieces in his Etsy shop. And he writes about the process of making jewelry on his personal blog, "The Jeweler's Files." His blog is also where he posts information about his upcoming shows.

De Rosier jewelry 3

Comments

I'm a big fan of John's work, including his use of recycled materials (he made my wedding ring, and my husband's ring, out of recycled white gold). Great profile, Akum.

John, you are a very talented young man! You are not only a great cartoonist for the Albany Times Union (they are very lucky to have you!), you also display great artwork as a metalsmith! Keep up your great work and enjoy!

Hi John...you're so gifted in the arts...cartoonist, metalsmith, photographer! We're proud of you!

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

In the year between women's marches, here's what people have been doing to change things

It was almost exactly one year to the day between the big rally in Albany's West Capitol Park to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump... (more)

Hops and deliberate inefficiency

As with many other places, New York has experiencing a craft beverage boom the last few years. So this article by Derek Thompson over at... (more)

Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic 2018

The Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic -- a "pond" hockey tournament -- returns Feburary 9-11 at Saratoga Spa State Park. (The games are on the outdoor... (more)

SPAC Country Megaticket 2018: Urban, Rascal Flatts, Aldean, Bentley, Bryan

Live Nation and SPAC have rolled together another "Country Megaticket" package of shows at the venue this summer: June 27: Keith Urban, with Kelsea Ballerini... (more)

"I mean, it's so vast. . . . It's one of our greatest assets."

Remarkable: The NYS Writers Institute has recordings from interviews and talks with every single writer who's appeared as part of the institute's visiting writers series.... (more)

Recent Comments

We ended up going with Thirsty Owl (Thanks, Christina!). In addition to being in a nice, central location (and in a really beautiful building), their pricing, responsiveness, and flexibility sold us!

Photos from the 2018 Women's March in Albany

...has 2 comments, most recently from BS

A big step forward for the Quackenbush Center mixed-use project, and other exciting tales of the Albany Planning Board

...has 3 comments, most recently from theshakes

Albany now has a better sense of how many vacant buildings it has -- and a common starting point for taking on the problem

...has 9 comments, most recently from daleyplanit

Morning Blend for Jan 23

...has 1 comment, most recently from Tess

In the year between women's marches, here's what people have been doing to change things

...has 2 comments, most recently from K