Last fall I did a series of posts about Craft NB’s Beneath the Surface residency, which took place at Fundy National Park during the summer. The artists who participated created new works based on their experience and have been showing them in a touring exhibition which has already been to the UNB Arts Center in Fredericton and the AX: The Arts & Culture Centre of Sussex. On Friday, January 26th, the show will open at the New Brunwick Museum. Many of the artists have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to create their work, and Joe Pach is one of them. Joe is a jeweler who has always incorporated natural elements such as beach stones into his work, and he has been dreaming of making larger sculptural works for awhile. Beneath the Surface offered him the perfect opportunity to make the jump. Here is what he had to share about the experience.
Q/A with jeweler Joe Pach
How was the Beneath the Surface residency?
Oh it was such a positive experience. To be with so many artists, in nature, learning, was so good. We learned how to structure our work more, how to research better, plan ahead… We also kind of discovered that we all go through the same types of thing. We’re all sitting in our studios, tucked away, doing our work, so to be able to exchange ideas and talk about our needs and struggles was really super. You always think you’re the only one who is struggling, but so many others are struggling so it was really good to talk about it.
Tell me about the process behind your piece:
I was drawn right away to making a bigger piece that would incorporate a completely different technique but I wasn’t sure I could pull off, because there were factors I couldn’t control. Also, I was depending on someone else for the foundry and the skills to actually do it.
If it wasn’t for Peter Powning I wouldn’t have been able to make it in the time I had, which was three months. I spent a solid week in his foundry, preparing the pieces for casting.
I wasn’t feeling well on the day of the cast. I was nervous about the whole process, I had to lay down but then Peter called me to do the pour. We poured 80 pounds of silicone bronze. We had to wear all the protective gear. We did it on the hottest day in New Brunswick, I’m sure it was 35 degrees. Two guys lifting and pouring 80 lbs, trying to be calm. It was an amazing feeling.
How has this experience inspired you for the future?
I already have ideas for similar pieces, of course using stones from the Bay of Fundy or New Brunswick and metal. That’s what I would like to do. I’ve basically done stone pieces but in miniature. I want to gradually transfer my ideas from small pieces to bigger pieces. I really wanted to do a bigger piece to experience what’s involved in creating something like that. The foundry process was interesting and challenging. I’d love to do more!