Ornament Magazine

VOL37.1 2014

Ornament is the leading magazine celebrating wearable art. Explore jewelry, fashion, beads; contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

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52 ORNAMENT 37.1.2013 gateway drug, PMC was the "hard stuff." While the Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi had brought PMC to the states, Fago notes that it was McCreight who ensured it made its way into the hands of jewelers. While Fago had heard about this new medium, she did not really know what it was. She took it home, removed it from its package and hated it. "It didn't do what I wanted it to do," she remembers, "and I was stumped." Wanting to give a positive report to McCreight, she ducked his calls for several weeks. As her supply dwindled, Fago felt paralyzed. Solution: she saved some money and bought thirty packets of PMC. It was a major investment on her part, but she felt she needed a larger amount of clay. With a big pile she felt relieved. And discovering that Saran Wrap could slow the drying process—a major breakthrough that Fago still smiles about for its ridiculous simplicity—she turned a corner. She dropped her tense shoulders and started to breathe again. Fago kept in touch with McCreight and became more involved in the medium. In the late 1990s she also learned more about combining materials: "You get to a little dead end on one and then you go to another and you have fresh ideas and mix them together." With metalsmithing, PMC and polymer clay in her material chest, she was set to explore and expand. Inventive and innovative, Fago worked amongst the mediums with great freedom. To create a pendant with a design based loosely on cuneiform writing, she impressed a pattern in polymer clay and then pressed metal clay into the design. The resulting PMC piece might be a Bronze Age relic. In a brooch that features a photograph of two Adirondack chairs, Fago experimented with co-firing copper alloys with PMC. Since the brass wires would not fuse to fine silver, she captured them with wraps of fine silver wire, which does interact. She used pine needles to texture the frame and a thin sheet of mica to protect the photograph. A backing of polymer clay holds the pin's hardware in place. Fago considers herself fortunate to have been able to experiment with new materials over the last fifteen or so years. In the early 2000s she mastered keum-boo and ended up writing Keum-Boo on Silver because, she notes, there was not a comprehensive book on the technique in English and "I wanted one." She was a beta tester for BronzClay and Copprclay. "I just have kept it open," she says. Teaching is a big part of Fago's life because, as she explains, she lives a very quiet one. "Getting out and mixing it up with people—putting myself in a BOOK MARK of sterling silver, bronze, 1.9 centimeters square, 2013. position where I am feeding and being fed by students—I find to be really important." She is one of eight senior instructors for the Rio Grande Rewards Program and has taught a master class in book lockets and hinged boxes at the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee. She also offers five semiprivate classes each year at her Vermont home. In speaking about what makes a good teacher, Fago cites her father. All good teachers, he would say, know their subject and have patience. "You're incredibly vulnerable when you're a student," says the

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