How Interesting: Janie Delchamps Zetsch--Silver, Mixed Metal and Polymer Clay Artist from Dauphin Island
Janie Delchamps Zetsch of Dauphin Island creates the most beautiful necklaces using several different mediums but all pieces with a decidedly island flavor--the Sand Island Lighthouse, playful silver dolphins, sunshine and palm trees. She also makes trinket boxes, again with a coastal theme--seashells, turtles, seaweed.
Janie Zetsch came by her love for Dauphin Island quite naturally. She was born at the Brookley Air Force Base hospital and, she said, spent her childhood bouncing back and forth between Mobile and Dauphin Island. "I've traveled the world, but have always loved the Island like no other place," she said. After 20 years in the Air Force and more time in the work place, Zetsch is now "fully retired" and a full time resident of Dauphin Island.
Her affinity for the Island is rather straightforward. Her art is more complicated. "My medium actually consists of three different types," Zetsch explained of the necklaces, earrings and trinket boxes she creates. In some pieces, she uses recycled pure fine silver. In others, she incorporates mixed metals, recycled copper, brass and silver. And the third medium is polymer clay. "This allows for a wide variety and possibilities in design, since I make my own beads and components," Zetsch said.
One necklace is particularly heart-touching: On a background of copper, Zetsch has placed a silver cross and heart, and a spent bullet casing from one of the 21-Gun Salutes at a funeral she attended as part of the Honor Guard from American Legion Post #250.
In the next few paragraphs, Zetsch explains how she came to settle on the mediums she works with now and how the process works. "I've been an artist of some type my whole life. I used to work in traditional mediums and painted with acrylics, water colors, pen and ink, and pastels. Seems I've always had trouble settling for just one medium. Sometime in 2004, I gave up my paint brushes and paper, and turned to clay. While researching some pottery glazes online, I stumbled across some info about polymer clay. I purchased some and gave it a go. I began making my own beads and jewelry, along with some sculpture and vessels. I quickly learned with this medium, you're only limited by your imagination.
"That journey led me to a new clay material, precious metal clay. Precious metal clay was created first in 1997 and is made in Japan by Mitsubishi. It is pure fine silver (.999FS) that has been recycled from all sorts of industries and parts such as computers, X-ray films, cell phones, etc. It is ground into a very fine powder, mixed with moisture and an organic binder.
"When I receive it after purchasing, it comes to me in a clay form. I can then mold it, roll it flat, or shape and texturize it however I desire. Afterwards, I fire it at high temperatures in a kiln. During this firing, the organic binder burns up and the silver becomes 'sintered.' All that is left after firing is the pure silver. At this time, traditional metal smithing and forging techniques can be used on the metal to further enhance design. I have been certified to work with this material by the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts.
"Although I work at my craft full time now that I am retired, it is not a business. The only place it is available right now to see or buy is at the Dauphin Island Art Gallery, or occassionally through my Face Book fan page where I post in-progress photos of my work. I am in this strictly for the 'art' of it, not the business.
"No matter which medium I use, most of the inspiration for the pieces I make comes from the marine life found around Dauphin Island. The dolphins are my favorite and many variations of them can often be found in my work," Zetsch said.
Zetsch said that she's done many things with her work, such as participating in festivals and competitions. Some of her work has been published in a few international clay and jewelry magazines, such as Metal Clay Today, Metal Clay Artist and Art Jewelry magazine. "However," she said, "the most exciting thing that has happened so far just occurred this year on Memorial day. I was selected and sponsored to be a part of an all-Veteran Artist Festival in Manhattan, New York by the Society of Artistic Veterans. It was quite a wonderful experience."
Check out Zetsch's sites at https://www.facebook.com/LifeArtDesignsbyJanie and