Lois Ann Dort
Sculpture as wearable art
Award winning jeweller makes her home in Boylston
October 11, 2017 • Guysborough Journal • Profile
BOYLSTON — The phutt, phutt of a torch and the clang of a hammer on an anvil—these are the sounds of Clair Bridge at work in her studio. A fine jewelry maker, Bridge has a workshop that may put many in mind of a blacksmith’s shop– though on a smaller scale. She works with metal; first with a torch, then cooled in a brine solution, placed on an anvil and then sets upon with a variety of hammers to create the desired texture and sheen.
Bridge, originally from the U.S. moved to Nova Scotia about eight years ago and to the Boylston area in Guysborough County in the summer of 2016. Her work has won various awards including the The Juror’s Choice Award for the Titanica exhibit at the Mary E. Black Gallery, Halifax in 2012. Her works are one-of-a-kind originals that reflect her environment; from beach stones to seed pods as well as miniaturized man made items.
Originally a creator of large wall pieces, made of glass, metal and found items; Bridge turned to wearable art after she received a scholarship to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine to work with a renowned metalsmith. There she not only was exposed to new techniques in her own field but also to many other disciplines working at the same location. The experience informed all of her following work and led her to a life in jewelry; which is a bit of a misnomer as her work is perhaps better described as small-scale sculpture.
At Haystack, Bridge learned new soldering techniques which made downsizing her original artistry possible. “I took these techniques that we all were taught, and the sculptures that I had done before, they just shrunk. And I invented my own style.”
“I’m inspired by textures and shapes, by the environment,” said Bridge. “Like painters and sculptures, I think it is true with any discipline, when you work you get inspired by shapes…I’m inspired by all disciplines. That’s the way I work; that’s what excites me.”
The path to becoming an award winning jeweller was an indirect one for Bridge but the foundation for all her work was a love of crafting things by hand. “Working with my hands has always been my life. I used to paint. I had done stained glass and that turned into three-dimensional wall pieces…Because of other work I had not focused on my art. But when I got my scholarship and worked with this metalsmith, I found my niche.”
Bridge has used art as a sort of meditation throughout her life. “I always went to the arts as something that I enjoyed in my spare time. Now, moving here, I wanted to focus on my work. I know what I have found in this area –outside of Halifax– this area is more outside the box and more open to different ideas to what one can do with a discipline which has been really fun to be a part of.”
What most attracted Bridge to the area was that it was, “more diverse, more accepting and kind.” When she and her husband Alexander first visited Nova Scotia she felt that, “this is where I need to be.” And that intuitive move seems to be working well. She’s made new connections with local artists and grown in her own work.
“I think that this area is a gem for people who would love to create,” she said adding that she would like to see more creative spaces and workshops develop in the area.
To view more of Bridge’s work come to the Guysborough Creates Art Gala at the Guysborough Legion on Friday, October 13 or find her online at http://www.clarebridgejewelry.com .