Jeweler Petersen returns to SV Arts and
By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer
Idaho Commission of the Arts fellow Jodi
Petersen, of Victor, claims that putting art into words is nearly impossible.
But, read how the jeweler who combines precious metals with layered enamel
describes how the world influences her art.
"While out hiking I follow a frigid, ice
blue, opaque glacial stream and find that it flows into a scalding hot spring
the color of a freshly split pumpkin," she writes. "Not only can scorching heat
exist alongside arctic cold, but weird and wonderful colors are perfect mates
for one another. The dance of these paradoxical compositions is what intrigues
me most about life."
Petersen has long been on a road to honing
her skills as a jeweler, although she has only been using her current techniques
for five years. She started with beadwork when she was still living in Jackson,
"I was a bead stringer for 12 years," she
said. "I was sick of it after six. It is just so limiting."
When she finally hit the wall with beads
Petersen moved to Victor and finally got the tools and training she needed to
"I was in pain in my life until I could
get this going," she said.
As a child Petersen said she felt she
could never become an artist because she could not draw.
"I wanted so badly to be an artist," she
Even with her frustration with basic
drawing skills, Petersen was undeterred. She studied artists and their work and,
at age 16, she hitchhiked from her home in San Fernando, Calif., to Pasadena to
see exhibits of work by Kandinsky and Paul Clay.
"It just knocked me over," she said.
After working in a Burger King long enough
to buy a Ford Falcon, Petersen drove to Jackson, Wyo., and got a job as a
waitress at the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
"I told them I was 19," she said.
Petersen has been recognized with a dozen
top honors. Part of what has made her successful is her mastery of her unusual
Petersen combines metal work with
torch-fired enamels. To provide a surface for the 25 to 40 layers of clear,
opaque and colored enamels, she uses copper forms as a base.
Traditionally, enamel is layered with the
higher temperature enamels on the inside. Petersen combines enamels with
"incompatible" temperatures. The final "mix" is a big part of what makes
Petersenís work special.
"I didnít know anything about
incompatibles," she said. "Iíve accelerated quickly."
Petersen attributes much of her success to
the state she calls home and the people who appreciate her work.
"When I first moved here the reason was to
go hiking. That discovery is non-stop from the smallest flower to a square foot
(of land). Itís endless," she said. "Sometimes I really get transported."
She says she also feels supported by the
Idaho community when she goes out on a limb to create some of her really unusual
ideas. She says she is also tapping her "dark side," which is an energy she says
she needs to get out.
"Iíll be in the garden and an object will
click and dovetail with a feeling I am having," she said. "Everyone likes things
that are pretty, but it can be one part of the flower coming up in a strange
Petersen likes to name her more
challenging pieces. One of them called "Flowers for Neruda" is named after the
Chilean writer, Pablo Neruda.
"He has a poem about flowers," she said.
"But a lot of his stuff has a dark vein running through it."
"The hardest part of my work is finding
time to work on one-of-a-kind pieces," she said, acknowledging that 25 percent
of her work is "production" work. "I have a very low tolerance for repeating
things. Itís like fingernails on the chalkboard.
"The more I do one-of-a-kind pieces (the
more) I am amazed at how people respond."
Although she still makes some "lower end"
pieces to stay in business, she is proud that sticking to her heart and making
the things she wants has paid off.
"Usually the right person will come
along," she said.