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Joy Raskin working in her studio. Kelly Sennott photo.




Joy Raskin

To see or buy her work, to commission a piece or to contact her, visit joyraskin.com.




For the love of metal
Jewelry artist Joy Raskin on jewelry making in NH

06/29/17
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 For many artists, the decision to create professionally is a scary one, muddled with questions like, am I good enough? Will I be able to find work? Will my pieces sell?

Joy Raskin made her choice as a teen at Concord High School in the ’80s during a metalsmithing class. Jewelry-making in particular enraptured her; she loved hammering, cutting, twisting and manipulating the form to create something beautiful. She hadn’t a doubt in her mind — this was her destiny.
“By the end of the first semester, I said to my teacher, ‘This is what I want to do. This is my career,’” Raskin said during a recent interview in her studio.
Raskin was juried into the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen days before high school graduation (one of the youngest ever to do so) and went on to earn her BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA at UMass-Dartmouth. Upon her return home, she worked for Mark Knipe Goldsmiths, but it wasn’t until she earned an individual artist fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts in 1995 that she dove in and became serious about her art.
“It wasn’t until after grad school, when I got working on my own and started teaching — that was a leap of faith for me,” Raskin said. “But if you want to be an artist, you have to go for it. Just make sure you have a cushion to fall back on — like a part-time job or a savings account. Do what you need to do to get your vision out there.”
Typically, Raskin works three jobs — as an instructor (with the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Craft Center with the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and Metalwerx School of Jewelry Arts), as a creative goldsmith at Goldsmiths Gallery in Concord and as a professional artist. This summer, she’s focusing on readying for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair in August.
Raskin, who works in Concord, was born deaf but communicates well, thanks to years of speech therapy and cochlear implants. The disability never hindered her ability to design. In fact, she jokes it’s kind of nice sometimes.
“I can turn my cochlear implants off and make all the noise I want and don’t have to listen!” she said, laughing.
The day of the interview, her work bench was scattered with half-made pieces — metal cuff bracelets, rings set with beautiful stones and embedded with intricate designs, earrings whose shapes seem to defy the laws of metal. Some appear to drip down like teardrops, and others resemble blooming florals.
“What I’m really interested in is volume. How can I make something really large but delicate?” Raskin said. “I don’t want to be doing the same thing over and over. I try to think a little beyond what juried designs are out there. … I gave myself a challenge a couple years ago to make a pair of earrings with one piece of wire. That limitation actually let me do a wide variety of designs.”
Living in the city, Raskin’s pieces were architectural. When she moved back to New Hampshire, the jewelry became infused with nature.
“All of a sudden, I was surrounded by flowers and trees and plants. My work has gotten a lot more leafy. It’s hard to escape the great outdoors around here!” Raskin said. 
To date, Raskin’s love of metalsmithing spans 33 years. She’s worked with silver, gold, copper, brass, bronze and steel. Admittedly, sometimes, it’s hard; you go through phases where nothing seems to jell, nothing seems to work. Creating alone in a studio can be lonely, and retail is always iffy.
“You have to sell work at craft shows, galleries and stores, and you’re never quite sure how much money you’re going to be getting each month. So I balance it by teaching and working,” Raskin said.
But her feelings about the art haven’t changed a bit. It remains challenging and fascinating to her, and when inspiration does hit, it can take any form — even her pet hedgehog, Pumpkin Peanut. 
“Metal, to me, is magic. I just love it. And sometimes, it’s hard to put it into words, but it’s very much a part of me. I think and breathe metal,” Raskin said. “My motto is, torch in one hand, hammer in the other.”





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