by Monika Blichar
It’s always interesting to see new artists come to our Art World Expo family and when I saw Carrie Carbol-Ritcey work come through our submission, I was not only thrilled but really interested in what she is doing because she is really invested in her work and business. Not only is she a talented metalsmith, she is also teaching, exhibiting, partnering up with local merchants in her area and continually learning about her craft by pursuing higher education in her industry. She is really doing it all. I caught up with her today and here’s what she had to say about her work, inspiration and goals for her company Two Carrots Studio.
You are an accomplished designer and metalsmith. When did you know you wanted to pursue design as a career?
I’ve always been involved in the arts. Music, creative writing, mixed media collage, building, sewing, I am incredibly lucky to have a family that has always supported my artistic pursuits, whatever they might be. I had a conventional job for a long time, but my years in the corporate world left me wanting to do more. One silversmithing course led to another and another and I realized I had found my passion. My favourite line from my artist’s bio reads: I find silversmithing to be the perfect combination of right and left brain thinking: art and science, engineering and physics and just a little bit of alchemy that results in beautiful and accessible pieces of wearable art. That’s why I do what I do.
What inspires you when you create new pieces?
I always have a sketchbook with me, and have been known to rummage in my bag for something to sketch on while at the movie theatre! I find inspiration everywhere, in architecture, nature, books and music. My Stick Flower line was and is inspired by the
artwork of my youngest daughter. Kids draw the most fantastic things, in bold lines and vibrant colours. She’s been drawing amazing stick people lately, with impossibly long limbs and giant cartoon hands. I just love them, and one of them is going to have to become part of a piece soon. My oldest daughter is an artist, and I proudly frame and display her pieces around our house. I get inspiration from just watching her create, and I will support her Arts passion just like my parents did for me.
Do you have a favourite piece you have made?
Usually my newest piece is my favourite! I love to tell my customers that my rings all come in ‘not my size’ or I would have to keep them all!
I think my current favourite is the piece I made in a week long workshop at the Red Deer College Series Summer Arts program last year. ACAD’s Linda Chow was my instructor and I learned so much that week! The piece is a two sided pendant featuring a huge labradorite stone with a hand fabricated water lily and carved lily pads on the front and back of the piece. Linda taught us that ‘sculpture has no front or back’ and to reflect that in our work when creating a sculptural piece of jewelry.
Another favourite would be the copper poppies seen in my logo. Like a lot of my projects, these started out as a simple idea on paper, probably a bit out of my current skill set. I love a challenge, and making the poppies pushed me to learn several new techniques. The first set was a gift for my amazing mom. After that, I made several more sets and still carry them as part of my line.
You teach a variety of workshops in the area. Can you tell us more about any upcoming workshops you are hosting?
I am lucky to be part of the group of instructors at Bedrock Supply. I learned a lot of my skills in the Bedrock studio, and I am thrilled to be part of the teaching team. I have two classes left in my winter schedule. Both classes give students a chance to work with metals, learn about tools and gain some foundation techniques in metalsmithing. On March 22 I’m teaching a simple silver band ring class, and on April 2 I am teaching a roll printed earring class. I’ll have examples of both at the Art Expo show-come see me to learn more about the classes and the pieces we will be creating!
What are your goals for your business in the coming year?
I have a few things in the works. I just finished up a Valentine’s Day collaboration with the amazing local chocolatier Colleen Heidecker, and would love to do that again. I am working at making as much of the behind the scenes work as streamlined and automated as I can. The business of being a maker and an artist isn’t as fun as the creating!
There is nothing I would like more than to be a silversmith 100% of the time. Right now I’m balancing small scale production work with the creative pieces I love to do. Selling the ‘bread and butter’ pieces frees up time to create the really fun stuff, and also pays
the bills. Professionally I’m always looking to learn more about the craft. I’m headed back to Red Deer College Series Summer Arts in July. Being surrounded by artists and makers in the fantastic studio spaces at RDC is the best way to spend my summer vacation. In 2020 I plan to travel to Washington State to immerse myself in a week long workshop with one of my favourite silversmiths, Nicole Ringgold.
Will you have any show specials for Art World Expo guests at the show this year?
I just might! People will need to come see the Expo to find out!
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