Artist Statement

My background is as an illustrator of science and information graphics, and my chosen medium is pen or brush and black ink. The ability to draw influences and drives my metalwork, and after more than 10 years as a practicing metals artist, I am approaching the place where I can combine both artistic disciplines.

My way of being is about decisive order. I don’t like mushy or soft. I crave clarity and logic. In my 2D work, a line is very decisive — on the white paper, it is black. A decision must be made before the mark is made, and the feeling behind the line drives its direction. It can flow freely into the open or enclose a space and contain, but it is still a black mark on a white page. This decisiveness also translates to my 3D work — textured or smooth; metal or stone; on or under; out or in; contained or open — black or white.

In my recent pieces, a fascination with cladistics — the scientific method of classifying species of organisms into groups in a linear graphic — has led me to collect and contain a wide variety of jewelry materials into works that exhibit logical relationships. Much like an evolutionary biologist, I examine, gather, group, and describe with sketches, models and notes before I touch metal. Until I feel certain there is a logic to the assembled group, I continue to observe and think. When I am confident it is right for me, I make the object.


5 responses to “Artist Statement

  • marybeth larsen

    Wow! Your artist statement and home page have touched me in so many ways. I am a glass / metal artist (‘artist’ is probably pushing it). My real occupation is engineering, so your ‘decisive order’ really speaks to me.
    I’ve been attracted to metal (and of course glass) for many years. I’ve started playing with folding and just love the naturalness of copper. I’ve been enameling, but the patinas that are so natural are lost with that approach (or so it seems). I do love the hammering … the stress from my job seems to evaporate. Please write some more … your writing talents are great!

    • helendriggs

      Thanks for your kind words…
      I’d love to write more, but time is a a valuable resource that is in short supply for me at this moment. I have promised myself to write more here as soon as I dig out.

  • Christine Nelson

    Hello Helen! I would like to feature a short quote from you about “Something I Fell in Love With” on my website as part of a Valentine’s Month theme. I am sorry to contact you this way and not more privately, but I could not find an email address here. Could you email me privately to discuss? Thanks! Christine

  • Julie Maxon

    Art and science go together so well, do they not?

    I’ve been enjoying metalsmithing at home for some time and I’m ready to purchase a more serious torch. I work in my home and I’m a little nervous about housing a pressurized fuel tank in my home.

    I am wondering what your experience is with Water torches. Is this a safer alternative? Are there fewer fumes?

    I’m enjoying reading your columns; thanks for the sound and honest advice.


    • helendriggs

      Hi Julie!
      I have no experience with water torches. I have used butane, propane, acetylene, MAPP, Acy/Air, Acy/Oxy, Propane/Oxy and Natural Gas/Oxy. All of them have pros and cons.
      My favorite is Natural Gas/Oxy, because it burns hot — but it takes a professional to hard line it into your studio, and you MUST have good ventilation, also installed by a pro. It is more suitable for large or professional situations, so sadly, I haven’t got that set up at my home studio. Well, yet.

      Take your time choosing a torch. It took me a year before I bought one, and I went weak in the knees when I did. And then, it took six years after that to upgrade to a dual system. Buying a torch is a big decision and it will have an effect on how you work, so go slow and be certain.

      Hope this helps!

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