Meet Expert Metalsmith Paulette Werger
The fragile ecosystem of crafts soldiers on
The pandemic has been especially hard for craftspeople. The usual craft fair outlets have been canceled for the past year, and craft shops have closed or limited traffic. For Paulette Werger of Hanover, the problem was twofold. Her studio at AVA Gallery in Lebanon was shut down, denying her access to her tools, and her teaching schedule was canceled. “Besides classes at AVA, I was usually on the road at least 12 times a year to teach across the country,” she says. Fortunately, Zoom came to the rescue.
Werger, an expert metalsmith with a focus on both jewelry and tableware, is using virtual methods, such as metalwerx.com, to demonstrate techniques to people across the world. She even had a woman from Israel take a class — while it was 3 a.m. for the student.
Werger is a perennial winner of the best in show or the Joe Tucker Metal Award at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s fair in August. Her minimalistic chains shine with strong, clean lines as she views the natural world, simplified, while her tableware presents a real design statement. She likes to shift between jewelry and tableware, just to “keep me on my toes,” she says. The different demands of function in each discipline narrows the response to the form for each type of object.
The downtime has also given Werger the chance to experiment with her work. Her latest endeavor, enamel on copper, adds a splash of color to the limited palette of polished or anodized metal. Also, as seen in the image here, she is exploring the beauty of unusual turquoise stones, which she says are “vast and astounding.”
This kinetic neckpiece rotates to reveal a different matrix on the other side. The metal lines are finely crafted, like a perfectly drafted drawing, but here are in 3D for the pleasure of both the hands and eyes.
We are all looking forward to the opening of craft fairs here in New Hampshire and throughout the nation, when we can once again look and explore the work of craftspeople in person. Happily, the annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair is on for August 7-15.
AVA Gallery and Art Center / Lebanon / avagallery.org