Interview with Artist Jonathan Rutledge

Question: How many times have you exhibited at the American Craft Exposition (ACE) and how has showing at ACE impacted your career?

Answer: I’ve shown at ACE nine times and I actually got my start there as an emerging artist in 2004, which gave me the confidence to know that I can do art as a full-time career. At the time that I first showed at ACE, I was a full-time firefighter and paramedic so entering in as an emerging artist allowed me to get both feet wet and responses from the audience was phenomenal. I have a lot of thanks to ACE to helping me start my career as an artist.

Question: What have been some of your favorite parts about showing at ACE?

Answer: I’ve come to know so many people so it’s nice to see them and gratifying to come up with new work and still be accepted. It’s also fun to see what audiences like about new pieces. I find it wonderful to go back and see everyone and in that sense, ACE is like a family.

ACE 2014 co-chairs Debbie Hulick (left) and Susan J. White with artist Jonathan Rutledge

ACE 2014 co-chairs Debbie Hulick (left) and Susan J. White with artist Jonathan Rutledge

Question: Your first experience with metal occurred when you were stationed in Germany repairing F-16 jets at Ramstein Air Force Base. Shortly after you were discharged from the United States Air Force you enrolled in your first metalsmithing class. What are some of the differences and similarities between patching and painting massive jets and creating small brooches, earrings and necklaces?

Answer: The main differences between working with jets and jewelry are the size and the amount of creativity involved. When working on jets, one has to stick to the operating procedure whereas working with jewelry is creating everything, including new styles, and each piece has its own quirks to work through.


Question: Granulation is a technique where a surface is covered in granules of precious metal. This technique is also a 4,500 year-old process. Can you explain how your jewelry keeps the classical style of the technique but uses a contemporary flair? Does the deep history of this technique affect how you apply the granulation process to your work?

Answer: The granulation technique is on the classical side but the overall design of the pieces is contemporary. I really enjoy using this technique and have a deep love for history, which works its way into the design.


Question: What is your design process? Do you have a specific notion of the granulation pattern in mind before designing, or is that one of the last steps you tackle in a piece?

Answer: I design by following my heart. I have an idea that comes from within and I just execute it. To initially design something, I first figure out the overall picture of what I want to make and figure out how to make it. So I start with the end in mind and work from there. With this process, each piece is unique because I can’t do it the same way each time.


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