Interview with Darlys Ewoldt

I’m thrilled to share with you all an interview with Darlys Ewoldt, a veteran of The American Craft Exposition (ACE) show and a fantastic artist. Her work connotes fragments of thought, memories and interpretations of physical objects juxtaposed against transient experiences of traveling and transitions, all found in the decay and rejuvenation of nature.

Q: You grew up in rural Iowa, where, naturally, you were immersed in the decay and rejuvenation of nature on a very small scale, the decay of a fallen trees and the birth of insects, flowers, grass, etcetera, out of that decay. We largely carry our humble beginnings with us, even to a large metropolitan city such as Chicago where decay and rejuvenation is very much present, but not always in nature. How has and how does this rural versus metropolitan affect your work? Do you see nature’s process in a different light than when you lived in the seclusion of rural America?

A: I’ve been interested in addressing contrasting elements in my work for a long time. That may have something to do with the difference of where I spent the early years of my life and where I live now. I think the flowing curves I often use in my work are influenced by the beauty of the rolling hills and crop lines in the fields which are evident in rural Iowa, where I grew up. The architectural structures of Chicago are equally influential.

As I stated, I love contrasts! It’s important to me as an artist to always be “looking” and aware of things that might be small and overlooked. I am always gathering objects that I find interesting, like pods, rocks and bits of rusty metal. I also draw and take many photographs of such things such as spaces between buildings and cracks in the sidewalk. The solitude of my childhood taught me to be observant of my environment. It’s interesting to see what lies beneath the layers of things, whether it’s movement under the leaves, or patterns and colors of peeling paint on a building.

I still entertain my love of nature while living in Chicago.  I enjoy gardening and find solace and inspiration in my small yard. I also love being near the lake and seeing the shapes and colors the water assumes according to the weather. I’ve made several pieces inspired by the water and I have also made a piece after observing a spider building a web on my back porch.


Q: So many colors of your artwork are reminiscent of and almost other-worldly vibrant like iron-oxide orange, lilac purple and Caribbean-sea green. Your process of layering oxides, pigments, dyes and waxes is fascinating. Can you take me through this process a little more? How do you layer oxides, where do you derive your pigments and dyes from and how do waxes affect the overall composure of the piece?

A: The use of color has always been of interest to me in my work. I initially began my career working in metals by making jewelry. I did enameling, anodized titanium and then used paint on some of my first sculptural pieces. I began experimenting with chemical patinas as my work evolved into making more vessels and sculptures because I wanted to achieve rich, nuanced surfaces.

Patina coloration, the tarnish that forms on copper, bronze and similar metals, is an interesting process. I mix my own patinas by dissolving chemicals in distilled water. The surface of the metal is heated and the patina solution is applied with a brush. When one layer is complete, I come in with another patina solution, dye oxides and mica powders. Waxes or lacquers seal the patinas. It’s interesting to see how a patina transforms the metal object.

The process of making my work consists of cutting shapes from metal sheet, hammering and fabricating them to create a three-dimensional object. The patina coloration helps to bring all the separate pieces together visually. The color is also important to the meaning or ambiance of the sculpture.

Cradle - The Gathering

Cradle – The Gathering

Q: How does your art connect to your life and what are some of your personal theories of design?

A: Most of my happiest (and sometimes most frustrating) hours are spent working in my studio. I thrive on the entire process of inspiration and problem solving involved in creating art. My mother and I used to make things together when I was a child. She taught me to honor the tradition of things handmade. I treasure and value the memories of us working together. I also enjoy the interaction of thoughts, ideas and challenges teaching affords me. I find incredible inspiration in what my students achieve.

I have had the opportunity to study art and design on a formal level and have had many generous teachers throughout the years. I am still learning and find that to be exciting. My intention in my work is to make pieces that someone can see over and over, yet be possibly surprised by discovering something new in what they see or respond to. Surprises are nice.



Q: How did you first hear about ACE and what made you want to apply? What are some of the exciting changes you have seen at ACE over the years and finally, what are you most excited about in participating at the Show this year?

A: ACE started a couple of years after I moved to Chicago. I visited the show a few times and was impressed by the quality of the artworks being shown.

It’s been interesting to see the addition of the emerging artists and see the innovative work many of them are doing.

I am excited about the collaboration of the Evanston Art Center (EAC) and ACE this year. I am looking forward to seeing “The Art of Craft” exhibition at the art center showcasing Purchase Award winners from ACE. I will also be teaching a “Masters Workshop” at EAC the weekend prior to the American Craft Exposition. I hope both events will make people more aware of both ACE and the EAC and their contributions to the community.

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