Courtney Fischer Uhrick’s jewelry is the perfect blend of modern and rustic; bold geometric patterns are given depth, romance and a time worn feel by adding patinas and textures to her copper and brass pieces. Courtney Fischer Jewelry is a one woman show based in Royal Oak, Michigan. Whether you like simple and understated elegance or bold statement pieces, CFJ has you covered. Read to learn more about her unique process and why she loves what she does.
1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?
That I create handmade jewelry using metalsmithing techniques and that I have a studio in my garage. I explain a little about enameling and cutting, filing, finishing a piece of jewelry.
2| Why do you make/design things?
I’ve always loved to be creative and I feel like I need to make things to express myself. And it’s fun and rewarding.
3| What do you love about your job?
I love the flexibility and being able to create my own schedule and in turn spending more time with my family. Working for myself gives me a sense of accomplishment. Being a part of the craft community has been a wonderful experience as well. When I started participating in shows and selling in shops, it was so nice to meet like minded people. Sometimes you can feel like you are on an island, making work that you hope people will enjoy and it’s nice to know there are other crafters doing and feeling the same way.
4| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?
When I was in middle school I had the dream of becoming a photographer for National Geographic and always felt that I wanted to do something different than the 9-5. I had the “aha” moment after working for a few years out of college and realizing that people actually wanted to buy things I was making. That gave me a sense of pride and the courage to quit my full time job and that was almost 7 years ago.
5| How do you work, and where?
I work at my house. I have a studio in my garage where I do all my metal work, enameling, patina, hammering, etc. Usually while listening to Podcasts. Then I assemble and do all my administrative work inside, also while listening to podcasts. I think I’ve listened to almost every episode of This American Life.
6| If you could swap lives with another artist, who would that person be?
The photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, but a woman. He captured the essence of humanity in candid photographs and lived in France. And he lived in a time where black and white photography and developing in a dark room were the norm. There has always been something magical about the process of developing film and prints to me.
7| What makes a handmade object valuable?
I think all handmade objects are valuable because someone took the time to create them. But extra value comes from an objects meaning or if you acquired it from someone you love or on a memorable day or trip.
8| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?
A glass bottle made in Murano, Italy that was my Grandmother’s. We travelled a lot together and on a trip to Venice she took me to see the glass blowers and I will always remember that. She had a love and appreciation for art that she passed down to me at a young age.
9| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.
10| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.
I love camping and being outside and would love to have land someday in northern Michigan to have lots of animals running around. I’ve been to 18 countries and love to travel. I can eat a can of sour cream and onion pringles or a box of Girl Scout Samoas in a very short amount of time.
11| What does the enameling process entail? And how do you achieve the patina effect? Just to be clear, patina is the blue-green color on your pieces and enamel comes in any color, correct?
Enameling is the process of firing glass on metal. First step is preparing your metal. I hand cut, file, drill, and clean all my own pieces. Second step is applying the enamel, which is a similar texture to flour, onto the enamel. Then you carefully place the enamel piece on a trivet (shown in one of the pictures). Third step is place the enamel pieces into the kiln. I fire my kiln at 1600 degrees. Fourth step is filing again to make sure the edges are smooth and then applying patina if desired.
Patina is the blue green and enamel comes in a variety of colors, there is a set color sheet I think it’s roughly 50 or so colors. I use a variety of ways to create my patina using recipes that I’ve tried over the years and apply in numerous layers.
12| What is your design inspiration for the shapes and patterns in your line?
My design and inspiration comes from color and nature. I love to be outdoors and nature is a main source of inspiration. Also, I was an Art History major in college at IU and am influenced by different styles of art and color theory.
13| Many of your pieces are reversible, that is so unique! How did you come up with that idea?
As for reversible, when enameling your piece is stronger if you enamel both sides and I thought, why not make it aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.