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Diploma 2017 in the ADBK Munich (4/5): Jing Yang

I really have a lot of respect for people, who leave their country to study far away from home. It must be very hard in the beginning. When Jing Yang came from China to Germany to study in the Munich Jewellery Class, she must have suffered from a real cultural shock. Without either German nor much English to communicate, I remember her struggling to find her way with her jewellery work and with life in Germany in general. But Jing is made of much sturdier stuff than her petite figure would suggest. During this time, I was teaching German classes to classmates and when Jing joined us, she could already speak German pretty well, which was astonishing seeing that she’d never visited any German classes before. She had been teaching herself.
Jing also developed her language as a contemporary jewellery artist quite fast. After some teething problems, (which we’d all been confronted with) she created a stunning series of necklaces titled Ich bin keine Vase (“I am not a vase”), which are composed of several loose stringed brass parts. If you staple the geometrical elements on top of each other, you will get a classical shape of a vase. This work knocked my socks off when I first saw it in Jing´s solo show during the Munich Jewellery Week 2015.

Jing explained to me during our interview in her diploma show: “Art Jewellery or hollowware belongs to the applied arts, the pieces normally ought to have a function. I used the shape of a vase, but took away its original functioning. The vase became something new. It became jewellery. The other meaning comes from China: If you say in China that a woman or a man is like a vase, it means that he or she is pretty from the outside, but empty from the inside, just like a hollow decorative item. So, by wearing one of these necklaces, the wearer declares that he/she has something to say.”

In her diploma show, Jing had her own room to exhibit necklaces on the walls and a huge “version” of her divided vase shapes made of clay, which were presented in the center of the room.

Carina: How do you make these jewellery pieces? Do you create the entire vase shape at first and then cut it apart?

Jing: No, they are made differently. First, I draw shapes of vases I find beautiful. Many people think I am using traditional Chinese vase shapes, but it is really my own shapes that I like. Then I cut the drawing apart into segments and calculate the individual parts mathematically to build them on paper first. Often, I then have to adapt the shape if I cannot solve the calculations. The segments of the vase are then built separately in brass.

Carina: So actually, the vase only exists in your mind and on the paper, but never in the proper material…

Jing: Yes. This is important for me, there never was an actual vase. There is the image of a vase, when you stack the segments on top of each other. But when you wear it, the vase shape falls apart into new ever-changing forms. You cannot wear the vase around your neck as a jewellery piece.

Carina: So, tell me a bit about the sculpture you made from clay?

Jing: There is certainly a strong connection to the jewellery series, because you could again build a vase from these parts. If you stapled all the pieces on top of each other, you would get a 1.90 m high sculpture, so approximately man high. For me, there is also a connection to the body, because the process of making these clay pieces was physically hard work. I needed a lot of help. The clay pieces are very heavy, and I cannot lift them by myself. I think all the Chinese students from the Academy were helping me with this project and the caretaker of the Academy knows me much better now than he would like to I think.

Carina: Did you ever build the vase from these parts?

Jing: Yes, I did. But I see the whole piece more like an invitation to build different shapes from it. Like with the jewellery, there is no definite shape for me.

Carina: And how did you make the segments for this piece?

Jing: For the jewellery, I calculated the flat projections, which were then folded into a three-dimensional geometrical shape. For the clay segments, I had to make the calculations already for 3- D pieces. It was quite complicated.

Carina: Do you enjoy mathematics?

Jing: Yes, a lot. I can really focus when I am calculating mathematical formulas. Everybody in the studio already knows that it is better not to disturb me, when I am doing mathematics.

Carina: So, congratulations on finishing your studies! What are your plans for the future now?
Jing: I want to continue working in Munich at least for a few more years now, but I think earlier or later, I want to go back to China.

Carina: I know that you were doing performance and video art before your studies in Munich. Now you made your first sculpture. Will you continue working in different media?

Jing: Yes, I have been focusing on making art jewellery now for several years, but in the future, I want to be open to work in other media too. I want to work in the media which best fits the ideas I’d like to implement.

Carina: Thank you, Jing.

Jing Yang (born 1987 in Hunan, China) received her BA of Fine Arts from the Xiamen University, China, in 2010. She then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Munich in the jewellery class from 2010-2017 under Prof. Otto Künzli and Prof. Karen Pontoppidan.

1 Jing Yang: Invitation card for diploma show Keine Vase, Photo: Jing Yang
2 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
3 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
4 Jing Yang: Diploma show Keine Vase, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi
6/7/8 Jing Yang: Diploma show Keine Vase, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
9 Jing Yang: Untitled, Necklace; Brass, string; Photo: Mirei Takeuchi

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Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

The Munich Jewellery Week is over. I didn’t manage to see everything- not even close- but as I had no project myself this year, I had more time to see exhibitions than in previous years. The tendency seemed to be towards simple jewellery-friendly displays and big group shows. Personally, I found there to be a lack of the more intimate atmospheric shows, but then again: I didn’t see everything. In any case there was plenty of great art jewellery to discover, some of which I am going to feature in Extraordinary! on KARMA CHROMA in the coming weeks.

I would like to begin with Christoph Straube’s current series titled “Enamel on Silver” and “Enamel on Steel”, which I would describe as stunning comic-like drawings in enamel on metal of simple geometric three dimensional shapes. He was showing them this year at two different places; at the fair in Munich, with gallery Rosemarie Jäger and a booth he shared with the JAC group.
Like me, Christoph first completed a three year apprenticeship as a goldsmith at the Berufsfachschule für Glas und Schmuck in Neugablonz, Germany. He then went on to study at the College of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, Germany, in the class for gold-and silversmithing under Prof. Ulla Mayer from 2000-2006. During and after his art studies he experimented with many materials, but for these new series he came back to traditional goldsmithing techniques and materials. The necklaces were already on display in the Schmuck 2014- exhibition and attracted me immediately. To be honest, enamel-on-metal-work is often not surprising me. In the big picture, I feel the aesthetics that are reached with enameling techniques have exhausted themselves somewhat. Christoph’s pieces however, have something very fresh and unique about them. With humor and skills he has created a clever body of work, which challenges the viewer: Perspective distortion and a play with overlapping elements to create optical illusions which invite the eyes to explore. Christoph states that he likes to invent a system with its own logic, within these boundaries he investigates what is possible. For me they are extraordinary, sensitive pieces of art jewellery which are beautifully made adornments and are really fun to look at.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

At the fair, he showed me the backsides of the brooches, which bring in another element: colour. I like the contrast between the black and white fronts with their delicate drawings and the boldly coloured backsides, which concentrate on outline and surface.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings
Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Christoph Straube kindly answered some questions for me about these pieces:

Carina: You experimented with many different materials in your previous work. What made you decide to come back to traditional jewellery materials like silver, steel and enamel for this series?

Christoph: I like the idea that the silver and steel pieces look as if they were sketches which have been cut from paper sheets – opposite to pieces where non-precious materials are processed in order to visually look like more precious materials.

Carina: Can you explain a bit the process of developing and making these pieces?

Christoph: As a first step I sketch everything on paper – for me, that’s the fastest way to develop a shape and an idea. After that, with the help of the computer and a 3D software, I construct three dimensional objects which I can rotate in order to determine the particular perspective view. I export everything as a line drawing to Illustrator, where I align several shapes and print them out on paper. From here, the traditional hand craft process starts: I simply cut out the shapes, glue them on a metal sheet and saw them out. The rest – and main part – is enamel painting: in several firings I apply a white background, shadings and at last I draw the black lines with very fine ground painting enamel. Only after the last firing and assembling of the whole piece I can see if it’s right.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Carina: It seems you develop your technique further and further until it is immaculate. Are you a perfectionist? How much do you leave to chance?

Christoph: I am a perfectionist regarding the accuracy of the initial draft and the pure technical part of my work. In enameling, I appreciate unpredictable colour changes or traces from the work process like paint dust on the surface. For me this makes the vibrancy of the pieces.

Carina: A part of the work on these pieces is happening on the computer. What do you think about the increasing use of computer-based techniques in the field of art jewellery? What significance do they have for your own work?

Christoph: For my work, the computer is just a tool like a saw or a file. With the computer the drafting work gets much more efficient but is just a step in the whole process. You don´t see it at the end. Though, I find a meaningful use of computer-based techniques in jewellery quite interesting. Generative design is a huge field, and some people use especially the faults of CAM methods like coarse surface structures, which surely give new design possibilities.

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Carina: What would you say is the golden thread that runs though your work?

Christoph: A humorous and comic-like aspect went along with most of my pieces. Further, I found myself often working in design systems which limit the amount of possible shapes. In earlier works, this happened by stylization or a work principle like making pieces by folding only. Also the enamel necklaces and brooches with their geometric shapes cannot be done with any shape in its particular perspective and alignment. Yet this limitation lets me experience the freedom in designing even more.

Carina: Thank you!

Christoph: Thank you!

If you want to see more of Christoph´s work, please visit his website:

Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings
Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings
Extraordinary! No.2: Christoph Staube´s enamel drawings

Christoph Straube: Necklaces, untitled, sterling silver, enamel (2013-2015); Brooches, untitled, stainless steel, enamel (2015-2016); Photos: Christoph Straube

Text edit: Hayley Grafflin