If Annie Hammer hadn’t grown up to be an artist, now there would have been a paradox. Surrounded by art as a child-her grandmother has a museum-quality collection featuring: Picasso, Klee, George Braque and Hans Hoffman. Hammer found her niche in her 30’s as a jewelry designer. For her, it’s a simple inborn way of looking at the world. I envision things in sculptural form and then make it into jewelry. she says.
Hammer’s work shows the graphic design sensibilities of an artist comfortable with the dynamics of form and rhythm. I know where the eye needs to move, she says. She mixes shapes and textures to create what a fellow artist called fierce elegance. I form different stones into sculptures, form different colors into one piece and add movement, says Hammer. Everything is very detailed. There is a reason for everything, color, shape, movement, texture.
Hammer began her foray into the art world with a year of study at Chicago’s Art Institute followed by a stint as a Windy City’s jeweler’s apprentice. Exchanging the big city for the desert, Hammer moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she earned a degree in Graphic Design from The University of Arizona. A position as a graphic designer at the city’s local ABC television affiliate gave her a taste of the commercial world and the desire to do something in a more purely artistic vein. Her next venture combined art and fashion in the guise of beaded handbags, glittering creations which, although successful, were too time consuming to be profitable. She began designing jewelry, moving from costume pieces to the fine hammered metal and semi-precious stones which are her signature today.
Hammer’s roots may be in surrealism, but these days she finds inspiration in everyday objects-in shapes, in shoes, in the middle of the night. I get ideas from weird places– from looking at a home or someone’s backyard, she says, I see a triangle and imagine it as a colored stone. in a creative process, however, art must bow to the physics of jewelry. When engineering a piece of jewelry, it has to hang right, move right and be pleasing to the eye.
Hammer creates her bold, focused pieces in a small studio strewn with gems. The room is a riot of jewels, semi-precious stones, and pearls. Dozen’s of jewelers’ forceps sit on a bench, poised for that 2 a.m. design brainstorm.
Graphic design may have proved too restrictive for Annie Hammer’s artistic soul, but jewelry making is a joy without limits. It’s a blast. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from this. she says, I’m incredibly fortunate that I can do something I love to do.
5720 North Placito Stillbayo
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