“Always stay naïve, because you can see more, you can hear more, you can explore more. Once you start to think you know what’s going on you tend to ignore things; you turn yourself away from a new experience.”
David LaPlantz likes to strike up a dialogue, mostly in your head. A little mischievous, a lot instigator, he asks questions, about dreams, or curiosity, or nature. He dwells on love, too; red bright hearts are a favorite motif in his jewelry brooches. He takes aim at complacency, defying the status quo with words like “bailout” etched on recent pieces. In person one morning in his large studio south of Santa Fe, he moves around with an elastic quickness, and his conversation easily leaps and fishtails as he focuses on a train of thought or describes a process. He suffers from tinnitus, the result of a thirty-three year academic teaching career that began back when no one wore any headgear in the metalworking studio to mute the constant pounding of hammers and whine of machinery. “As a teacher, you can’t always wear hearing protection,” the Ohio native says. “I had to listen to the equipment; I had to know what was physically going on, and then people were asking questions.” These days he plays music, mostly jazz, while he works; it blocks the ringing in his ears and he likes how it sets the mood. He stills plays LPs. “It forces me to get up and flip over the record every fifteen minutes,” he says. “I have a huge vinyl collection.”
LaPlantz’s jewelry confines itself to a two-inch diameter brooch, for which he is widely known. The brooches are made from sandwiched slices of flat aluminum, which he saws, drills, layers, rivets, engraves, files, and sands for a beveled edge. Some pieces, like his red hearts, are hydraulically pressed into a small die to create a dimensional form.
is a freelance writer and editor based in Santa Fe. Visiting metalsmith and jewelry artist David LaPlantz’s studio, she was enthralled to watch as he showed her how he cut pieces and scribed them to build a brooch. “It’s amazing to have an artist actually walk you through a process,” Clark says. “It makes it all so much more alive, and you realize that what is left out matters as much as what stays in.” She also is a big admirer of LaPlantz’s website. “He blogs about what he’s doing, there’s a great biography and he’s got lots of examples of his current work. It’s terrific for getting to know him and his art.”
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