Meet Robbi Farscman of lostgirl Metalworks.
While working as a community organizer on the east coast in the early 2000s, I started making jewelry as a hobbyist. Then, it was bead work, including those I made with polymer clay, and the focus was on design – which leaned solidly towards the asymmetrical and quirky. I gave everything as a gift, and when folks told me, “You should sell,” I would laugh and respond with a hearty “No!”
My work later took me to New England, where I continued designing (and giving away) jewelry in my spare time. The reception was similar to that from down south, though “You should sell!” was met with a more tentative “Nooo….” When I relocated to NY in 2008 and heard the same encouragement, I said “Damn right!” (I can be a bit slow on the uptake at times…)
My first metalworking course was a two-week one called “Rings and Things.” I babbled about it for months beforehand – some might have said ad nauseam – and couldn’t wait for the first day. After seven hours in the studio, I came home defeated and answered the expectant question of “Did you love it?!” with “Not really…”
Sawing metal was a pain, and I broke blades quicker than you could blink. (Later, I learned that having the right blade for the gauge of metal you’re cutting makes a world of difference!) My soldering skills were also pretty tragic, and the little pieces would jump off the metal whenever the torch flame would get anywhere close. I considered ditching the whole affair after the first day. But I’m pretty determined by nature, so I went back. The second day was a little better, and by the end of the third, I was hooked and began dreaming about my “next life” in metal.
In February 2012, with only two metalsmithing courses under my belt, a basic skill-set (to say the least!), and just two pairs of pliers in my toolbox, I decided my next life started then and I made the leap to be a full-time artist. Shortly thereafter, lostgirl Metalworks – a nod to my tendency to wander, shun roots and find inspiration on the unknown path – was launched.
I work primarily in sterling, though copper and bits of gold find their way into my work, and drool-worthy stones are the norm. Much of my current line contains bold pieces that celebrate both structure and the beauty of decay. (I think of them as modern heirlooms.)
Life-by-hand, as I call it, isn’t always an easy journey. Some days are smooth sailing and others are complete melt-downs (literally, if I keep my torch on something for two seconds too long). On the smooth days, I leave the studio invigorated and excited to return. On the others, I remind myself that I am a maker, not a machine, and nothing that I do will ever be perfect (though that doesn’t stop me from trying!).