Patsy’s Art Corner: Chris Contos Metalsmith
I would like to introduce you to one of YC’s outstanding art faculty members, Chris Contos. If you have taken one of his jewelry or sculpture classes already, you will know that he is a first-class metalsmith jeweler, engraver, and sculptor. “Metalsmith” is the term he uses to describe his style of working and teaching. He specializes in traditional tools and techniques such as hammers, chisels, and fire. He has been an adjunct instructor in the YC art department since 2000. For the last couple of years, he has been teaching Jewelry and Metalsmithing classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Chris was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he grew up and went through school in the same area. He got his undergraduate degree from Boston University in both Special Education and Elementary Education. He has an incredibly diverse background professionally – beginning while he was an undergraduate student and the program director at The East End Settlement House in Cambridge. He was the director of a preschool program in New Jersey. Chris was also a field supervisor at The Steven L. French Youth Forestry Program for the State of Massachusetts. He described the year-round camping program on Cape Cod as a counseling program for troubled teens that utilized the activities of the Outward Bound program, a nation-wide program that has also been used here in Prescott. He mentioned that he also spent time crewing on fishing boats while on the east coast.
Chris and his wife Judy came west to Tucson in 1979. He began his studies in metal at Pima Community College in 1980. His first semester he studied jewelry, metalsmithing and torch welding, passions he continues today. Chris earned his Masters at NAU in both Art and Art Education. He has spent 20 years teaching in Prescott elementary schools where he taught at Miller Valley School. In addition to the public school teaching, Chris spent two decades selling his jewelry and sculpture either part-time or full-time in arts and crafts shows across the country. Two of his large hammered copper sculptures are at the American Lutheran Church on Scott Drive here in Prescott. You can learn more about Chris and his art on his website at www.contosmetalarts.com.
Alexander Calder is on Chris’ short-list of his favorite influences in the art world. Calder spent his life working with metals in both jewelry and sculpture while changing the dynamics of modern sculpture. David Smith is another of his favorites as he broke new ground in welded steel sculptural forms.
As a jewelry instructor on the Prescott campus, Chris recommends the following two books to his students: The Design & Creation of Jewelry by Robert von Neumann; and Metal Techniques for Craftsmen, by Oppi Untracht.
Other books available for checkout at the Yavapai College Libraries.
DESIGNING AND MAKING JEWELLERY
by Sarah Macae
Book gives a general survey of the history of studio jewellery up to the present.
Introduces some of the materials available and various methods of working them.
Presents four projects to teach the basic techniques.
PRACTICAL JEWELRY-MAKING TECHNIQUES: problem solving
by Stephen O’Keefe
The author approaches the book from a teacher’s perspective – offering his insights into problem-solving for beginning jewelers.
He gives basic tools, basic techniques, some simple specialized tools to make, alternative methods of soldering and much more to aid the beginner.
THE NEW JEWELRY: Contemporary Materials & Techniques
by Carles Conina
In this presentation, artists have used wood, resin, polymer clay, metal clay and other inexpensive household objects to make their jewelry.
They explain their unique designs as projects the reader can make.
Steps are illustrated with over 700 color photographs.