“I am both a metalsmith and a weaver of softer things. I love contrast in form and similarity in color. I dream of new designs and smile in my sleep. Mother Nature is the best artist I have ever seen, never ending surprises in all seasons.” – Joan North
With a plethora of ongoing shows and exhibitions throughout the art galleries of Wisconsin, Joan’s jewelry studio and business focuses on Japanese kumihimo braid, metalsmithing and fabrication. “I am drawn to simple structures, often just ‘sticks’ of metal interacting with each other.”
In addition to jewelry, Joan also sells beautiful hand made Christmas tree ornaments via her website. If you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, contact Joan and she will make a tailor-made piece of jewelry for your special occasion.
Her new studio has recently been finished as well.
“We just finished cleaning up the last few scuff marks from the floor and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.”
Joan’s roots are south of Wisconsin. Born in St. Louis and raised in Fairhope, Alabama, Joan then spent 40 years moving around the country for her career in administrative positions at colleges and universities, finally retiring as Dean of the College of Professional Studies at UW Stevens Point in 2010. Then, it was time to hit the studio.
Joan loved being a student, always striving to be “teacher’s pet”, but her BS and MS in English, along with a Ph.D. in educational administration doesn’t stop her from being humbled by the lessons from masters across the country.
“Metalsmithing is a black hole of possibilities.” Joan says.
She seeks out semi-precious stones or glass to accent her necklace, bracelet, and earring designs. Joan uses a wooden table or frame called a “Marudai” for creating kumihimo pieces. Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braid-making. Cords and ribbons are made by interlacing strands. The word Kumi himo is Japanese for “gathered threads”.
Joan’s history of venues for her exhibits includes but is not limited to the Alexander House in Port Edwards, ArtZ Gallery in Amery, Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau, D.C. Studios in Egg Harbor and Sister Bay, the ART garage in Green Bay, and the Tomorrow River Gallery in Amherst, to name a few. You can contact her and check out her latest creations online at www.joannorthdesigns.com , or on facebook.com/joannorthdesigns. Keep your eyes out for her 2014 schedule.
The Scarabocchio Art Museum (SAM) is located in downtown Stevens Point on the corner of Main Street and Water Street. The museum is a joint venture between the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the City of Stevens Point.
History of the Kumihimo
The Kumihimo can be traced back to 645-784 AD. The braids were used for clothing and religious ceremonies then, but as time went on and as Buddhism started to dominate, temples were decorated with Kumihimos by monks.
Other uses followed, as with Samurai Warrior armor. The iron plates used to protect them were joined together by braids, as well as binding on swords, horse armor and horse harnesses.
Then fast forward to 1573-1614 and kumihimos were used in Kimonos, as the braid was needed to hold the obi sash in place.
Between 1867 and 1912 the samurai culture saw a decline, leading to a decline in the production of kumihimo braids.
Today, kumihimo can be learned in Japan in a traditional school, and normally the techniques and patterns by individual schools is kept secret. Then, with the invention of the foam disk by Makiko Tada, kumihimo was made accessible to crafters around the world.